I learned to love the glow of silver from an older friend who was a collector. She hated polishing all the candlesticks and tea pots and fish knifes, however, so she’d roll them up in plastic wrap to keep the air from tarnishing the surfaces. Usually it worked. But when a celebration drew near, like Christmas dinner, she’d remove the wrap, and I’d help her with her polishing. To my mind, an arrangement of fine silver is a joy to behold. Add a nearby hearth alight with flames — red, yellow and blue — to burnish that tableware, and it’s difficult not to think of Charles Dickens and roasted goose and plum pudding.
Silversmithing has been an art as well as a craft since the country was a colony. Paul Revere was not only a patriot but a master artisan. If you owned a silver tray signed by him today, you’d have a hefty down payment on a yacht if you chose to sell it. John Moore, a silversmith who worked for Tiffany in the mid-1800s added to the luster of America’s reputation. In 1878, he won the grand prize for his pieces at the Paris Exposition Universelle. (“Meet the Makers,” by Stellene Volandes, Towne&Coutry, October, 2017, pg. 172.)
Since those heady days, Tiffany has kept its reputation for fine silversmithing and has recently hired a new chief artistic officer, Reed Krakoff. He is currently at work on a display for their Fifth Avenue store. The new pieces will include “sterling silver protractors, rulers, a drinking straw, a first aid kit, and a paper cup.” (Ibid pg. 172) For a person who imagines he or she has everything, an item from that list might have appeal.
Krakoff say his intent is to make “what is most desirable  useful.” (Ibid pg. 175.) With only six months and a handful of artisans to bring his designs to finished glory, the pace of production is hectic, especially as Krakoff wants to include a five piece tea set: sugar spoon, sugar dish, creamers, teapot and tray. One of his workers admits he has spent 230 hours on the tea set, alone.
Naturally, these pieces won’t go for a song. Nonetheless, it’s not often a collector can find beauty, craftsmanship, heritage and utility in a single object– a collectible likely to grow in value over the years. One word of caution, however. Whoever can afford to purchase the tea set should budget for several rolls of plastic wrap.