Polish silverware traditions throughout the ages
In Poland, silverware has traditionally been considered a symbol of high social status. At first only affordable to the wealthy aristocracy, it later became increasingly popular in the wider circles of Polish nobility. Like precious pieces of jewellery, heirloom silver tableware, usually bearing the family initials, was passed down from generation to generation, often as a birthday or wedding gift as well as part of the inheritance. Of course, the family collections were also regularly expanded with the arrival of new members of the family, whether by birth or marriage, so the growing collection was also a sign of the family’s growing prosperity and wealth.
The advance of the industrial revolution helped modernize the traditional manufacturing process, especially in the area of silver-plating. The 19th century saw dynamic development of Polish towns and cities and the growing wealth of the Polish society. The social life concentrated around the table during numerous elegant dinners and exquisite afternoon teas. But the newly-formed aspiring middle class could not afford silver tableware, then strongly considered testimony to the taste, wealth and social status of the hosts. So silver-plated tableware came to use on their tables.
Covered with a thin layer of finest silver and given the same decorative and intricate finish, metal tableware looked deceptively similar to the most luxurious silver one but was considerably less expensive. Understandably, the fashion for silver-plated tableware took off instantaneously. Striving to outdo one another, small manufacturers kept coming up with ever more elegant designs of dinner and dessert cutlery. With increasingly more sophisticated dishes appearing on the tables, there was also growing need for suitable specialised cutlery, in accordance with the dining etiquette.
The heyday of Polish silverware manufacturing came in the 1920s and 1930s when many Polish manufacturers opened their representative offices and showrooms around the world on all continents. Royal families, as well as exclusive hotels and restaurants made regular orders of Polish silverware, recognising its highest quality and traditional hand-crafted manufacturing methods.
The popularity of Polish silver and silver-plated products was only interrupted by the outbreak of World War Two. Not many manufacturers managed to survive it but the tradition of Polish silverware was continued despite the economic difficulties. Even in the darkest times of communism, Polish families kept the tradition of the Polish table beautifully decorated with Polish silverware very much alive.
Today, Polish silverware is still hand-crafted with greatest care and attention to every detail and with focus on excellent hand workmanship. And it is pleasing the eye of every discerning connoisseur of style and beauty. The tradition of family silverware collections has been revived, as well as new traditions have been born – for instance, in line with the English idiom “to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth”, parents and godparents of new-born children present them with personalised silver birthday spoons to ensure for them a lifetime of happiness and health.
With its strong tradition, unmistakable trademark and unparalleled properties, Polish silverware is bound to remain the epitome of elegance on the Polish table for many future generations to come.