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favorite things | antique flatware


I’m sometimes asked what I look for when I’m out shopping for things for my home or things to sell.  The broad, non-specific answer is that I look for whatever speaks to me.  Certain things just capture my attention.  I like them.

Why do you like what you like?  You just do.

One of the things that I am a total sucker for is antique flatware, specifically bone-handled, French ivory and Bakelite.  And the older, the better.

I first noticed Bakelite in a “country” decorating book years ago.  I don’t remember which one, but I loved it and started hunting for it.  It took a few years before I found a set I was willing to splurge on.  I still have that first set, but have bought and sold (and kept) many pieces since then.

My most recent acquisition was these Civil war era bone-handled flatware with pewter inlay.  Would you believe that they were just a $3 a piece?!  It seems like it should cost so much more for such a precious little piece of history.


But, then again, I’ve bought 100+ year old, solid wood dressers for $30 before…

Anyway, they are just beautiful.  Like little pieces of art.


And I love imagining their story…  Who owned them?  Where have they traveled during their long life?  Which hands have held them?  What kind of conversations have they silently listened to?


I’m sure I’m not the only one with “if-these-walls-could-speak-syndrome” when it comes to old things.


Jeff asked if I was going to keep them.

“Um, yeah!”

“Are we actually going to use them?!”

“No.  I’m just going to love them.  And take lots of pictures of them.”


This blue-handled set of forks and knives are my other favorites to love and take pictures of.  I got a set of 24 for $24, which I thought was a steal for such pretty pieces.


And I’ve picked up other pieces here and there.  I just look for interesting shapes and pretty handles.

mms-5478 mms-4422

I bought those tiny gold spreaders at a yard sale for just a few dollars for the set.


The fork on the right in the photo above is one of the original Bakelite set I bought.  I always loved the little detail above the handle.

Anyone else have a utensil fetish?


PS – I listed a few new things in the online shop earlier this week.

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  1. I love those details, but I try not to buy things that I just “love” anymore. I would never use that flatware and although it’s beautiful, I’d rather someone else loved it!

  2. Barbara says:

    I love those Civil War pieces too! Each piece would have a story….Oh to hear what they would say if they could speak….. When I saw your Bakelite set it reminded me that I picked up 6 pieces that are engraved with FISHER J R & S. I have no idea what that means but I’ll have to do some research. Thanks for sharing. You inspire and encourage me. God bless you!

  3. I was excited to see your older Civil War sets as I recently posted about the very same and was unsure of the time period they came from. I love the three tines they have as well as the small metal detail on the handle. Fun!

  4. Brigitte says:

    Vintage baking tools! I have my grandmother’s egg beater and my mum’s cookie cutters and am on the constant lookout for any other tools. I also use all of them, thinking of how the women in my family worked with them before me.

  5. Pippa says:

    Yep… and dishes, too. Doesn’t everybody?

  6. Stephanie says:

    I must’ve just missed you at the antique store… Because I almost bought that set! I always look for civil war utensils and loved that the knives were with. It’s not as common to find knives for sale.

  7. I’m a sucker for vintage flatware, too. I’ve added to heirloom sets handed down through the family and purchased sets as gifts, collected pieces of hotel silver, and picked up random pieces for DIY and craft projects (a chandelier, garden markers, etc.). I still indulge my love occasionally with the excuse that you can always use more styling options in the studio.
    My husband has stopped asking questions but the eye rolls continue.

  8. Bowls, all kinds of bowls. I just got back from an estate sale on my lunch hour and found a hand thrown pottery pie plate with fluted edge and a white bowl that is ollllllld. I save my real passion for boxes, wood boxes. Like quilt boxes, blanket chests, cedar chests, tool boxes, just plain crates. It’s approaching obsession, really.

  9. jackie pankuck says:

    This is soooooo messin’ with my KonMari mindset right now… yes it sparks joy, but it also sparks dread because I have no where to display them! Anyone else obsessed with Marie Kondo?

  10. three stones says:

    “Jeff asked if I was going to keep them.
    “Um, yeah!”
    “Are we actually going to use them?!”
    “No. I’m just going to love them. And take lots of pictures of them.”

    I feel the same way and I probably say the same to my husband when he sees me coming home from the “recycle” center in town. I drop off the trash and pick up all kinds of cool finds to refill the car back up : ) Hahahha I’m happy. Husband – closes his eyes.

  11. Lynn Merrell says:

    I have an awful utensil fetish. Love monogrammed ones, even if it’s no my monogram, I love little spoons and forks, small ladles and of course the ones like you have. I actually have the same small spreaders. My husbands thinks I’m silly, but there is just something about it. I even have some antique three prong pewter forks that look like civil war era. Ok, enough rattling.Lol

  12. Krista says:

    Really pretty! I always think about who owned things before me and the stories they could tell…especially in Gettysburg!

  13. These are beautiful! well done

  14. Sharee says:

    I love anything monogrammed. Someone took the time to pick something and put their initials on it, they loved it.

  15. When offered so much from my grandmother (an avid traveller and collector) all I took was her set of silver and a few bits of china and crystal. it’s displayed in the china hutch she bought me when I got married….definitely my favourite thing(s) in our home.

  16. Kelly says:

    Not exactly utensils, but individual salt and pepper shakers. I love their tiny size. They can be any material….pressed glass, crystal, silver, etc. Although I have some “newer” sets, I prefer the older sets.

  17. Bambi Mayer says:

    Sterling and nice silver plate flatware, especially spoons. This Christmas I found a sterling cake server with gorgeous engraved including the words “Merry Christmas”. Perfectly tarnished!

  18. Linda says:

    I’m delighted to see this! (I haven’t lost my mind.) I fell in love w an old bone/pewter set (service for 7) years ago when in Stratford, Ontario. I couldn’t resist. They’re marked Joseph Rogers & Sons, Cutlers to Her Majesty, V crown R ). The shop owner told me that sometimes someone special who came to the meal was gifted w his (I’m guessing) 2 forks and knife. Maybe that’s how I got to service for 7. No spoons. I don’t know why. Like all of you, I love to hold these and wonder about the lives & hands they’ve passed through. My forks are clean but some of my knife blades are more marked. I’ve always wondered how safe these are to use. Mostly I just love them.

  19. Linda says:

    I confess I have a thing for bakelite flatware too–a full service in red, and then odd misc pieces (bakelite & also silver). Maybe this affliction is worse than I realized…

  20. I love Bakelite too- took a chance last year and bought a whole boxed
    Lot on eBay. Oh my!!! I have service for 12, gave my friend the same, and sold the rest at a profit!! I love the rich butterscotch color!!

  21. Margie says:

    Many years ago, I purchased a beautiful, ornately engraved set of bone handled knives and forks. I was so proud of finding them and wrapped them carefully in my carryon bag. I had seen a set in a magazine displayed in a crystal vase & that’s how I decided to display them on a small table in my kitchen. They had only been there a day when my dog chased my cat through the kitchen and up she flew onto the table knocking the vase & flatware onto my tile floor. Crystal vase and bone handles…….all shattered. Just a warning to be careful!

  22. Oh, Marian, those are just beautiful – all that detail of the inlays! You’re right – with so much history, it seems they should be worth much more than you paid (they actually are, you were just in the right place, right time!). You live in a wonderful area, full of potentially historical finds. Keep hunting! I also have a fetish with utensils – and have several one-off pieces that I pick up when they speak to me.

  23. Naomi S. says:

    Occasionally I have looked for flatware with the bakelite handles, but have never found any. Do you usually find them in actual antique stores, or in thrift stores? Maybe I just don’t like looking through tons of table ware to find them. They are pretty and interesting and I wonder if the metal part of the utensils is usually silver-plate or something else. I have my grandmother’s silver-plate silverware and really enjoy using it for special occasions. But it does tarnish and it’s quite a job to clean it all.

    Anyway, thanks for the post, Marian. Another thing to consider treasure hunting for!

  24. M sakelik says:

    I too love antique silverware, silver salt/pepper holders and all the trimmings. Ladies…use them, I do all the time…have my husband trained to wash carefully, he now enjoys them too. I use my sterling silverware daily and with company, life is too short,can’t take it with me, so I enjoy now. Every body knows about grandma’s fetish and I think it’s catching on.

  25. Susan says:

    I have a thing for silverware and have a spooner near my coffee maker, where I keep all the pretty spoons I have found. I also collect and use unique butter knives. Some of them look like little swords from the Arabian Nights, they are so elaborate.
    I like the handles of the set you found, but I admit I would be wary of using the utensils because of their condition. Though, like you, I love when i find something old, like the 118 year old gravy boat I just found. Why do some of us love old pieces and others wouldn’t give two shakes? I haven’t any idea…

  26. They are lovely! I like antique items a lot, too. For me, their history costs more than its price.

  27. Rachel says:

    I just acquired a set this week! The gentleman that I date and I are doing the final clean out of an estate. I was working in the dining room and found them in a drawstring cloth bag. I was drawn to them right away, loving the long fork tines and the details. I can not wait to get them home and clean them up! Thank you for the wonderful timing of sharing yours.

  28. Sharon says:

    Flatware Fetish? Yes I do, and I have no intention of seeking help. Love is Love. I have a set of the bone handle knives with the crosses on them. I wish that I knew more about them. I wish I were in an area where they were plentiful. If you ever want to sell yours my name needs to be at the top of the list. Lol.

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