This page about the 1904 Vintage pattern, by 1847 Roger Bros., is adapted from an article which originally appeared in Antique Week.
Tally is ongoing for Vintage silver plate
The Vintage pattern of silver-plated flatware was introduced by International Silver Co. in 1904 and continuously produced until about 1918, with new pieces being added to the line from time to time. This pattern has remained very popular with collectors in the years since then.
The Vintage design features grapes (a popular design element since the ancient Greeks), while the great variety of pieces made gives collectors plenty to look for.. How many pieces were made in this pattern? The usual answer is “over 100,” but the actual number is very difficult to establish.
The early 1900s saw the introduction of a number of grape patterns in American silver plate. The four that collectors most frequently seek are: Vintage, introduced in 1904 by International Silver, 1847 Rogers Bros. mark; Moselle, 1906, American Silver Co., World Brand mark; La Vigne, 1908, Oneida, 1881 Rogers mark; and La Concorde, 1910, Oneida, Wm. A Rogers mark.
Among the grape patterns, Vintage is easily recognized by the overall shape of the handle -somewhat like a violin. (V is for violin and V is for Vintage, if you need an aid for your memory.) La Vigne and La Concorde, on the other hand, have handle shapes in which the end of the handle forms a gentle gothic arch. The grapes are clustered differently in those two patterns, but the overall handle shapes are very similar.
The Moselle pattern also has a violin shape, somewhat similar to Vintage. Moselle has one grape cluster at the end of the handle, while Vintage has two, one on either side. There are other differences in the overall look of the patterns. A reliable way to distinguish them is to examine the mark on the back of the piece. Moselle is marked with the World Brand mark, a globe resting on a knife, fork, an spoon, while Vintage is marked “1847 Rogers Bros.”
The 1847 Rogers Bros. Mark
International sold Vintage under its 1847 Rogers Bros. mark, the mark it used for its highest quality flatware. Organized a few years before, in 1898, International Silver was formed by the merger of many smaller Connecticut companies, including Meriden Britannia Co., Rogers & Bros., and Wm. Rogers Manufacturing Co. International was able to use the 1847 Rogers Bros. mark because this mark had been the property of Meriden Britannia.
The 1847 Rogers Bros. mark had been used by Meriden Britannia from the time of its formation in 1862. Meriden Britannia acquired the right to it from the original Rogers brothers, who started America’s first successful silver-plating operation in Hartford, Conn., in 1847. The 1847 Rogers Bros. mark was usually accompanied by a Meriden Britannia imprint within a tiny circle. This imprint continued to be used even after Meriden Britannia was absorbed by International Silver.
The Vintage pattern design, for which International received a design patent on Aug. 2, 1904, shows the complex look we have come to call “Victorian,” along with a realism of detail which was very much in the taste of the times. Grapes are clustered at three locations on the handle: two clusters at the end, one cluster in the center, and an additional cluster just above the bowl of the piece. The grape clusters include carefully modeled leaves and tendrils. Many serving pieces, as well as some of the place pieces, display additional clusters of grapes, leaves and tendrils in the bowls of spoons or on the blades of knives and servers.
100 pieces, more or less
Although I am not a Vintage collector, I am very interested in documenting old silver-plate patterns. Recently I decided to test the proposition that at least 100 different pieces were made in Vintage by documenting all the pieces made. At present, I can document 77 pieces, or 96 pieces or 110 pieces, depending on how the pieces are counted.
- Pieces can be counted according to function, that is, what they were used for. If the three variations of a dinner fork, for example, equal one piece, I can document 77 pieces.
- Pieces can be counted in accordance with variations in form, for example, a solid-handle dinner knife and a hollow-handle dinner knife are different pieces. If I include only those variations I have seen or can find illustrated in reference material, I can document 97 pieces.
- If I count the same way, but also include pieces other people may have seen, I can document 110 pieces.
I have developed a list of all the flatware pieces in Vintage for which I can find evidence by purpose. For simplicity, I have standardized names of the pieces. Names vary greatly in different sources. In fact, International did not always call the same piece by the same name. When the same piece form had two clearly different functions, however, it is listed for each function. For example, the 5 O’clock Teaspoon, the Youth Spoon and the Egg Spoon were separately illustrated in catalogs and clearly have different functions, but their forms appear to be identical. Additional remarks about the nature of flatware pieces follow below.
Some pieces — like knives — were made in both a solid-handle style and a hollow-handle style. When the handle is solid, the entire flatware piece is made from one piece of metal. When the handle is hollow, the piece is composed of a handle and an insert – the fork tines or the knife blade. Generally a hollow-handle piece is longer overall than a solid-handle piece.
Sometimes two pieces with the same shape, function and handle style have other variations in size or design. For example, bouillon spoons were made in two lengths, hollow-handle bread knives were offered in more than one blade style and salad forks display more than one tine design.
Collectors should also note that many serving pieces, like berry spoons and cold meat forks, were offered by International with an optional gold wash in the bowl. Such a gold wash protected the silver from the chemical effects of foods like vinegar and salt, as well as giving the piece a richer look.
Some mysteries remain. My best research tool has been a privately printed book, Collectors Handbook for Grape Nuts, by Suzie MacLachlan (1971). MacLachlan photographed every piece of Vintage she could find, reported the length of the pieces and showed catalog excerpts for some pieces she could not locate. When I have not been able to measure a piece myself, I have used her measurements.
MacLachlan also mentions additional pieces which other dealers and collectors told her they had seen. A few of these missing pieces turned up in Vintage catalog pages shown in The Elegance of Old Silverplate and Some Personalities by Edmund R Hogan (Schiffer Publishing,. 1980). Hogan also lists some pieces which he does not show. He says that ultimately International produced 101 different Vintage pieces, but does not explain how he counted them.
In addition, John Kingston of Syracuse, N.Y., a silver dealer and longtime Vintage collector has allowed me to examine, measure and photograph his collection. In years of collecting, he has never- seen some of the pieces illustrated in the MacLachlan book.