Until now stored in the attic or reserved for special occasions, our grandmothers’ dishes have benefited from the craze for tableware since the first confinement of 2020. Democratized by the wave of vintage, earthenware services and cutlery silver is now even on our daily placemats, from breakfast to dinner.
The Christofle teams first observed the phenomenon from afar, before developing The Vintage Collection, made up of carefully restored old pieces, an initiative that allows the goldsmith house to reaffirm its commitment to sustainability and circularity, while revisiting its history. By putting back on sale and highlighting old collections that have never been reissued before, the company, created in 1830 in Paris, sticks to the motto of its founder, Charles Christofle: “A single quality, the best”.
Cutlery but also christening cups, candelabra, napkin rings or egg cups in silver, made between 1915 and 1940, are among the hundreds of treasures found: “We have selected important models that trace our history through different styles (Art Deco , Art Nouveau, Louis XVI style, etc.), but also collaborations with renowned designers, such as Luc Lanel, explains Caroline Radenac, heritage and heritage manager for the Christofle house. We also let some pieces surprise us, for example these champagne buckets from the 1980s…”
With the help of the Heritage Department and the Director of Collections, a project manager took on the task of unearthing them from the faithful of the house, in auction rooms and in antique shops. With one imperative: to select pieces that are up to date and correspond to contemporary uses that no longer appear in the current catalog. “We wanted to find models that make us proud and that customers buy not just a fork but a story: for example, that of a fork that was on board the Normandie in the 1920s or on the tables of the Bristol in 1930”, continues Caroline Radenac.
The challenge is also to address a younger clientele. “With prices 30% to 50% lower than our regular collections, this vintage selection embodies more accessible luxury. And it easily encourages the mixing of genres, the mix of old and more modern styles, which is very popular today…”
In addition to the very rigorous selection and verification of the authenticity of the pieces as well as their hallmarks, it was necessary to rework the food safety of the cutlery so that it corresponds to current standards. Proper cleaning in the workshop also brought back the luster of the silver without removing the delicate patina of time. Housewives have been patiently reconstituted and the history of each object traced, to make it appear on the Christofle site.
A sometimes difficult investigative work, when you know that the goldsmith company has hundreds of catalogs of references. This meticulous operation also sounds like a response to junk dealers who collect lots of silverware from family homes, sometimes to sell them by the kilo, devaluing at the same time these historical pieces. And, beyond the durability of objects, it is also the idea of transmission that is favored. The best way for Christofle to engrave a new chapter in its history.