According to the hilarious, tongue-in-cheek book, A Southern Bell Primer: Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa
Gamma, “some people are born with silver spoons – Southern
belles are born with silver patterns.” My family’s silver pattern is Grande Baroque by
Wallace, and my Grandmother began my collection when I turned 13. She
would always give me place settings and serving pieces for Christmas and
birthdays, and while I probably didn’t appreciate it as a young girl as much as
I should have, my collection of Grande Baroque is now one of my most cherished
A Southern Belle Primer goes on to say that we “Southerners are quite committed to silver patterns. We look at the silver selection as closely as some others may study the horoscope. When a girl picks Grande Baroque at age 11, she hasn’t just decided how to set her table, she’s charted her course for life.” Now I don’t know about all of that, but I do find “The Twelve Patterns of the Southern Silver Zodiac” quite amusing…
and Barton: The
Belle who chooses Francis I is a girl who wants it all. There are 28 pieces of
fruit just on the knife handle. It’s showy and opulent and so is she. A Francis
I girl is likely to want a husband, children, a place on the board of the
Junior League, and a full-time career. There is no end to what she can achieve,
just as there is no end to what she can buy in the Francis I pattern. It
comes with pickle forks, tomato forks, shrimp forks, lobster forks, grapefruit
spoons, dessert spoons, ice cream spoons, even half olive spoons. Francis I
girls are always compatible with mothers-in-law who have Grand Baroque or
Burgundy. Their styles are similar.
with roses instead of fruit. Grande Baroque girls also have a sense of the
dramatic. But they often also have a literary bent. That’s why you can buy a
sterling silver bookmark in the Grande Baroque pattern. Grande Baroque girls
often date boys whose families have the Acorn pattern. But they don’t marry
them. It’s just a youthful rebellion.
3. Burgundy, Reed
and Barton: This is Francis I without the
fruit. Burgundy girls tend to be somewhat shy. They have dreams of being
splashy, but they just can’t let go. Louisiana girls love Burgundy. It shows up
on a lot of tables during Mardi Gras. They do well with friends who have
Buttercup. They are not made to feel too competitive.
Old-fashioned girls pick this pattern. It’s very popular with girls named Rose.
Sentimental mothers who have chosen patterns like Old Master and Eloquence
sometimes name their daughters Rose just so they can have a legacy all their
5. Buttercup, Gorham: Belles who choose Buttercup
are always cheerful. They even choose the pattern because it’s so uplifting.
Buttercup girls have friends with every kind of pattern. They are usually
followers rather than leaders, but they are so upbeat it really doesn’t
6. Chantilly, Gorham: Belles with Chantilly tend to be a bit
prissy. They do best with men whose mothers also have Chantilly. Never
put a Chantilly girl with a man whose mother has Francis I or Grand Baroque.
They will always be upstaged. Don’t let all that sweetness fool you. Chantilly
girls were often fast in high school.
Gorham: Strasbourg girls
are traditionalists and just a bit formal. As good Southern girls, they are
entranced with anything that’s festive and use their good silver almost all the
time. Southern men love girls who pick Strasbourg because when Strasbourg girls
bring out the good silver, they also bring out the good food. They don’t mix
well with boys whose mothers have Buttercup. They will both always fight for
8. Acorn, Georg Jensen: Beware of the Acorn girl.
This pattern is lovely but foreign (it comes from Denmark). Girls who pick
Acorn are rebellious. They march in parades and sometimes have been known to go
to colleges in the East and drink beer straight from the can.
drift too far from tradition. Because of this they are fiercely attached to
their family heirlooms. One Texas Belle got 30 place settings of her groom’s
grandmother’s Old Master as a wedding gift. When she got a divorce, she took
her husband to court over the Old Master and let him keep the Cadillac without
10. Eloquence, Lunt: Eloquence girls like nice things. They expect their
husbands to provide. They are extremely loyal whether it’s a boyfriend, a best
friend, or a pet. Because of this they get along well with more flighty girls
who have Francis I or Grand Baroque.
These girls have been known to turn up their noses at Francis I girls. The
Chrysanthemums are just as flamboyant and just as demanding. They also
usually have a lot more money to spend. Their husbands have to be good
providers because they also insist on Tiffany crystal and Tiffany china. This
is a relatively new pattern compared to some of the others. Girls with
Chrysanthemum sometimes go really wild and live in avant-garde homes. But don’t
worry, they still cut the crusts off their tea sandwiches and their daughters
always get good recommendations to Kappa, Theta, and Pi Phi.
12. Repousse, Kirk: Repousse is one of the oldest silver
patterns. Repousse girls often have mothers and grandmothers who also have
Repousse. One Charleston woman explains every woman in her family for three
generations chose Repousse. Then her son married a woman who didn’t even have a
silver pattern. The mother-in-law insisted she pick something out and had
relatives fill in the place settings. When the new bride completely bypassed
Repousse by calling it “too fussy,” the mother-in-law knew the marriage
wouldn’t last. And it didn’t.
Do you have a silver pattern? If not, it is never too late to start your
collection! Which one is your favorite? And if you are from the South and
haven’t read this book, I highly recommend A Southern Bell Primer: Why Princess Margaret Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa
Gamma, written in 1990 by the late Marlyn Schwartz, former
columnist for The Dallas
Morning News. It is full of wise words on the importance of
charm, hair spray, the Junior League, sororities, thank you notes, finger
bowls, chicken salad, iced tea, deviled egg plates, and much more. An
updated version, A Southern Belle Primer: Why Paris Hilton Will Never Be a Kappa Kappa
Gamma, was released in 2006.