6 Kinds of Vintage Silver Hollowware Plus a Ringer

Pin It

What is vintage silver hollowware? An interesting conversation over the weekend illuminated one of those places where it’s easy to miss seeing the forest for the trees. The question that came up was about napkin rings…as in “what is that?” It’s a napkin ring.”

An introduction to vintage silver hollowware

Hollowware is simply defined as anything that holds something. At the obvious end of the spectrum it includes compotes, dishes, cups, pitchers.

Perhaps less obviously candlesticks and candelabra, trays and platters, and napkin rings are also considered hollowware.

Variations on a theme

1. Compotes – these are generally a cup or dish on a raised base. They are also sometimes called tazzas. These pieces can be weighted silver or unweighted.

Vintage silver compote

A pair of compotes with tall bases. Click photo for full details.

Vintage silver - Tiffany flat compote

Instead of being a curved dish this piece is flat. Click photo for full details.

2. Bowls & dishes – exactly as they sound with a few variations

Vintage silver hollowware

This piece has a flat base, allowing it to rest directly on the table surface. Click photo for full details.

Vintage silver hollowware footed bowl

This large bowl sits on a short pedestal base. Generally speaking the division between footed bowls and compotes is the height of the base. Click photo for full details.

Vintage silver hollowwware bowl with feet

This bowl rests on a trio of legs with feet. This bowl is one of my personal favorites...it has lots of personality. Click photo for full details.

3. Pitchers & cups – from large to small for pouring and serving all kinds of liquids

Vintage silver hollowware - pitcher

A large pitcher for serving drinks. Click photo for full details.

Vintage silver pitcher

A smaller sauce or gravy jug. Click photo for full details.

4. Candlesticks & candelabra – yes, they are hollowware because they hold candles.

Vintage silver hollowware - candlesticks

A pair of simple Art Deco candlesticks, each one holds a single candle. Click photo for full details.

Vintage silver candelabra

A pair of 5 light candelabra. Candelabra hold more than 1 candle at time. Click photo for full details.

5. Trays & Platters – despite not being hollow, they hold things!

Sadly I haven’t got a good photo at the moment…but I’m pretty sure you know what a tray looks like.

6. Napkin rings – the piece that stated it all. A simple ring of silver used to decorate a napkin and mark to whom it belongs.

Vintage silver napkin ring

A napkin ring in profile. They can be circles, ovals, squares...

Vintage silver napkin ring

Napkin ring in use. Click photo for full details.

7. The ringers!

vintage silver ladle

It's hollow and holds liquid. Click photo for full details.

It might be natural to consider ladles and scoops as hollowware as they hold things. But no, they fall into the flatware category. No one said it would be logical 🙂


Can you think of a better name than hollowware?

Pin It

4 thoughts on “6 Kinds of Vintage Silver Hollowware Plus a Ringer

  1. Jay RemerNo Gravatar

    I don’t consider napkin rings hollowware. I may be mistaken, but I always thought of hollowware as having hollow spaces within the silver, such as candle sticks and compotes, where cement or other heavy material might be poured for added weight. But then what does one do with a knife, which is obviously flatware? But then again, one of my closest buddies at Sotheby’s used to refer to paintings as flatware, jokingly of course. Perhaps the hollowware category does need some clarity.

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Hi Jay –

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment. Hollowware does need some clarification doesn’t it. Weighted silver and hollowware are separate categories although they do overlap.

      While many pieces of hollowware are weighted to add stability and strength some hollowware is not weighted. The Tiffany compotes (pic 2) and fluted bowl (pic 4) are not weighted. I have seen a few pairs of tall unweighted candlesticks (although I wouldn’t leave them unattended with candles burning!!)

      The compotes (pic 1) and both sets of candleholders (pics 8 +9) are weighted.

      As best I can describe hollowware holds/contains/carries things and weighting is a construction technique.

      Paintings as flatware…I like that.

  2. IvetteNo Gravatar

    I want them all!! I feel so educated. Now I know what holloware is. And I never would have thought of a napkin ring as holloware! But so it is!

Comments are closed.