The King’s Grand Service – The British Royal Banquet Table Since George IV

Although there is one post here on royal banquets, many have reached this site searching for information on the silver flatware used during a royal banquet.  Not all research has been completed but enough has been unearthed that a few salient facts are available.

As you can see by the following excerpt, more than just flatware comprises the Royal Grand Service:

The magnificent dining silver-gilt used at a State Banquet is from the Grand Service, originally made for George IV when Prince of Wales. It was first used to celebrate the 73rd birthday of his father, George III, in 1811.  As king, George IV continued to add to the service throughout his life, and by his death it included more than 4,000 pieces. Today the Grand Service forms the core of the royal silver and encompasses the best examples of 19th-century design, drawing on Egyptian, Greek, Roman and medieval sources.  The dining plate is dominated by the monumental Mercury and Bacchus and Apples of the Hesperides candelabra, which stand over a metre tall.  Made by the master goldsmith Paul Storr and designed by the sculptor  John  Flaxman,  they  are  always  placed  on  the  table  opposite Her Majesty The Queen and the visiting Head of State. []

It is meant to overwhelm.  Looking at the flatware, it is given over to what is called fiddle, thread and shell patterns.  It is best illustrated if we look at the silver flatware “Kings Pattern” that Tiffany produced around the turn of the century and that was wildly popular.  It incorporates many of the decorative details of the above flatware and follows the development of these patterns through the Edwardian Era.  Replicas were found in every hotel in America.

As time permits, more research will be done on this.  Meanwhile, it is hoped that many of your questions have been answered here.  If not, leave your question in a comment.

In My Grandmother’s Pantry

Long after your grandmother has died, when you think back about her  table settings, her choices will reveal  her “ways” in a manner you had not imagined.  For this reason, everything about a grandmother’s table is of historic, sociological and family interest.  A meal is central to our socialization and it tells us volumes.

Large family dinners and large business-related dinners meant that my paternal grandmother had lots of “gear” to go.  Because her husband ran a department store with an office in London, she could source beautiful linens, stem ware and china at cost.  She favored Minton and L’Imoges and today what she had in her pantry are now styled “Antique Minton” and  “Antique l’Imoges.” Some resembled the following.  My favorites were the raised patterns with gold:

Minton colbalt blue
Detail of raised gold

Her collection of china was very much like the above.  It was like looking at candy.

Her tablecloths and table runners were exquisite.  But most amazing were champagne silk place mats with lace edges.  There were square pieces for the stem ware.   This group includes a tea-tray cloth.

Because grandmother gave large card parties with tables set up all over the downstairs, I found that she had a minimum of 20 luncheon napkins in each style to accommodate the tables when set for the meal that preceded the playing.  Long ago, a lovely lady who had helped at the house when Grandma was alive, took me through the downstairs and showed me where she had set up the tables and described a typical gathering.

Among my grandmother’s linens I found a crocheted lace piece that was a peculiar shape. Because it was heavy, I assumed it must have been worn by my grandmother’s Belgian mother as a kind of cap.  So I tried it on.  Oh, how lovely.

I was quickly disabused of my talent for identification of ancient pieces.  In looking over pictures of grandmother’s house, I found a picture of a chair wearing it.  Can you say “antimacassar”?


Grandmother’s Recipes – From The Family Canning Company

There was a canning company in my family until 1920.  After her father’s death, my Grandmother (paternal)  ran it with her uncle.  But when he died and she had married my grandfather, the time had come to sell it.

The Company had a rich history.  The Curtice Brothers, Simeon and Edwin, had a grocery store in Webster, NY near Lake Ontario.  It was a prime growing area for fruits and “garden truck.”  They made jams and jellies in their mother’s kitchen after  hours.  All of this led them to found a canning company in 1868.  The headquarters was located in Rochester, NY but their produce came, in the main, from the Genesee Valley south of Rochester.

Their fastidiousness about freshness and quality led them to locate canning plants in the fields where produce could be captured and processed at the peak of freshness.  They were pioneers in this approach.

Today, their advertisements, labels, jars and bottles are prime collectors items.  Anything I have has been purchased on the internet since most records of the company did not survive.

Here is a little booklet published in 1908 “Original Menus” that includes suggestions for the use of Curtice Brothers products along with original recipes.  Over time, I will reproduce some of the pages from this booklet.  It is a gem.