The holiday season now upon us, it is a lovely time to reflect on all the things that enhance the beauty and elegance of these special occasions. Uppermost among these, for me, is the flatware with which we commune at the holiday table.
I am fortunate to have a "silver wardrobe" which allows me to creatively dress and accessorize the table as I do my own wardrobe. I have been the lucky recipient of many a deceased relative's largesse, providing me with an assortment of sterling boxes to open at whim. I enjoy using the different patterns with my various china patterns and stemware as well to create different moods for each occasion: for example, Christmas morning I typically use my grandmother's English flatware with my great-grandmother's Derby china and some circa 1942 American Fostoria stemware. Christmas dinner is a completely different assembly, usually Steuben or Waterford stemware and either Mottahedeh, Fitz & Floyd, Old Avesbury or even my Spode Christmas china.
I must say that my favorite amongst the flatware is my Jacobi & Company sterling flatware, circa 1890.
August Jacobi was an exceptional silversmith who worked in Baltimore during the late 1800's and early 1900's. His work was marked A. JACOBI from about 1879-1889. In 1890, the company name changed to A. JACOBI & CO., when his son, W. F. Jacobi, joined him in business. In 1894, the Jacobis partnered with W. Armour Jenkins, another prominent silversmith in Baltimore, to create Jacobi & Jenkins Co.
Mine is a complete set of 18, including such bygone relics of a grander way of life as fish forks, demitasse and creamed soup spoons, grapefruit spoons, berry spoons, et al. In addition, it also includes a set of mother-of-pearl-handled knives, which I treasure.
The engraving reflects my family's name--the southern branch of our family, of course. The set is in its original heavy wooden box, also engraved with the monogram of my ancestor.
There is something very special about holding in one's hand the sterling of the past. Not only is it heavier--and more "sterling" than today's sterling--but for those of us with a vivid connection to the past, it is redolent of all the meals and occasions that have come before. It is easy for me to envision never-known relations as they lifted the same knives, forks and spoons to their mouths, or gestured with same in hand during lively conversations at table. I can imagine Christmas and Thanksgiving of 1890, when the set was brand-new, in the new home of my ancestor bride, as she proudly entertained her in-laws and extended clan. How many hundreds, thousands, of dinners have these implements accompanied? If they could talk, what would they say of my family, what stories could they tell? This is the richness and endless mystery of the antique...the unfathomable history to which it was silent witness.
I wish you all a happy reunion with loved ones...and possibly even a communion with something old as well.