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Monday, July 25, 2011

What in the world is an epergne?

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... 

Or flowers..

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!!


Kathleen said...

They are beautiful! I don't have one, have never seen one in the shops here. So versatile. I must look for one!
Enjoy yours!

A Hint of Home said...

Wow, that is a beautiful piece. It can be used so many ways.
I'll have to keep an eye out for one of these treasures!

xinex said...

Oh so beautiful and graceful, Marlis. I have been lookin gfor one in the antiques shops here but have not found one yet. I would love to own at least one. You should have bought the 3rd one for me and just billed me, lol! I am surprised they were still there the next day. How expensive were they?....Christine

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

Oh I agree this is such a beautiful piece! This was an interesting post because I had not heard of these before!!

Yvonne @ StoneGable said...

Marlis, I have seen these beautiful pieces but really did not know what they were called or the interesting history of the epergne! How fastinating.
Your new purchases are really exquisite! I hope to see them on many creative tables you set!

Swede said...

Wow! You did good. Worth the wait in the 100 degee temp. I've done the same thing you did -- went back to an estate sale to get something else. These are really wonderful. I'm thrilled for you.

Entertaining Women said...

Fantastic! This will be used in so many variations. I can hardly wait to see what you do. I have a small silver one, but I've been watching for them forever. Great get!
Cherry Kay

Entertaining Women said...

Love the layered cloths...I am a huge fan of hemstitched linens..crisp and elegant...work with a large variety of moods. The choice of the taupe as the under cloth was a touch of design genius. The epergne is the star...just gorgeous. I too like to set an elegant table al fresco. Thank you for sharing your beautiful eye for design. Cherry Kay

Tanya@takesix said...

I don't remember ever seeing an epergne before. You can have such variety in your table centerpieces with them. They are beautiful!

Alycia Nichols said...

Spectacular, Marlis!!! I, too, have taken a shine to triple layering of linens. It just gives it a look that is like no other. Everything on this table is fabulous!!! Really, really love the epergne, too! They always offer up so many great creative opportunities. Just beautiful!

A Perfect Setting said...

Marlis, I love the epergne!! I did a post about them as well, mine is silver. I love the crystal, what a great find. I'm always on the look-out for them! Your table is beautiful!

Lizabeth said...

That is such a beautiful piece! I can imagine how proud you are to own it!

AD said...

These are amazing pieces! I'm glad you went back and bought the second piece; it gives you such flexibility. Have fun with it!

Nancy said...

I've always wanted an epergne. What a fortunate find for you. It's beautiful. I was looking at the post above and saw this post and got sidetracked. lol


Kuby said...

These are spectacular! I know you will further compliment these pieces with your creativity and wisdom.


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