Start Collections That Make Giving a Breeze

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One of the best things I ever did for myself was starting to collect sterling silver flatware. I remember the day I decided to take the plunge. In fact, it’s still documented on Instagram. I was visiting one of my favorite stores in Mobile, Alabama, Louise Dogget Antiques, where sterling flatware sparkles and sprawls in every possible direction. When Ms. Dogget herself asked me what my pattern was, I was dumbstruck. I didn’t have one. . .yet. As soon as I was back home, I made an appointment at the Beverly Bremer Silver Shop, a premier sterling store that’s well known beyond Atlanta’s city limits. 

I’ve learned a lot about the ins and outs of silver makers and patterns. My friend Joan collects the streamlined yet brocaded Candlelight by Towle, reminiscent of its mid-century release. My mother-in-law has Chantilly by Gorham, the company’s flagship pattern that dates back to 1895. My grandmother collected Old Maryland Engraved, which features delicate swirls of flowers with a reserved spot for a monogram. My pattern is Buttercup by Gorham, which was introduced in 1899 and showcases carved clumps of buttercup flowers. It took my breath away the moment Mr. Trenton Tunnell III, one of Beverly Bremer’s attentive associates, opened the box and showed me. It still makes my heart leap to this day. 

Since then, I have made it my mission to collect various pieces of flatware. My mother-in-law and mother both know my pattern and often give me additional pieces. My friends even gave me small pieces for my birthday this year. I scour antique stores, flea markets, and boutiques looking for my pattern or other interesting pieces to add to my collection. I never miss a locked case at an antique store (that’s where the best treasures are). My most recent acquisition is a sterling-handled Buttercup punch ladle I found at Railroad Station Antiques in Huntsville, Alabama. Before that, it was a series of salt spoons I snagged from Valley Vintage, an online retailer. Before those, I found a casserole spoon at an estate sale. Needless to say, my eyes are always peeled. The results are gifts from others and from myself that I cherish and use daily. 

While sterling silver flatware may not be your cup of tea, starting a collection for yourself is a great way to show friends and family members what kind of gifts you want. Plus, it’s just plain fun. If you’re thinking about starting your own collection, here’s how to get started.

1Think About What You Love

I am a collector by nature. Besides my sterling collection, I also collect art, cobalt blue Wedgwood Jasperware, mid-century barware, fox stirrup cups, and oyster plates. What do you love? Is it matchbooks from your favorite restaurants? Books by a particular author or of a particular title? Pottery from your travels? Think about what you love and how to translate that into a collection. 

2Get Comfortable Slowing Down

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your collection. I remember when I owned just one piece of Buttercup silver; a cake knife gifted by my husband’s grandmother for our wedding. That was followed by a lemon fork and a nut spoon from my best friend’s mom. I received one place setting for my wedding, and it took a full year to get another. A collection takes time. 

3Expect the Unexpected

You never know when you’re going to stumble upon a piece. If you happen to come across a white whale in the wild, it’s better to buy now than have FOMO later. Take, for example, my sterling-handled punch ladle. Did I need that piece? Definitely not. Will I always remember my solo overnight trip to Huntsville because of it? You bet. 

4Spread the News

Tell your friends and loved ones that you’re working on building a collection. They’ll want to give meaningful gifts, and adding to your collection is one of those things!

One more thing: Consider starting a collection for someone. When my husband and I got married, we started a pottery collection for each of our mothers. We don’t give a piece every year, but we do try to add to it from time to time. I started a collection of high-quality wine glasses for my sister. As my niece grows up, I hope to start a fine art collection for her. 

My hope is that my collection, and those I start for others, will live well beyond me. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy every moment of the process. 

Tags: Family, Friends, gifts, Self Care

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Written By

Nicole Letts

Nicole is an Atlanta-based journalist with work appearing in AAA, BBC Travel, Good Grit, Modern Luxury, Southern Living, and more. See Full Bio

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