Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The 12 Patterns of the Southern Silver Zodiac

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 possessions.

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...

1. Francis I, Reed 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.

2. Grande Baroque, Wallace International:  This is Francis I 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.

4. Rose Point, Wallace International:   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 own.

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 matter. 

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.

7.  Strasbourg, 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 control.

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.

9. Old Master, Towle:   Old Master girls have spirit but don’t 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 a whimper.

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.

11. Chrysanthemum, Tiffany:  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.


  1. Andrea, What a fabulous post, I just had this conversation with my 20 year old daughter yesterday how the days of girls getting married and registering for silver and crystal have fallen by the wayside, it is so sad. She asked a friend if she ever thought of what pattern of china she might like and the girl didn't have an idea of what she was talking about. I think some of these traditions will fall by the wayside with younger generations as the days of formality for many just don't exist.

  2. These are hysterical - how have I never seen this? This book sounds like a must for this Southern girl - heard about it, but never read. Confessions of a Francis I pattern here, and loved reading them all since I have 3 sisters and know their patterns too!!

  3. We are Francis I girls. Precious post!

  4. This looks like a very fun read! I'm pretty sure the silver plate I got from my mother was Old Master, but I'm not sure what the pattern is of the sterling I bought at an Antique Faire. Must run down to check!! xo

  5. This was one of the funniest things I've read. So cute that I have to share with my friends on FB. Fun,fun,fun....

  6. I loved this. I don't think it is too far from the truth in some areas. I am definitely an Acorn. My actual silver is gold. I picked Gold Cahe by Yamazaki.

  7. I wish I did this is very interesting and grandma sure loves you for giving you some of these beauties Andrea!

  8. I love it! It's so interesting peeking into others traditions. I bet it's more truth than a joke but very fun to read!

  9. what a hoot! i love this post! Who knew your silver pattern said so much about you! (My whole family has Grande Baroque!) xx

  10. Love this post! I got married I the seventies and chose Medici by Gorham. It is so much like Grande Baroque that on silver websites beside the Medici it will say "you may also a like Grande Baroque". I would say that I did have a flair for the dramatic at least back then, and also a literary bent, as I later became a copy writer for radio and televison!

  11. The best patterns are the old ones. R & B's "Love Disarmed" is more ornate than "Francis I." Also, Alvin's "Old Orange Blossom" or Wallace's "Irian." For less ornate taste, there is Gorham's "Lansdowne" or Tiffany's "San Lorenzo." All at one's fingertips on ebay

    My pattern is International's "Wedgwood." What does that tell you about me?

  12. I loved the book "A Southern Belle Primer." My mother, sister, and I read it, and we all exclaimed over the number of deviled egg plates and iced tea pitchers our mother owned. Mother's pattern was Charlemagne by Towle and it is a bane to this day that the pattern was discontinued in 1996. Don't even get her started!

  13. My pattern is Grande Baroque. I love roses and I am a book lover. My mother has Gorham Greenbrier and my mother-in-law has Wallace Sir Christopher. I have read the Southern Belle Primer and think it is hilarious.

  14. I love this. I am finally getting around to selecting my silverware and this post made me smile! Great job!

  15. I have this book from years and years ago, and as I recall, in the original version, they mixed up Chantilly with another pattern in the photo. Oopsie! Maybe the graphic designer was, dare I say it, a Yankee? ;-)

    My mother, my grandmother, and I all had/have Chantilly with pieces from other patterns thrown in for good measure, including Fiddle Thread which all really old families have pieces of in their silver chests. I am ashamed to tell you how many Chantilly place settings I am currently hoarding. ;-) Let's just put it this way, I can serve a LARGE army for lunch or dinner.

    My mother in law had Francis 1st which I inherited several place settings of and adore. Don't tell my mother, but I would trade ALL the Chantilly on earth for Francis. Traitor to the cause that I am.

  16. I have the original version of the book--I'll have to reread it now that my daughter is old enough to pledge a sorority! I went to a woman's college and we didn't have sororities, so I have no useful motherly wisdom to impart.

    I have my mother's Reed and Barton Pointed Antique. It's very simple and down to earth, which she always was and still is!


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