Relevant categories: Silver Plate
( Above photo - Sheffield silver plate epergne converts from candelabra to glass dish )
An epergne was an important item for both decoration and functionality. It was used as centrepiece on the dinner table and had a large central dish or bowl sitting on the main branch. Suspended on the central stem were several branches with smaller bowls. On these bowls, the host displayed sweetmeats. Epergnes were made from several types of materials including glass and ceramic. However, the main material from which they were made is silver. That is why today we are interested in discussing all about the silver plate epergne.
Most of the silver plate epergnes available on the market were made during the Victorian period, even though there are many that come from other eras. They were stunning, beautiful, and extravagant dinner table centrepieces. The main material from which they were made is copper. A silver plate was then applied onto the surface to give it the characteristic grey look.
History Of the Silver Plate Epergne
(Above photo - Majestic silver plate center piece epergne )
The epergne first originated in France. In 1715, it was introduced in England. It featured frame parts that could carry different types of dishes according to the course or meal that was being served. Early manufacturers of the epergne included Crespin and Lamerie. Their pieces featured an elaborately sculptured base interspersed by casters and cruet.
From 1740 onwards, epergnes took on the role of central baskets suspended on a low standing base. Surrounding the central basket were four smaller bowls or baskets suspended on branches rising from above the feet. In the central basket, people mainly displayed fruits and pickles as well as sweetmeats in the smaller ones.
( Above photo - Fruit and nuts in the silver plate epergne )
The 1760s saw an increase in the number of baskets and dishes to a total of twelve. The silver plate epergne has a higher frame and lighter components. Later in the 18th century, designers introduced delicate piercings while also replacing hanging baskets with smaller bowls. The stands became flattered such that the silver plate epergnes could be used by individuals.
Epergnes were made in all shapes and sizes depending on what the designers deemed right. One of the most popular epergne types was given the shape of a Chinese pagoda. It is an elegant piece of art that stands out when used on any dinner table.
(Above photo - Silver plate centrepiece with a Sheffield stamp )
Because of their intricate, delicate designs, silver plate epergnes were expensive pieces of art. A lot of care and attention to detail was required to come up with just one silver plate epergne. Its high cost made hosting dinner a very costly affair. Only a few homes could afford them.
To make life easier for the masses, manufacturers replaced silver dishes with crystal bowls. This somewhat brought down the cost of the silver plate epergne. As such, you are likely to find pieces with solid silver bowls and others with crystal dishes. So, don’t get confused when you see an item that doesn’t quite look like the one you expected.
Today, you can find a large collection of silver plate epergnes in antique shops across the world. They serve as perfect centrepieces and interior décor accessories.
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