THE ANTIQUARIAN | Christening Gifts Fit for Royalty: Silver is a traditional gift for a newborn baby – and is also well known for its antimicrobial properties perfect for the making of eating utensils, thus the saying “born with a silver spoon in your mouth” reflects the perceived social standing of the child’s family.
The most exciting time in a family is the arrival of a baby. The hopes, dreams and future are all rolled up in that small seemingly fragile parcel that all new parents arrive home with. I vividly remember the birth of our son and how it absolutely floored me as to the magnificence of life. Honestly it also showed me how incredible my wife was in producing this little person so perfect in so many ways. It is this physical manifestation of our love that shows us our place in the cycle of life and since time immemorial has galvanised the family into looking into the future wellbeing of the child.
In the Christian faith the child’s baptism required godparents who would act as sponsors and guarantors for spiritual and social upbringing. This gave rise to the giving of christening gifts. These traditionally symbolise the gifts given by the three wise men, those of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the newborn Jesus. With time this has been adapted into giving something made from silver whose inherent value has always been recognised as a store of wealth. Silver is also well known for its antimicrobial properties perfect for the making of eating utensils. The saying “born with a silver spoon in your mouth” not only reflects the perceived social standing of the child’s family but also emphasised the uniqueness of silver in the choice of christening present. The variety of pieces given for christenings today includes goblets, cups, spoons and bowls. One of my personal favourites is the baby feeding set consisting of a pusher and spoon. The entertainment had by watching a toddler navigate small green peas onto the spoon with the pusher and then feeding themselves for the first time is priceless. Silver serviette rings are also popular as at any formal family gathering they bestow a sense of place within the family at the dining table and the come in all shapes and sizes.
This week sees the opening of the Antiques for Everyone fair at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham from 25 to 28 of July. This is one of the highlights in the art and antiques calendar and The Old Corkscrew based in South Africa will be exhibiting a collection of silver entitled ‘Christening Gifts Fit for Royalty’.