Lynn Goldfinger-Abram, the woman behind the marvelous online store the Paris Hotel Boutique, is legendary in my brain. I have admired and coveted her business concept and collections of hotel silver and other paraphernalia ever since I saw an article in Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion magazine back in 2003. Little did I know at that time, that 7 years later, I would have the privilege of calling her my friend. I realize that sounds kinda "name-droppy" and smug, but, it's really just through bewildered appreciation that our paths ever had the opportunity to cross. Her beautiful shop carries more than just hotel silver though, her well-edited collections of vintage jewelry, books and furniture are well-curated and trigger an unbecoming drooling problem in me. Lynn prides herself on finding items that can't be seen everywhere, "the unique find" is her specialty. In today's Thingy Thursday, I would like to introduce you to Lynn and her collections and celebrate her undying passion for the glitz and glamour of bygone eras.
So, without further delay, I'd like you to meet Lynn and read her answers to a few nosey questions I posed:
What was your first collection?
My first collection(s) began when I was a young girl; everything including stationary (we had limited to choose from back in the day), stickers, beads, food-shaped candles, blown glass animals, happy face pinback buttons (yes, this was the 1960's/'70's), and much more than I can remember!
The latter years I was living the single life and not much into collecting. Once I was in my 30's, I resumed my collecting. The first collection were some wacky 50's inspired lamps made by the Moss Lamp Company. Crazy figurines on lucite bases that moved, with funky lampshades. Then other
collections followed such as antique French crowns, Bakelite jewelry, lady portraits, mannequins and more. The one that "stuck" and still remains a fixture in my home is my hotel silver collection.
How did this collections come about?
I was perusing this fabulous shop in San Francisco and saw a vignette of hotel silver. I had never seen it before and was drawn to its fancy logos of grand hotels, fine craftsmanship & design, and the patina of these old pieces, once used by white-gloved waiters serving the hotel patrons.
I purchased my first piece that day. A large old handled serving dome with the name "Ernie's" engraved in script across the front. Ernie's was an old well-known restaurant in San Francisco.
What's the history or story of your collection? What's the draw - do emotions, design or function or something else make these items appealing?
There was no history or connection when I initially purchased my first piece of hotel silver, but it quickly followed. I found myself seeking out any hotel silver I could find. Pieces from the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco where several members of my family were married. Soon, many of my pieces of silver had memories of places that I had visited or knew the history of. And yes, the design makes these pieces so very appealing as well.
How many pieces of hotel silver do you own?
I have probably over 200 pieces of hotel silver in my collection.
Do you use, display or store them?
Fortunately we live in a 1930s home with a breakfast nook that has built-in open-face cabinets. I keep the silver mainly concentrated in this room. I do store some of it, as it needs frequent polishing, and when natural light hits the silver it tarnishes quickly. Not fun!
What is the most you've paid for a piece of hotel silver?
I don't really remember, but I'm guessing around $500-600.
What is the least you've paid for a piece of hotel silver?
I have paid as little as $20.
What is your favorite piece of hotel silver?
A large Victorian water pitcher from the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco. It's quite ornate and extremely rare.
Any tips for collecting hotel silver?
Mix and match – All of my silver is assorted. I buy pieces that I like, so most of the teapots, creamers and pitchers in my collection are strictly decorative, not for serving purposes.
Some collectors strictly want hotels that have personal meaning, others go for design alone, and some just want to use pieces for serving and want the hotel quality and grade. Go for what you like and what strikes a cord. Raised crests, cute shapes, monograms are always popular.
Look for manufacturers such as Reed and Barton, Gorham and International Silver Company. They produced most of the hotel silver in the USA.
Where do you find hotel silver?
Scour antique shops, flea markets, auctions and online.
What other collections are you building?
Hmmm...I am trying not to, as I have no more space and hate living in a cramped and crowded environment! But, I have a small collection of vintage oil paintings of San Francisco that I add to once and awhile.
Would you sell or pass on your collections?
Actually, I do sell selected pieces from my collection on my website. I found that it grew so much that I had to start selling some of it. It's difficult to part with, but I just can't have it all!
Photos courtesy, Lynn Goldfinger-Abram, Paris Hotel Boutique, Kate Sears, Home Companion, and Parisian Events
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