Guest Post from Silver Magpies: Vintage Silver and Etiquette Rebooted

I’m delighted to introduce our guest blogger for today, Nancy of Silver Magpies.  If you read my last post about My Favorite Recipe Contest, the Silver Magpies name is already familiar to you. What inspires me most about Nancy is her belief in using silver – every day. Be sure to enter the contest by August 6 if you haven’t already done so! We’ve simplified the entry process to allow all to enter (whether you are a Facebook user or not). Part of the prize is a vintage silver dish from Nancy herself!

Dining with Silver, Dinnerware, Table Manners, SilverwareVintage silver and etiquette rebooted
When Diane asked if I’d like to write a post for her blog, I’ll be honest, my first reaction was butterflies in my tummy.  After all, what could I possibly have to offer? A post on how to set the table correctly, or which fork to use? What could I write about? Then it struck me…


Vintage silver and etiquette – just like the old days
But these are not the old days, and both Diane and I know that our at-first-glance-old-fashioned subjects are completely relevant and useful right now. Being gracious and well mannered is not a quaint relic of the past. Familiarity with the gracious arts makes you memorable for all the right reasons.


Unpack the family silver
Good silver, just like good manners, should be used every day for best results.

1. Saving your silver for best, means it’s often not accessible or ready to use on special occasions. The holidays and big events are stressful enough without having to remember to go to the attic and clean the silver because no one has touched it in years.

2. If you don’t treasure it, who will? Memories are the essential, invaluable connection between the silver and those you hope will cherish it as much as you do.

3. Silver is soft, and once used and cared for, it acquires tiny surface marks. Over time, these marks develop into patina.
This is not an imperfection, it is a desirable state, collectors prize patina. A mirror shine is a sure sign of infrequent usage.

4. The Victorians got a little carried away with specialty serving and place pieces for every conceivable type of food. View the description of the piece as a suggestion rather than strict rule. I’m quite sure no etiquette expert is going to look up from the table and say “that’s a fried oyster server, why are you using it for the potato salad?”

5. At its most basic, silverware is about food. Food is primal and universal. It also speaks volumes about your family. It doesn’t matter where you eat, or if it’s BBQ or Beef Wellington, if the silver isn’t good enough for your family, who is it good enough for?

Would you like to know a big secret?
I can hear you wondering, “use the silver every day…but what about cleaning and polishing it?” The secret is simple, the more you use silver the less you polish it.  Regularly used silver never has a chance for tarnish to build-up. In my home, the silver gets cleaned in the dishwasher. It gets polished about as often as it would if I stored it in the attic, but it looks much better.

Additionally, the silver is transformed from being a source of guilt (I must do something about Grandma Helen’s silver) into a source of pleasure. A candelabra you love and some treasured flatware will make every meal, even Wednesday night mac-n-cheese, a little sweeter.

And when you have the boss/neighbors/PTA chair over for dinner, if you should run out of polite chit-chat for some reason, you’ll be able to entertain them with a story about the fried oyster server and how you think it’s perfect for potato salad.

Silver Magpies

Nancy Stuckwisch of Silver Magpies has had a life-long fascination with vintage silver. She believes we should get the silver out of the cupboard, onto the table, and then into the dishwasher. Thank you, Nancy, for your guest post today. I hope my readers will take out their vintage silver and begin using it in their own homes – every day! Be sure to visit the Silver Magpies website for more great tips on antique and vintage silver.


Raising my silver flute to you,


Diane Gottsman

Diane Gottsman is a national etiquette expert and modern manners professional, sought out industry leader, television personality, accomplished speaker, Huffington Post blogger, author, and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training. Diane is routinely quoted in national and international media including The New York Times, The BBC, CNN, Bloomberg Business Week, Kiplinger, Huffington Post Canada, U.S. News and World Report, and Forbes. She is the resident etiquette expert for two popular morning talk shows, SA Living and Good Day Austin. She has been seen on The TODAY Show, HLN Headline News, WGN Chicago, and CBS Sunday Morning. Her clients range from university students to Fortune 500 companies and her workshops cover topics ranging from tattoos in the workplace to technology at the dinner table and the proper use of social media.


  1. Mary says

    I wholeheartedly agree!! I love sterling and use my pieces whenever I get a chance, often stirring my chocolate milk with a silverplate iced tea spoon. Thanks for the great blog!

  2. Diane says

    Warm thanks for your comment. So glad to know you enjoy and use your silver pieces. Silver adds a nice touch of elegance to an otherwise ordinary day!
    ~ Diane

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