Epergne - An epergne generally has a large central "bowl" or basket sitting on three to five feet. From this center "bowl" radiate branches supporting small baskets, dishes, or candleholders. There may be between two and seven branches. Epergnes were traditionally made from silver, however from around the start of the 20th century glass was also employed.
From the Silver Lining (click the name to read more): "By the eighteenth century entertaining had developed into a grand art, and the English epergne can claim a strong link to seventeenth century France and the great changes in manners which began with the French Court. This revolution greatly affected the silversmith’s output, and led to many of the articles common to the twenty-first century table. For example, foods that had previously been eaten from a common bowl with either fingers or bread came to be eaten with spoons and forks from individual plates, and by the late 1600’s there existed different plates for different foods. Further, individual chairs replaced benches at the table. Before the close of the century silversmiths found themselves making large matching services for their aristocratic patrons. A new emphasis on decorating the table led to the development of the centerpiece."
About a month ago, I decided to venture out in the heat and scope out a Sunday estate sale. Arriving early, I stood in line outside the house in 100+ temps. Many glass and crystal objets were advertised. You know that objets are much more expensive that simple everyday objects - right? I was very surprised when I walked in and saw three Cambridge glass epergnes awaiting a new home.
I purchased this one that day. And then dreamt about another one. Why, because these wonders are all in pieces and I knew that two could mingle and I would have so many more opportunities to use them.
From National Cambridge Collectors: "The Cambridge Glass Co. used the term epergne to describe a combination consisting of any candlestick to which a detachable arm that held vases had been added. The arm consisted of a vase holding ring at either end and in the center either a candle pocket or a decorative knob, depending upon the arm model, and was produced in three sizes. The vases used with these arms lacked a foot and thus, could not stand by themselves. The vases were made in two styles, with and without a small knob at the bottom."
I did go back the next day to pick up epergne number 2. I should have bought #3 too. Hindsight!
This combination is the first epergne I purchased. Two vase arms, one base, one center vase, 4 drop vases and one center vase.
This is the second epergne. It has the base, a 3 arm insert, 3 bowls, one short center vase and one longer center vase. Did you notice the bases are the same?
The previous photo had the larger center vase and this one shows the smaller center vase, which is identical to the vase used in the first combo that came home with me.
I think you can see the pieces more clearly here.
First base with one arm and two vases. Don'tcha just love the little tulip candle holder in the center?
And with the second base... I can divide up the arms and have two darling pieces on the table!
Or, be inserting the smaller vases, I could have two floral arrangements on a buffet table or dining table.
Or I could use a center bowl in each...
Or I have two depression glass candleholders..
The three arm insert also holds candles if you don't use the bowls.. could put one bowl in the center...
I think I'll be on the lookout for a few more pieces. I think this is one of the most versatile pieces I have. What do you think about it? Still dreaming of a gleaming one in silver, but I'm so happy with this, I don't care if it ever happens!!