It’s difficult for me to believe, but Silver Magpies has been in business for two years.
If you asked me then whether I would have a silver store hosted on my own website, be blogging regularly and have a twitter account I’d have laughed until I cried. Now here I am thinking about my “editorial calendar” and merrily tweeting things like ROFL @SilverMagpies. Two years ago, I took a huge leap of faith (in an uncertain economy) and banked (literally!) on finding a sufficient number of people who would be open to my improbable interest in silver for the table.
Why did you start Silver Magpies?
The answer lies within the delicious word quotidian. I know editors remonstrate with people who use a fancy word when a simple one will do instead, but the synonyms just doesn’t make the cut.
A spoon is an utterly quotidian object. On the one hand it’s a functional, basic tool for conveying food to mouth with a minimum of mess. On the other, an antique or vintage silver spoon embodies the most marvelous paradox – an implement so simple and ordinary, intended for everyday use, created with such skill and artistry from a metal considered precious since prehistoric times.
And if that weren’t enough, these amazing yet ordinary items become time travelers due to their value as artistic objet as well as functional object combined with their inherent durability (silver is tougher than most of us think). Created by skilled artisans, decorated in ways that can give us insight into art, history and politics and then cherished and passed from one generation to the next.
It’s heady stuff!
Save the Silver!
But as society has developed and our lives have become ever busier these marvels in our midst have become liabilities rather than assets. Silver became symbolic of stiff formality and a time and labor intensive way of life that is now unrealistic. Convenient and informal (often meaning disposable) have been the catchwords of modern society.
So the silver went into the closet or attic and has sat there…waiting patiently…because remember it’s a time traveler. 50 years inside a box is just the blink of an eye.
The Once and Future Spoon
So I began my journey with Silver Magpies, wondering if:
- I was articulate enough to communicate the just how complex a “simple” spoon is to me
- If anyone else would be interested.
To my never-ending astonishment and delight there are lots of you out there who enjoy hearing about this stuff. More importantly you’re not just interested in knowing the stories in an abstract sense, but you want to incorporate them into your life!
Use it, enjoy it, make memories with it, then put it in the dishwasher has apparently resonated with more people than I thought possible. I’ve received an amazing number of messages from people thanking me, these most recent ones have absolutely floored me.
Hi, Nan…I just received the silver candlesticks, and they are absolutely beautiful! I’m so glad I purchased antique silver instead of something new for my sister’s wedding gift. I love the stories and information behind these candlesticks and where they’ve been. Thanks SO much! Best…E.S.
Dear Nan, I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for helping me to select such a perfect gift for my husband. Not only is the antique wine coaster gorgeous, but the background information and historical references you supplied make this quite a conversation piece…for HIM! Thank you again, and I look forward to seeing the antique champagne buckets you are sourcing for us. JB
I am a repeat customer of Silver Magpies – it’s my ‘go to’ source for beautiful things in silver for myself, my family, and for giftgiving. I love learning the history of the pieces of silver and what it was originally used for – I’ve learned the function of more silver pieces than I could ever have imagined (spooner, anyone?). I’ve learned about silversmiths, makers marks, fake silver and fake marks. With the Silver Magpie guarantee, my purchase is more than just a beautiful piece of silver – it’s an instant heirloom in my family because I receive the history of the piece as well. AND – I’ve taken the ‘plunge’! I donated all my stainless steel place settings and am now using only my 110 year-old sterling – just as they were used by the original owners, before stainless was invented! I love it – now, every day is a special day for me and my family and, I wash it in my dishwasher.
Aside from purchasing fantastic silver, I’ve consigned silver to be sold, had family pieces appraised, and have engaged Silver Magpies to find a specific item for a gift. I’ve given pieces to my children as gifts – a beautiful Whiting dish for my daughter for her dressing table – and later in her life, as a serving dish for her table; a shot cup from France exquisitely engraved for my son’s bar. An 1895 glass and silver flask with detachable cup (goldwashed, in perfect condition) for my husband came from the horse country in Virginia not far from where we live; he’s put it in full functional use, refills it after entertaining with boutique bourbon, and displays it on our bar cabinet. EL
I have enjoyed reading the things posted on your site, and…applaud you for your efforts to encourage people to use silver at any time – I believe that many of us just need a nudge, and perhaps “permission” that is is ok to do so. I…think of all of the years that I did not use my fine china, linens, etc., and due to divorce over 20 years ago, with children/financial responsibilities through the years, am now trying to begin to live the life that I had wanted to live, so it is never too late! – DM
Hi Nan – I read your “How to clean silver” page – thanks much. This was my great grandmother’s and you now have me using it almost daily ! I love living nicely and I have you to thank for it! CB
Hi Nancy. Thank you so much for getting back to me. I had to work through several layers of emotional resistance first, and I wanted to tell you that I truly appreciated your support for my decision to sell the silver. I felt almost as if you had given me permission to let go of it, and step out from under the heavy labels of words like “family heirloom” and “legacy.” I feel much better about the whole process now, even though I’m not sure how long it will take or what the financial result will be. The idea of letting these antiques find a new home, where they’ll be appreciated and cared for, was just what I needed to hear. With gratitude, WC
So thank you from me to you for making Silver Magpies second anniversary possible.