Introduced in 1903, Bridal Rose by Alvin Silver is an exquisite Art Nouveau pattern that features a rose in full-bloom at its tip with crisp, detailed leaves and stems running the length of the handle. With its elegant, detailed ornamentation, Bridal Rose quickly became one of the most popular turn-of-the-century patterns after its introduction. During its prime, the Bridal Rose pattern featured more than 180 different piece types, including our museum feature this month: the Bridal Rose jelly/cake server.
The last quarter of the nineteenth century is commonly regarded as America’s “Gilded Age,” a term coined by American writers Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner. This economic boom following the Civil War saw the creation of the modern industrial economy, and with it, an increased income for many in America. This new class of wealthy Americans wanted to display their prosperity in the most conspicuous manner possible, and manufacturers of luxury goods were more than happy to meet the increased demand for high-end items, including tea services, art, jewelry, and tableware. Among the many ways to showcase affluence during the Gilded Age was with an opulent array of tableware comprising hundreds of flatware and serving pieces. Specialized flatware pieces produced during this time include cracker spoons, toast serving forks, aspic servers, and many others. Jelly/cake servers look like cake or pie servers, and like a cake or pie server, they are used to cut a piece of cake, lift, and serve it. This piece can also be used for solid jellies that have the consistency of cranberry sauce. The pierced Bridal Rose jelly/cake server is particularly splendid, and features an ornate rose and stem motif that complements the already gorgeous Bridal Rose handle design. It’s easy to see why Bridal Rose was such a coveted pattern, and why pieces and sets of Bridal Rose were popular wedding gifts.
Presenting gifts to newlywed couples is an ancient tradition, practiced to this day around the world. For young couples about to set up housekeeping and start a family, the list of household needs is typically a long one, and includes items from home appliances to silverware. Silver manufacturers recognized this need in the early twentieth century, and began to market their lines accordingly. One Alvin Silver advertisement from 1908 states, “When wedding presents are thought of, silver is the most popular gift. The two most appropriate patterns of Sterling Silver flat ware for wedding gifts are the ‘Bridal Rose’ and the ‘Orange Blossom.’ It is only a matter of choice. Either pattern is appropriate, and therefore in good taste. Both are handsome. These patterns are made in the full line, fancy pieces and cutlery – over one hundred different articles, sure of being able to suit all requirements.” Another Alvin Silver advertisement from 1916 says, “In the best American homes the service of Alvin Silver begins on the wedding day.”
Alvin Silver was founded in 1886 in New Jersey. Innovative from the start, one of Alvin Silver’s first successes was developing a process for depositing pure silver on metallic and non-metallic items like umbrella and cane handles, cocktail sets, and other items, which they dubbed “Deposit Ware.” Another cutting-edge product line included glass items with silver inlays, a design technique subsequently referred to as “Alvin Ornamentation.” The company’s innovative products were so popular that Alvin had to expand within two years of its formation. In 1908, Alvin bought Simons Brothers and Peter Krider Company silver dies and molds, and also began making electroplated flatware. Alvin’s Victory pattern, introduced in 1919, was designed by James Earle Fraser, a sculptor famous for his “End of the Trail” sculpture and for designing the Indian Head (or “Buffalo”) nickel. In 1928, Alvin was bought by Gorham Silver, but retained the Alvin Silver name. Alvin continued operating as a subsidiary of Gorham until Gorham stopped production of Alvin patterns around 1985. Today, Alvin Silver is best remembered for its Raphael, Bridal Rose, Viking, Orange Blossom, and Fleur de Lis patterns, and Alvin silver products continue to be highly desired by collectors.
While the Alvin Bridal Rose jelly/cake server in our museum is not for sale, we do have a variety of Bridal Rose and other Alvin pieces available for purchase in our inventory; be sure to browse our web site. And remember that we always invite you to visit our facilities – here you’ll see a stunning variety of silver, china, crystal, and collectibles. Our 500,000-square-foot facilities hold more than 12 million individual pieces in more than 425,000 patterns. Our retail store and museum are open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm ET, 7 days (except holidays); free tours are available from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm ET, 7 days. The retail store and museum are conveniently located between Greensboro and Burlington, NC, at exit 132 off Interstate 85/40. We look forward to seeing you.