"High-HOtel Silver"

Long before the freeway enhanced motel chain came into existence, travelers were housed in city centered, large, affluent hotels with vast, uniformed, white glove-clad, staff. Elegant dining rooms with elaborate multi-coursed meals awaited the hotel guests who were attended by numerous wait staff.

During the Victorian Era, American hotels copied the grand style of the opulent inns of Europe, and American silversmiths produced sturdy silver plated serving pieces and flatware to accompany the dining experience. Hotel silver, made originally for the grand European hotels, restaurants, railways and steamship lines was beautiful, hefty and durable. Found on travels throughout England and the Continent, the silver serving pieces were copied and created likewise for American private clubs, hotels, railway cars, and steamship lines as it was handsome in its pure functional design, and a pleasure to handle. Hotel and private club staff would spend hours polishing the serving pieces that glistened on candle-lit tables enhancing the diners' sense of quality and prestige. Reed Barton, International Silver and Gorham became large stake holders in the silver industry between 1890 and 1941 and manufactured mass quantities of heavy silver serving ware. At the dawn of World War 2, employment vacancies were more difficult to fill, and the heavy copper plated pieces were not conducive to the metal needs of the war. Hence, the trade fell out of use as stainless steel was easier to maintain with less staff necessary to clean and polish the silver. Eventually, even the most exclusive dining rooms abandoned the use of silver plated service, consequently, silver became archaic in style, function and demand. Today, collectors seek rare, marked pieces bearing the crests of Carlton, Plaza, Ritz, and various old money private clubs.