Collecting Hotel Silver

Photography by Jocelyn Chiu

Hotel silver, made for the grand European hotels, restaurants, railways and steamship lines is beautiful, hefty and durable. Found on travels, estate sales and antique stores, it is the answer to a new silver for the home. Hotel silver captures a bit of the grandeur of an earlier time; handsome in its pure functional design, and a pleasure to handle. Whether inherited or acquired over time, the initial attraction to hotel silver is visual. Some are drawn to hotel silver for its durability while others are drawn to the history the pieces possess, searching for silver from the hotel where their parents honeymooned, perhaps, or from establishments in their hometown.

Hotel silver has become a highly sought-after collectible in recent years, with prices ranging from a few dollars for small, simple items to well over $100 for large, ornate designs. Most hotel silver bears the name of the hotel, the manufacturer and the process “silver soldered,” as seams were soldered for added durability. International Silver often indicated the date of manufacture in a box, so if you see a two-digit number in a box on the bottom of your piece, you will be able to tell in what year it was made. (“21” represents 1921, and so on.) Reed & Barton sometimes used symbols (a ship, a heart, a horseshoe) to indicate a year.

Silver spends much of its life wrapped in felt. The chore of polishing it keeps it out of sight and, unfortunately, out of mind. But on special occasions, massing collections of silver for display reminds us that it looks great year-round. Using a serving tray or compote dish to set car keys or change in as you walk through the door is a great way to enjoy the beauty of hotel silver on a daily basis. Serving water in a pitcher from your favorite hotel is another wonderful way to appreciate the beauty and durability of hotel silver. Find ways to incorporate your hotel silver into everyday life: you will admire it even more.

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