Worth replacing: mix-and-match vintage silver

I’m a big person. In fact, statistical info tells me that I’m the same height as the average Canadian man and only slightly heavier (about 2 lbs) than the average Canadian woman.

I blame my size on my preference for heavy cutlery. I know it sounds odd but I really can’t enjoy a meal if I have to eat it with flimsy cutlery that doesn’t feel weighted and solid in my hand. I just don’t do dainty. And, if that flimsy cutlery is also cheap and imbues food with a metallic taste, I’m really livid.

These pet peeves led me to start buying vintage silverware a few years ago. Today I have a good-sized collection that includes all the everyday pieces and many specialty utensils such as oyster forks and espresso spoons.

I use my vintage cutlery every day and it goes in the dishwasher with all the other everyday stuff. I don’t care that it doesn’t match and that it has developed a soft patina (actually, most of it arrived with a patina since it was all purchased used on eBay or at antique stores). For me, that’s part of the charm.

Guests often ask me how I can stand having to polish my silver regularly and they’re often shocked to hear that I’ve got a great four step, organic solution for that nasty job. Once every few weeks when I start to see a little tarnish on the fork tines,

1. I line my sink with aluminum foil.
2. Then I spread the cutlery out on the foil;
3. Sprinkle coarse salt evenly over top and
4. Fill the sink with hot water.

If the tarnish hasn’t come off completely just from those steps, I just rub the affected spot with a corner of the used aluminum foil. It’s that easy. The whole process takes less than half an hour and that is why my vintage, mix-and-match cutlery is both 100% worth replacing and a good topic for Labour Day!

Do you have any pet peeves about cutlery, plates or glassware? Or, am I alone in having strong preferences around all of these topics?


13 Responses to Worth replacing: mix-and-match vintage silver

  1. Kitt says:

    I don’t have strong feelings about cutlery, but I do like it to be fairly heavy gauge, too. I have some good, basic stainless for everyday, and supplemented the spoons with a very similar pattern from a restaurant-supply place. I dirty spoons at three times the rate of other utensils.

  2. danamccauley says:

    It’s true. When you’re cooking and tasting, you need a lot of spoons. I’m surprised no one has invented packages for tasting spoons to supplement the ones to be used on the table.

  3. jasmine says:

    You know, I was trying to remember this silver cleaning technique–for some reason I thought bicarb was used as well.

    A few years ago we were looking at new cutlery and apparently I’m much more fussy about it than I thought. I’m not into Rococo-ish twirls and swirls and I prefer the service to be rather simple (I suppose to as to not distract from the food)…the I prefer the spoons’ bowls to be round, but not too round and not oblong, four tines per fork and I like having proper soup spoons and other “optional” pieces. Unfortunately, the set we bought “disappeared.”


  4. Hélène says:

    I’m a bit nuts with Glassware. I love all kind of vintage glass wines. I especially love when I find these at ridiculous prices like 25 cents. And cups also. Especially Bone China. I can’t get enough of them. I don’t mind that they don’t look the same. I love cutlery too & vintage tablecloths & plates.

  5. Rebecca says:

    Oh, I hate, hate, hate glassware that isn’t rounded on the inside. I love the straight-edged look of something like a highball glass, but if they’re not rounded on the inside, they catch all that grit from the dishwasher. I’ve learned to always check.

    Good question!

  6. danamccauley says:

    Interesting answers. My mother, who won’t use this comments section, has a pet peeve about coffee mugs. They must be white on the inside or she literally can’t enjoy her coffee.

  7. Cheryl says:

    Wow, I feel like such a slacker! I don’t really pay attention to my cutlery at all. Plus, I have all white dishware (and a few decorative plates for serving and, I must admit, blogging!) and if I had good silver I just wouldn’t take proper care of it. (This is why I don’t buy clothing that needs to be ironed either. Same principle.) God, I’m a slob, now that I think about it. How sad.

  8. danamccauley says:

    well, given the fact that I’ve met you more than once and each time saw you for several days in a row, I can guarantee that you are not a slob. In fact, you just might be super smart.

    As I reread this post, I’m seeing that although I claim to have left my persnickety, fussy ways behind me that I am, in fact, not doing so well with the perfectionista anonymous thing. I’m a huge bag of fussy.

  9. Oh, Dana. I’m with you on the flimsy forks. I love the feel of a well-weighted knife. This quirk can’t be based on size since I’m 3″ shorter than the average Canadian male and weigh 15 kg less than the average woman. Okay. I’m a shrimp but I like hefty cutlery.

    While I haven’t had cutlery impart a metallic taste, I have experienced this in some Indian restaurants where the serving dishes are copper pots. Guess they should use a non-reactive dish?

    I should haul out my grandmother’s silverware…

  10. danamccauley says:

    If you’ve got great silverware, I say use it – grandma will be happy to see it enjoyed!

  11. kashif says:

    Thanks for the information…!

  12. sara jane says:

    Popped over from your post on the kitchn… I too have a whole drawerful of mix n match vintage silver that I use daily… and now, thanks to you, I know how to easily polish it! A Million Thanks!

  13. danamccauley says:

    Always glad to be of service! Hope you’ll pop by again Sara Jane.

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