Do you love vintage silverware, cutlery, or flatware? Get inspired with these 45 fabulous decorating ideas, from vignettes to table settings.

Vintage Silverware

Vintage or antique silverware is a cherished and elegant addition to any dining experience. These exquisite pieces of cutlery, often made from sterling silver or silver-plated materials, carry a sense of history and craftsmanship. From intricately designed patterns to the weight and feel of each utensil, vintage silverware captures the essence of a bygone era.

Vintage Silverware in Box.

What is antique silverware?

“Vintage” typically refers to items at least 20 years old, while “antique” usually applies to items over 100 years old. Vintage silverware encompasses various styles, patterns, and origins, each with its unique story.

Vintage Sterling Silverware Collections

I have two favorite sterling silverware collections that I enjoy decorating with so very much. One I inherited, and the other I thrifted.

My Mother’s Sterling Silverware

My favorite is the vintage sterling silverware set that I inherited from my parents. It was given to them approximately 70 years ago as a wedding present. My mother collected and added to the original collection over the years. I treasure it dearly and have often shared it on my table settings. As you can see from the organization in the box, we use it quite regularly.

Pro Tip: To prevent tarnishing, return sterling silverware to an airtight box when not in use. That is why most sterling silverware sets come with a storage box.

Order of the Eastern Star Vintage Silverware

My second vintage sterling silverware collection was found at Vintage Market Days last year. It is a set from the “Order of the Eastern Star.” You may learn and see more in the Order of the Eastern Star Amidst This Vintage Market Haul post.

Order of the Eastern Star Amidst This Vintage Market Haul
Order of the Eastern Star Amidst This Vintage Market Haul

I recently picked up more “OES” vintage silverware to add to my collection; see more in this Vintage Marketplace: Infinite Unique Decor post.

Vintage Sterling Silverware Table Ideas

Everyday Use

I use my sterling silverware as our everyday cutlery—my mother did, too. I even throw it into the dishwasher daily. And I polish it about every couple of years.

Vintage sterling silverware is not as high maintenance as one may believe.

A vintage table setting with plates and silverware on a wooden table.
Fireside Hearth and Home: Cozy Dining

Silverware Table Settings

Mix and Match

Have you ever considered mixing and matching vintage silverware patterns for a charming, eclectic table setting look? If you like this style, it will make the thrill of collecting various flatware patterns more fun and creative for you.

I mostly use my sterling silverware patterns on my tables. Here are a few table settings you may enjoy:

With my mother’s vintage silverware

With “Order of the Eastern Star”

12 Table Topics with Thrifted Tea and Toast Fanfare

How to Polish Vintage Sterling Silverware

The best way to polish vintage sterling silverware is to gather the necessary supplies:

Lay the soft cloth on a clean, flat surface and place the silverware on it. Apply a small amount of silver polishing cream or polish onto the cloth and gently rub it onto the silverware using back-and-forth motions, covering all areas, including handles and patterns.

A soft-bristle toothbrush dipped in polish can be used for intricate patterns or hard-to-reach areas. Rinse the silverware under running water to remove excess polish, then pat dry with a soft cloth.

Finally, use a clean portion of the cloth to buff and shine the silverware in circular motions. Inspect for any remaining tarnished areas and repeat the process if necessary. Proper storage in a dry, tarnish-resistant box, cloth, or pouch is recommended to minimize future tarnishing.

There are many different sterling silverware polish creams available today. I have found that they all work equally well.

You may also enjoy the How to Safely Bring Age Stained Textiles Back to Life post.

Table with vintage textiles and silverware flatware.
Romantic Antique Table Setting with Thoughtful Design

Thrifting with the Gals

It’s the third Thursday of the month, and that means it’s time for Thrifting with the Gals. The time when the gals and I all get together to share our favorite monthly thrifted finds with you, along with a few tips and tricks in vintage home decorating.

We are excited to welcome back our guest host, Cindy of County Road 407, this month. Cindy shares How to Mix Charming Old Finds with New Pieces in Home Decor, which I know you will love!

Thrifting with the Gals’ Blog Posts


Silver Stamped Spoon Bracelet

Vintage Silverware Craft Ideas

With a little creativity, you can transform your vintage silverware into functional and decorative pieces that add a touch of charm to your home or garden.

  • Jewelry: Transform vintage silverware into unique and stylish jewelry pieces. Forks and spoons can be bent and shaped to create bracelets, rings, pendants, and earrings. You can also add beads, gemstones, or other embellishments to personalize the jewelry. My friend, KariAnne of Thistlewood Farms, shares a Silver Spoon Bracelet tutorial you may enjoy.
  • Wall Art: Use vintage silverware to create decorative wall art. Arrange the utensils in interesting patterns or shapes and mount them on a wooden board or frame. You can paint or distress the silverware for a vintage or rustic look.
  • Garden Markers: Engrave or attach labels to the handles of old silverware to create charming garden markers. Use them to identify different plants or herbs in your garden.
  • Wind Chimes: String old silverware with a fishing line or twine to make a unique wind chime. Hang it in your garden or on your porch, and enjoy the soothing sounds as the utensils gently clink together in the breeze.
  • Napkin Rings: Bend the handles of old spoons or forks to create stylish napkin rings. You can leave them as is or add decorative elements like beads or ribbon.
  • Keychains: Attach a small piece of silverware to a keyring to create a one-of-a-kind keychain. This can be a practical and decorative way to use old silverware.
  • Drawer Pulls: Replace conventional drawer pulls with vintage silverware handles. Attach the utensils to your drawers and cabinets using screws or adhesive.
  • Coat Hooks: Mount old silverware on wood or a wall to create unique coat hooks. Bend the utensils to form hooks and attach them securely.
  • Spoon Hooks: Bend the handles of old spoons to create hooks. These can hang kitchen towels, aprons, or other lightweight items.
Vintage Silverware Set in Box
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Vintage Silverware Box

Look for vintage cutlery boxes in your thrifting travels, too. I found this cute red one while I was out antiquing in Maine this winter with Molly in Maine. See more in the Antiquing 101: A Guide From the Trail post. I adore using it as a silverware carrier with our porch tables.

Do you have a vintage silverware box that you aren’t using? See how Rachel transformed hers in this Trash to Treasure! How I Repurposed an Old Silverware Box post.

Thrifted Vintage Cutlery

Bakelite Handle Cutlery

Last week, while in Maine, I found a 15-piece set of vintage Bakelite cutlery made by Sheffield for $20. It’s in such a beautiful condition that it inspired today’s blog post. Over the past few years, I have noticed vintage silverware trending everywhere. And if you’re lucky, you can find it affordably, too.

Vintage Wooden Cutlery Set in Box.

Sheffield Cutlery

Sheffield cutlery refers to cutlery (knives, forks, spoons, etc.) made in Sheffield, England. The company has a long history of producing high-quality cutlery, dating back to the 14th century. The city became renowned for its skilled craftsmen, who produced exceptional blades and utensils.

Sheffield Cutlery is known for its craftsmanship, precision, and durability. The cutlery is often made from stainless steel or silver and is highly regarded for its sharpness, balance, and elegant designs.

Vintage Wooden Cutlery in Country Style Kitchen

Today, Sheffield continues to be a hub for cutlery production, and many traditional manufacturers and craftsmen still operate in the city. The Sheffield Cutlery Museum is a popular attraction where visitors can learn about the history and craftsmanship of Sheffield Cutlery.

This cutlery set will remain in the kitchen at our home in Maine. After setting this pink table setting during our stay, I was inspired to pull out one of my mother’s pewter pitchers to house and display this new thrifted vintage Sheffield cutlery set, which complements the wooden counters.

Bakelite

Next to sterling silverware, I also love collecting vintage wooden-like handle cutlery. Its rustic yet elegant charm adds a beautiful texture to all dining settings. But they’re not wooden handles; it’s Bakelite.

Are you familiar with Bakelite?

Bakelite is a type of synthetic resin that was developed in the early 20th century. It was the first synthetic plastic material and became widely used for various applications. One of the key properties of Bakelite is its ability to be molded and shaped when heated, and once cooled, it retains its shape. This characteristic made Bakelite a popular material for manufacturing various products, including electrical insulators, automotive parts, radios, telephones, kitchenware, jewelry, and more.

Bakelite is known for its distinctive appearance. It has a smooth and shiny surface and is available in various colors, including black, brown, red, and green. Bakelite was highly popular during its heyday due to its affordability, versatility, and durability. However, its use declined in the mid-20th century with the advent of newer and more advanced plastics.

Today, Bakelite is still valued by collectors and enthusiasts for its historical significance and unique aesthetic. Vintage Bakelite items, such as jewelry and kitchenware, are sought after by those who appreciate its retro charm.

Vintage Bakelite Utensils

Here is another set of vintage silverware that I picked up at an antique shop for $10 a bundle.

Just look at their fabulous color and rustic charm.

I love the country charm so much that these utensils will accompany us in our new RV this summer. Learn more in our new blog series, Antiquing Road Trips & RV Decor Series.

These vintage silverware pieces will also be stored nicely in these adorable Cutlery Roll Travel Utensil Cases. The Bakelite handles match the RV dinnerware beautifully.

RV Dinnerware on Table
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You may see more decorative ideas with these Bakelite vintage silverware sets in these posts:

Irish Royal Tara China Place Setting with Bakelite vintage silverware.
Bless Your Table with Irish Royal Tara China

Vintage Lobster Utensils

How many of you have vintage lobster utensils?

I have shared our lobster utensils many times on the blog, but I don’t know how often I mention that they are vintage, used by my mother as she grew up in Coastal Maine.

My grandfather was a lobsterman and owned a lobster pound. Learn more in the Coastal Maine Heritage – Embracing My Roots post.

Lobsters are a way of life in Maine, not just a delicacy. So, having a set of my mother’s and, in retrospect, my grandmother’s lobster utensils is a treasure. Vintage silverware isn’t just about the fork, knife, and spoon. It is a gift from years of love and family table conversations.

See more in these lobster table setting posts:

Vintage Silverware Alfresco

Vintage silverware can elevate your outdoor picnics and alfresco table settings, too.

I have also used my mother’s sterling silverware around our fire pit and porch for outdoor dining.

You may see more Alfresco vintage silverware ideas in these posts:

Silverware Pouches

Transform your table setting with my favorite Cutlery Couture silverware pouches. Discover how to add an extraordinary table accent to any occasion.

Silverware pouches, also known as silverware holders or cutlery pouches, are practical and decorative accessories used for storing and presenting silverware or cutlery sets.

Learn more in this post about Silverware Pouches to Elevate Your Everyday Table. They are super cute and have several styling options.

Silverware pouches with table place setting.
Silverware Pouches to Elevate Your Everyday Table

Mason Jars, Bows, Demi-Tray

Mason jars and various collected bottles are charming storage display options for outdoor and indoor table settings. They are also ideal for buffet, grazing, or kitchen counter entertaining. Add a bow or a ribbon to elevate their farmhouse-cottage appeal.

Demi-Tray

Do you know what that silver piece is in the center of the vintage blue dish?

It is a Demi-Tray from my mother’s vintage silverware collection. Have you ever seen these before? They are clip-on dinnerware ashtrays for 1950s dinner parties. A Demi-Tray is an ashtray for every after-dinner smoker. I think they are so neat, so “Mad Men.”

More Thrifted Finds

Because this is a Thrifting with the Gals post, you may also enjoy some of these goodies I found thrifting this past month.:

  • Garden Basket
  • Vintage Garden Hose Nozzles
  • Package of Pink Napkins
  • Lobster Apron
  • Tennis Racquet Napkin Holders

I hope you found loads of inspiration while visiting with us here today. We’re so glad you stopped by!

Now, the lilacs are blooming, and I must go… Happy Thrifting!

A Vintage Affair

If you have any thoughts, comments, or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you. Please share in the comments below. And be sure to share this blog post link with your friends who are also vintage enthusiasts.

Do you have a flair for all things vintage, too? I would love to see and feature you in our Reader’s Showcase Series. A place for you to share and be recognized for your talents and passion for all things thrifting, vintage, and antique decor-related inspired by your time here with Dabbling & Decorating. Email me at annck@dabblinganddecorating.com

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12 Comments

  1. Lora Bloomquist says:

    You’ve got a wonderful array of vintage silverware sets, Ann! I have always loved the Bakelite handled ones, but they’re always pricy. Yes, there are so many great silverware upcycling ideas out there. I know I love to wear repurposed silverware jewelry. Great post!

  2. Ann, I love this post. There’s something so wistful about vintage silverware. Ed used my mom’s as everyday silverware also. And I never heard of Bakelite. I’m on the hunt. Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much Cara, I silverware and this post was way overdue. Yes Bakelite! It’s everywhere, you should be able to easily find some, fingers crossed.

  3. Barb from PA says:

    Ann , Love your blog. I’m a Vintage and secondhand only girl. I have in my neighborhood an auction house that has online auctions each week, antiques , vintage and primitives. Usually about 1,00 lots, some are tables filled with glass, old lighting etc. I love all things home and in the last year bought several sets of flatware (silver, bakelite etc.) Have visited Maine and Vermont. Enjoyed lobster and the Sugar Shak. Your one of my fav blogs. I read everything you put out. Keep up the Great Work!

    1. Barb, you made my day, oh my! And an antique auction house right in your own neighborhood, just wow! How nice that would be! I’m so glad you enjoy the blog, I love sharing it all too. Best to you and thanks for following along, always.

  4. Cindy@CountyRoad407 says:

    So many wonderful ideas! I have a weakness for silverware. We use them for every day at the farmhouse. I found some at a market too and scooped up several. Used them as towel hooks, and made a coat rack with an old porch column. I also love your plates! I am going to find some blue and white dishes to go along with my new green floral salad plates. I never thought to mix those two colors. And after seeing your beautiful table, I can use them for patriotic holidays too! Wish we could hang out more. I’d be in heaven picking your brain. Oh, and going shopping up in your part of the world! Thanks for having me. Love TWTG!

    1. Cindy, you’re the best, I just adore your style too. I need to make more things with the silver pieces I find. I’m so drawn to them. Happy Thrifting!

  5. Robyn Huff says:

    Ann! These are great tips and ideas! I love vintage silver but hadn’t thought of all the great ways to use vintage silverware! Pinned!

  6. RACHEL HARPER says:

    Ann,
    I’ve always loved collecting vintage silverware. However, I’ve been drawn to more silver pieces recently. I love all your collections and ideas. Great post.

    1. Me too Rachel, there’s just something about it all. It’s all so unique and charming. Thanks so much!

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