Rings for the table

In my parent's home, we used rings to identify the family's napkins. (Paper napkins were an extravagance, only used for really messy or 'casual' dinners like burgers.) I had a bird, my brother a manly wood ring he made at camp, my sister a rabbit, my mother a green bakelite circle, and Dad's was silver with the four suits of playing cards on it.

When my mother died, fifteen years after Dad, I found both their rings in her apartment, nestled togeth
er with her linens.

When my sons were small, we also used napkin rings: animal clips for each boy, antique silver rings for us. Sometime in their teens, we stopped using them- maybe they found them juvenile. When I saw these pewter rings from Beehive Kitchen, I was reminded of their charm and utility. ($62 for a set of four.)

But it's lovely to use antique silver rings, many of which are monogrammed or engraved with a name. This art noveau beauty, from eBay seller artpottery is starting at $65.

The romantic Victorian piece at left, engraved "Mira", is from a Philadelphia estate; starting bid $39 from eBay seller turquoise.

My current favourite from eBay is this French deco hallmarked sterling piece, starting bid $150 from seller jakob-source.

An easy way to enjoy old silver: minimal polishing, lovely patina and a mysterious bit of history on the table.


Susan B said…
Napkin rings are such a nice touch, and I don't use mine (porcelain) often enough. My MIL has cute wooden ones carved and painted like fish and each one unique. She puts them out for even a casual family dinner.
Anonymous said…
We use our cloth napkins and napkin rings at every meal - but my two teenage boys don't usually take the rings off! You can take a boy to etiquette class, but you can't make him ...do anything! Patricia
materfamilias said…
We've always used cloth napkins as well and I did try rings at various points -- they never really "took" as a habit. These are lovely, though, and I like your comment that they bring silver onto the table without a huge need for upkeep -- they're practically self-polishing on those napkins, and hardly need washing.
Anonymous said…
Holidays in my household as a child were marked by bringing out the antique silver napkin rings--all different! We all had our favorites. I recreated the tradition in my own house, but with more modern silver plated ones that I found inexpensively. I hadn't thought about using napkin for every day, however. Certainly would cut down on the paper waste!
Anonymous said…
I sometimes have guests request a paper napkin and refuse an offered cloth one because they think it is too much trouble for me and they are thereby being more "humble". Unfortunately this request creates far more trouble for me as I can never remember where the paper ones are. Cloth is what we have always used. I prefer pure cotton but will settle for polycotton if necessary. I agree that rings are lovely and I am not tidy enough to keep them organized on a daily basis. If I can find them, I'll bring them out next time you come.
NancyDaQ said…
I use cotton napkins, but haven't used the rings. I use different prints, so most of the napkins are different from each other anyway. Cotton napkins are really no trouble, I just throw them in with the rest of the laundry and pitch them if they start looking too raggedy or stained. Most are made from remnants anyway.
We had napkin rings too - mine was red melamine.
Shay said…
I have six brothers and sisters, and we each had a different napkin ring growing up (yes...paper napkins are too expensive!). Usually Edwardian silver and monogrammed, that my mother picked up for a quarter or fifty cents at junk stores. They served a secondary purpose of telling you where you were sitting on a given night, since only my parents had pre-determined places at the dinner table. Whichever one of us had the chore of setting the table could handicap the dinner stakes by placing my brothers the farthest from the roast beef.
Duchesse said…
shay: A quarter! Fifty cents! Even given inflation that was a steal.
sallymandy said…
I love these! My grandparents always used napkin rings, sterling like the ones in your photographs. When I visited them I felt so important to have my own. I'm not sure where they ended up when my grandparents passed away, but maybe they'll come my way some day.

Cloth napkins are such a great way to add a little class to a meal.

It's funny that Patricia's boys don't take the rings off. !!

The posts with the most