Silver overlay is a technique whereby thin sheets of silver are laid over a base — often glass or crystal — as a decoration. The point is not to cover the entire object in a coating of silver. Rather, it is to enhance the beauty of the base. Most effective when used to encase curved surfaces, the thin sheets of silver are molded to conform exactly to the object.
Silver Overlay and Fishnet Stockings
In silver plating, the silver covers the object through an electro-chemical process, resulting in a layer of silver that is only approximately 1 micron thick. Once the plating process is complete, the silver and the base metal are fused together.
Silver overlay is a very different technique. The best analogy I can come up with is of ladies stockings! Imagine fishnet stocking on a gorgeous pair of legs…the stockings do not entirely cover the leg…instead they accentuate the curves and the actual pattern of the stocking acts as an additional embellishment. That’s what silver ovelay does for a beautiful piece of crystal.
Silver overlay can be used in a variety of ways. On perfume bottles and decanters, it is often a fine net design that extends around the entire piece. Other times, such as the piece in this photo, the overlay is used only to enhance one section. In this case, silver overlay has been used to decorate only the rim of this Frank Whiting sterling silver and crystal wine coaster.
These silver overlay coasters were very popular in the mid-20th century, and one frequently runs across the individual glass coasters. Much rarer are these large wine bottle coasters. Even better, this coaster is by Frank Whiting and has an interior diameter of just under 5.25 inches (13 cm for my metric readers). A regular 750 ml wine bottle has a diameter of 3 inches (7.62 cm), a magnum — which holds double that amount — is 4 inches (10.16 cm), and a jeroboam — which holds quadruple the amount of a regular wine bottle — is 5 inches (12.7 cm)!
Of course, who says you have to use the coaster to hold a wine bottle? Gorgeous and versatile, this coaster happily held these divine (gluten-free) cookies for its photo shoot.
Chocolate Meringue Cookies (click title for print-friendly version)
- 9 oz (approx. 1.5 cups) chocolate, chopped into chunks (divide into 6 oz and 3 oz portions)
- 3 egg whites
- 2 cups powdered sugar, divided
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1/4 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets. Melt 6 oz chocolate. Cool slightly.
Using electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually beat in 1 cup sugar. Continue beating until mixture resembles a smooth, soft cream.
In a separate bowl, whisk together 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt. On low speed, add dry ingredients into meringue. Then add melted chocolate and the rest of the unmelted chocolate chunks (dough will become very stiff).
Place 1/2 cup sugar in bowl. Divide the dough into 18 pieces and form into balls. Roll each ball in sugar, coating thickly. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing 2 inches apart.
Bake until puffed and tops crack, about 10 minutes. Cool on sheets on rack 10 minutes.
Transfer to rack and let finish cooling…unless, of course, they have already been eaten!
Pass this post on…show your oenophile friends an alternate use for their wine coasters. Maybe you know a cookie-lover on a gluten-free diet…perhaps they’d enjoy it too?!