Like most girls of my generation, I had several wedding showers and felt very lucky to receive a really nice set of stainless steel flatware. Thirty-five years later, I still have that set and I’ve added to it over the years, preferring to use flatware instead of plastic when we’ve had parties and get togethers. And I’ve always loved what I received, especially when unloading the dishwasher and putting away gifts from over the years.
Over the last few years at the store, we’ve sold a lot of silver plate flatware. As I ring up these pieces, I love the way they feel in my hand. I love looking at the different sizes of the tines, the different shapes of the spoons. So this last year, I told my husband Tray, let’s switch out our utensils—you’re always finding good pieces and I don’t care if they’re all the same pattern. What I like is the weight, the different patterns and different sizes. And while Tray loves the thrill of the hunt, he’s magical when he’s hunting with a list.
It took a few months, but we have gathered a mixed-matched drawer of silver plate and I love it. Just last week, I was eating my breakfast and got so happy—there’s nothing like a silver-plate delivery to make a kale smoothie taste great. Then, a couple of nights later, I made a big pot of bean soup, which Tray loves but I’m never too excited about. I like soup okay but it’s not my favorite. Maybe that’s because, when I was a girl, soup night was when there wasn’t much in the pantry and Mama had to throw together whatever there was into a pot to squeeze out something for all of us to eat. Often, that soup had to last a couple of days and we all knew it without saying anything. But eating it with a silver spoon, the bean soup tasted so good. I marveled at how perfectly sized the bowl of the spoon was for the size of the beans and my mouth. I thought about how Tray likes a big spoon and I like a medium-sized, deeper bowl, and by mixing and matching, we both used what was perfect for our individual tastes. I was already looking forward to leftovers while enjoying each bite. Tray laughed at me when I said this is the best soup ever—I think it’s my new antique, silver-plate spoon. Of course, he quipped, we should get some more.
That’s the thing about being married to a collector. He’s always ready for a new love. We have been talking about teacups. They don’t sell that well and we started to talk about why. Tray’s thought was, well, people don’t know what to do with them. Not many people drink tea out of good cups anymore. And he’s right. So, at dinner, we started riffing on all the ways great teacups could be used. We had so much fun that we’re already using them in innovative ways and he is, once again, hunting with a purpose.
We’re now serving our desert in a teacup. From ice cream and a brownie to pudding and jello-based deserts, teacups make great serving pieces. They’re the perfect serving size and, with the saucer, there’s a built-in, easy-to-hold tray and place to rest the spoon between bites.
I’m also using them in rows for holding office supplies—from paperclips to pushpins, demitasse cups make beautiful, cheerful holders. I discovered they are great on my vanity, holding hairclips and ponytail holders and other odds and ends—they help me keep everything organized and neat in a place where it’s easy to get messy. I’m always setting my rings down when I cook and I thought I could use a teacup by the side of the stove. What’s great is that I had my rings in the cup and then I needed to set down a fork I was using to turn some meat over and I realized, oh, this doubles as a place to rest the tines of the fork. Genius.
One of the unexpected joys of using teacups in innovative and utilitarian ways is that it’s easy to change the look and feel of a room. Make a yellow room pop with different colors—from the graphics of two-tone patterns like Spode. Have a room with a lot of solids or stripes, integrate a motif of birds, flowers or an Asian design to brighten and provide contrast.
We’ve had so much fun figuring out innovative ways to use teacups and using them brings joy to mundane tasks and organization. And, just as eating bean soup out of a silver spoon changes everything, so does reaching for a paperclip out of a Royal Copenhagen Flora Danica work of art on my desk. I’m sure after we launch a revival of teacups, we’ll find something else to create with and repurpose. Part of the luxury of our lives is creating together—finding hidden gems, turning them over in our hands and wondering what else is possible.
Simone Gers began her antiquing journey 35 years ago when she married Tray, an avid collector. They still have the first piece they bought together—a pegged farm table that was so decrepit it was behind the antique store—and they have been upcycling vintage finds ever since. The Gers own Gather A Vintage Market in Tucson, AZ, a monthly market. Simone has taught writing and literature at the college level for many years.