History Revealed Through the Eyes of Antiques

By guest blogger Dawn Corley, “The Charleston Silver Lady”

Silver has long been used to mark special events; particularly in the South.   In the 17th and 18th century in America the use of melted silver coins to craft pieces gave us a socially acceptable way to transfer monetary stability from one generation to the next. Many coin silver goblets, flatware and other objects offer us a window in to this practice; coupled with the ability of the silversmith to hand craft these objects, these pieces have become icons of gracious Southern living.

A bride’s basket (pictured here) was an elegant expression of emotion as far back as the mid-18th century; in Europe and in America. Wrought of coin silver, sterling, silver over copper or in the case of more modern varieties; silver plate, these lovely baskets emote the feelings associated with a wedding and often have inspired hand engravings covering the surface such as birds and vines, leaves and butterflies; each motif a symbol of the new life to come.   Using a 1850’s wedding as an example, the basket would have had a dual purpose.  The flower girl would have carried it down the aisle ahead of the bride to distribute flower petals (often dried) and at the wedding table the basket was placed central to hold the bridal bouquet or a piece of wedding cake for the bride and groom to take on their journey.  This basket was then used to ornament a prominent room in their new home. This basket would provide monetary stability, a tie to life before marriage and a lovely remembrance of a very special day. Bride’s baskets are nearly always present in southern homes of note. They are as sought after today as they were when originally made.

To learn more “Through The Eyes of Antiques” please join us January 26-29, 2012 for The Sanctuary’s exclusive and hands-on Antique School Weekend with Dawn & Chuck Corley.