Sunday, February 14, 2016

Silver Roses

Weather: Very warm afternoon temperatures, ground getting friable on top, still hard below: snow still visible in the Jémez; last slight snow 2/3.

What’s still green: Juniper, other evergreens; leaves on yuccas, grape hyacinth, garlic, vinca, hollyhock, winecup mallow, pink evening primrose, snapdragon, anthemis, golden hairy asters, most low or buried; pampas, and cheat grasses.

What’s blue-green or gray: Leaves on Apache plumes, four-winged saltbushes, pinks.

What’s red or purple: Stems on roses, young peaches, sandbar willows; leaves on coral beard tongues, alfilerillo, purple asters.

What’s yellow or brown: Arborvitae, stems of weeping willows.

What’s blooming inside: Zonal geraniums.

Animal sightings: Rabbits, small birds.

Weekly update: I’ve been sorting through the flatware that’s collected at the back of a kitchen drawer. Some of it my mother bought in antique stores in Michigan, some I picked up at local supermarkets when I suddenly needed something at work. Nothing of value and nothing carrying any memories.

I did notice, though, how many of the handles were decorated with flowers, often roses. Only one was a natural representation of a modern flower. The rest were five petaled, sometimes with the stamens visible.

Charles Fox-Davies says this is how the rose was always shown in English heraldry. The representation was earlier than its use in the War of the Roses. The Tudors sometimes showed two rows of petals.

My mother’s silver with the King Cedric design shown at the top comes closest to the traditional design. The stamens or what Fox-Davis called the seeds are prominent. The selection of pattern name indicates the allusions were deliberate. Cerdic, the Saxon king of Wessex from 519 to 534, is thought to have created the kernal of the English kingdom. Wikipedia says his name was transformed to Cedric by Walter Scott in Ivanhoe. Joshua Mark has published an image of square headed bow decorated with four, not five, petaled flowers.

An older spoon owned by my mother has a simpler five-petaled flower in the center of a design, surrounded by two four-petaled ones. The difference may have been manufacturing technology. Both were sterling plate, but Oneida began manufacturing the design in 1933 in silver plate, while International Sterling, who produced the other, was organized in 1898.

When the production of cutlery moved to east Asia, the rose motif was maintained, but sometimes with local variations. A Japanese company used the conventional rose with a much simplified center for the end of the spoon.

But in the middle of the handle, the Stylecraft designers for T and N used an impressionistic full rose in a shield. The edges were marked by half flowers that look like they had four petals.

The Taiwanese apparently copied the Japanese when they produced flatware for the American market. The spoon I probably picked up in an emergency in a supermarket is the same kind of simplified heraldic rose, though their stainless stamping was thin enough to bend or break with pressure.

Ekco Products Company was one of the major producers of kitchen utensils in the 1950s, but since has been manufacturing flatware in China. Their design, Country Gardens, which I brought at a local supermarket, used the same kind of impressionistic design as the Japanese had for their shield flower. However, the stainless steel die was cruder, substituting background patterns and simple edges for precision.


Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles. A Complete Guide to Heraldry, 1909.

Mark, Joshua J. "Cerdic," Ancient History Encyclopedia, published online 30 December 2014.

Wikipedia. Entry on King Cerdic.

1. Oneida, King Cedric, manufactured in silver plate in 1933, and in sterling silver with hollow handles and stainless steel knife blades from 1949 to 1971. My mother bought this new in the late 1950s.

2. Betty Prior rose flower in my yard, 8 July 2015.

3. No markings, bought by my mother in Michigan.

4. Wm Rogers IS (International Sterling), no other markings, bought by my mother in Michigan.

5. T & N Stainless Steel of Japan, Stylecraft, with no other markings, end of handle, probably bought in a supermarket.

6. Same as #5, middle of handle.

7. Taiwan, stainless steel, no other markings, end of handle, bought in a supermarket.

8. Ekco Eterna, Country Gardens, stainless steel manufactured in China, bought in a supermarket.

9. Same as #7, middle of handle.

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