Posted in Antiques & Art, Decorating Ideas, History, Holidays, Vintage Collectibles

by Ruby Lane

vintage-guide-to-using napkin rings

Fine dining is as much about culture as it is about food, and we have practical items to assist us at our dining tables. Among these items are napkin rings, knife rests, salt dips, and marrow scoops. These dining “tools” are unique and beautiful objects. Many of these dining-related objects have lasted generations. They are sometimes used at meals on special occasions, and many people still use them everyday. Thanksgiving Day is just one of these occasions. Tradition and table etiquette is an art and Holiday table-setting is an exciting time for vintage and antique lovers and collectors.

Napkin Rings

The napkin ring (sometimes called a serviette ring) is a simple ring. Napkin rings may take any shape or motif. They sometimes have engraved on them the name or initials of their owner. They are sometimes given as christening presents or as gifts at weddings and anniversaries. In the 19th century, the French middle class popularized napkin rings in Europe.  Many rings were made of silver or silver plate, but others were made of bone, wood, pearl embroidery, porcelain, glass, and various materials. In the 20th century, they were made of newly invented materials such as Bakelite. Figural napkin rings are loads of fun and usually the most ornate that you will find.

Autumn table place setting, thanksgiving, halloween decoration. Top view. Copy space
Aesthetic Engraved Napkin Ring Gothic Embossed Rims Coin Silver

Aesthetic Engraved Napkin Ring Gothic Embossed Rims Coin Silver

Shamrock Design cased Silver Napkin Ring, Birmingham 1902

Shamrock Design cased Silver Napkin Ring, Birmingham 1902

Monkey Dressed in Fine Clothes: Antique Figural Napkin Ring

Monkey Dressed in Fine Clothes: Antique Figural Napkin Ring

Vintage Hawaiian Silver Coin Napkin Ring Five Coins

Vintage Hawaiian Silver Coin Napkin Ring Five Coins

vintage and antique napkin rings on Ruby Lane

Knife Rests

Knife rests were used by early 18th century. They were invented to save the tablecloth from being stained by cooking juices and fluids. They were developed in sets. In the Victorian era, they were made of a wide variety of materials, varying in design and motif. Some were made of costly materials, including gold, silver, mother of pearl, and ivory. The French popularized knife rests, known as porte-couteaux.  Knife rests were used at the table during the first half of the twentieth century, especially by the upper classes. Knife rests now are purchased as collector’s items.

antique and vintage knife rests ruby lane

Salt Dips

The salt dip (also called a salt or a salt cellar) is an item of tableware used to hold salt. It can be either lidded or open, and come in sizes, ranging from large shared bowls to small individual dishes. Salt dips may be simple to ornate, and they are made of various materials, including glass and ceramic, metals, wood, ivory, and plastic.

Pair of Cobalt Blue & White Open Salt Cellar Pedestals, Salt Dips

Pair of Cobalt Blue & White Open Salt Cellar Pedestals, Salt Dips

1921 English Sterling Shell Salt Dish w/ Liner & Spoon Set

1921 English Sterling Shell Salt Dish w/ Liner & Spoon Set

Shiebler Sterling Silver Flower Salt Cellar/Dip

Shiebler Sterling Silver Flower Salt Cellar/Dip

Silver Rimmed Tango Glass Salt Dip

Silver Rimmed Tango Glass Salt Dip

In Medieval and Renaissance times, salt was served in an elaborate container in front of an honored guest to add “a pinch of salt” to their meal. You can see the prominent display of the salt cellar in this c.1500 painting “Marriage at Cana” by Gerard David which is on display at the Louvre. Fine restaurants are bringing back open containers of gourmet salt on their tables but historically, salt cellars were also found on even the most modest table settings.

In Medieval and Renaissance times, salt was served in an elaborate container in front of an honored guest to add “a pinch of salt” to their meal. You can see the prominent display of the salt cellar in this c.1500 painting “Marriage at Cana” by Gerard David which is on display at the Louvre. Fine restaurants are bringing back open containers of gourmet salt on their tables but historically, salt cellars were also found on even the most modest table settings.

Marrow Scoops

Bone marrow of animals has been consumed by humans as food or as a delicacy. European diners in the 18th century often used a marrow scoop (or marrow spoon) as a table implement for removing marrow from a bone. Marrow scoops were often made of silver and they now are chiefly purchased as collector’s items but they are also available now in ‘hipster’ restaurants. Try one – you will be refined and hip at the same time!

marrow scoop ruby lane

You can begin or enlarge your servings or collection of table ware on Ruby Lane. Our shops are here to provide you with a large selection of the finest merchandise for your everyday table and for special occasions.

Happy Holiday Season from all of us at Ruby Lane!

Thanksgiving table decorations

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