The History and Use of Silver Napkin Rings
Silver Napkin Rings.
There are many items that we use on a daily basis whose origins remain unknown to most people. This is because we have grown up with these items and take them for granted. In terms of tableware, many of the items have been in use for centuries and evolved over that time to take their current shapes and uses.Napkins have been a part of table settings for many years as well, but napkin rings have a more interesting and unique history which actually go back for the past two centuries. Sometimes called a “serviette ring”, the napkin ring has a relatively long and interesting history in terms of our daily lives and how it has been used over the years.Silver has been a common material used to make napkin rings and many people use the term “silver napkin rings” to describe this simple device which actually does more than just hold the napkin in place before meals are served.
What is the Purpose of Silver Napkins Rings?
The actual purpose of these rings is to identify the napkin used by a particular person. Rather than embroider the napkin, a simple ring not only holds them in place, but also identifies the user. This was done not only for dinnertime, but also when the napkins were washed as well.
The rings themselves would have the initial or name of the owner and were often christening gifts or given at weddings to the happy couple. In fact, silver napkin rings are quite popular as gifts to this day, even if the overall meaning of their function has been obscured somewhat by time.
The History of Silver Napkin Rings.
The exact origins of napkin rings are somewhat obscure. However, the current form of the ring began in France back in the 19th century. This is a time when sterling silver was all the rage as it could be fashioned into many different shapes. At the more fashionable dining tables in France,sterling silver napkin rings were quite common.
It was not long before napkin rings made their way across Europe and to America where they were often fashioned using more common silver plate. The designs in the US reflected somewhat different style in terms of the ornamentation of the rings, although the Reed & Barton along with Gorham were silver manufacturers that prided themselves on creating unique figural-type rings.
In fact, many of the rings depicted animals such as dogs, cats and horses. By the turn of the 20th century, Tiffany & Co. along with Liberty in the UK were creating different types of napkin rings that include the Art Nouveau movement as well as simpler types to reach larger audiences.
Today, many of the antique napkin rings have become collector’s items and are highly valued in many homes.
Additional Materials Used in Making Silver Napkin Rings
Also silver is arguably the most popular type of material used in the creation of napkin rings, particular those of the 19th and most of the 20th century. There have been other materials used in the manufacturing process as well which have helped make the rings distinctive and unique.
Porcelain, glass and pearl embroidery are common materials that were used in making napkin rings which added a unique touch to the table. In addition, bone and wood provide a more natural feel to the rings and they also could be crafted into the classic figural shapes as well.
By the mid-20th century, Bakelite became a popular substance in the creation of the rings thanks to its sturdiness and ability to accept different shapes. In fact, there are many different materials that have been used in the making of these rings, including plastic. However, silver is still generally accepted as the type of metal best suited for the dinner table, especially in terms of family heritage, gifts and special occasions where silver is the metal of choice.
Popular Types of Silver Napkin Rings.
There are certainly many different types of napkin rings that feature a host of designs from the simple to the very elaborate. Depending on the country, there are different traditions which have their own unique designs placed in the rings. In many English speaking countries for example, napkin rings often come in numbered sets of 4 through 12 which have their own distinctive design.
Standard: This is arguably the most common type of napkin ring and is usually made from skewers. It is noted for its simple, clean appearance and certainly adds to the dinner experience.
Figural: This is a type of napkin ring very popular in America and is noted for being a part of a small figurine or sculpture that may depict all sorts of popular shapes or appearances. The material that a figural napkin ring can be made from includes wood, silver and other materials.
The Future of Silver Napkin Rings.
Thanks to the popularity of antique silver napkin rings and napkin clips, there has been a resurgence of interests in this particular product and in tableware in general. Napkin or serviette rings are still highly popular as wedding or christening gifts with that trend continuing strongly into the foreseeable future.
The interest in older rings, particularly those made of sterling silver has helped to awaken those interested in collecting and even selling these antique serviette rings. However, it also has shown a renewed interest in people who want to have this particular type of tableware holding the napkins in their home.
The variety, style and purpose of napkin clips and rings have created an interest that is sure to continue. Today, the internet has helped people find new businesses that offer an even wider variety of tableware for their homes which includes many different types of rings to hold their napkins. Now it is easier than ever to create a unique and decorative dinner table that exemplifies the household and can be passed down from generation to generation.
There is no doubt that silver napkin rings have come a long way and thanks to their place in our lives, will continue to be with us for many years to come.
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