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History of the Christening Gift

Christening gifts have been given for centuries as part of the Christian ceremony to welcome a young child into Christianity and protect their soul from damnation should they not survive to adulthood. Today, it is more of a celebration of faith and the birth of a child, expanding the circle of believers. Gifts are not only given by parents to commemorate the ceremony, but also other members of the family, often including godparents; deemed the guardians of the child’s soul.


Silver is the material most traditionally used to create christening gifts; the metal was historically though to be beneficial for health due to its purity, and the intention was for the child to have a piece of valuable silver that they could sell as an adult should they fall on hard times. Furthermore, silver was associated with wealth and prosperity due to its value and appearance, and so the suggestion that the gift was intended to be sold is typically more of a last resort than an expectation. Silver christening gifts therefore signify the gift giver's desire for health and success for the child.


Usually, silver christening gifts are engraved with the initials of the recipient of the gift. The rarer, plain christening gifts are harder to come by but are valued at a higher price than their monogrammed counterparts.


Types of Christening Gifts


There are many types of christening gifts which have become traditional choices over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Antique silver spoons have become one of the most frequently given gifts, with the spoon being symbolic not only of the baby's health and growth through infancy, but also their growth throughout life.


In the second half of the Victorian period, christening sets became more elaborate. Napkin rings, egg cups, mugs, bowls, and more became involved. Silver christening mugs, the most popular of choices, have been gifted since the late 18th century. They symbolise nourishment which will help the baby grow to be healthy and strong. Silver christening mugs in particular are frequently engraved with initials of the child, a monogram or even a family crest, sometimes including the date of a child's birth or christening ceremony.


Silver napkin rings are also a popular choice of christening gift. Sets of napkin rings are often given to parents as the new child enters the family, to signify another place being set at the family dinner table.


In recent years silver frames have also become a popular choice. A portrait picture of the baby to be christened in a fine quality antique silver frame is a memorable way of showcasing this most important of religious family events.


Traditional Christening Gifts


The tradition of giving silver christening gifts finds its roots with the Tudors, and it is where the expression ‘born with a silver spoon in their mouth’ originates. Victorians expanded on the practise, taking christening gifts from mostly being spoons to becoming entire breakfast sets. Over time, this has expanded further to encompass more areas of life than food, with rattles, photograph frames, and piggy banks all being made from silver as christening gifts.


Here are a few of our own traditional silver christening gifts for you to enjoy.


Christenings

This sterling silver christening bowl and spoon set by Asprey & Co Ltd is dated to 1938.


This type of bowl and spoon set can be considered to be the more modern interpretation of the traditional porringer that children were often gifted through the Georgian and Victorian eras. An engraved scene of Little Miss Muffet appears in the basin of the bowl, further representing its perfection as a gift for young children.


Fitted to its original hinged leatherette box with a satin and velvet lined interior and bearing the retailer’s mark and original London address, this christening set couldn’t get much more lavish. Bearing the legendary children's nursery rhyme character in addition to notable imagery from the same tale, this bowl and spoon set is a very traditional silver christening gift that will be timeless for decades to come.


This combination whistle and rattle is Victorian, being crafted in 1884 from sterling silver.


This large and bulbous christening gift is exceptionally stimulating for a baby to play with, whilst also serving as stunning décor should the idea of giving a child such a valuable item make one wince.


The rattle is fit with functional bells intermittently placed around the widest part of the body, with a whistle to its tip which is also functional. The rounded loop handle to the end of the rattle makes it easy for a baby to hold as well as being easy to store or hang as quaint decoration in a nursery.


Locating large examples of this kind in such exceptional condition is becoming increasingly difficult. Rattles have been a common christening gift since the Victorian era, with children’s toys beginning to develop and become similar to toys we might recognise today.


Silver Gifts
The History of Christening Gifts

Arts and Crafts style silverware can be found in this petite photograph frame by James Deakin & Sons. Utilising sterling silver and a unique iridescent enamel, this frame has elements of blue-green colouring in a distinctive pattern highly indicative of both the Arts and Crafts style and the Art Nouveau style.


The small round window allows for a picture of the baby being christened, or possibly a picture of the whole family, or the baby and the gift giver, whether they’re a grandparent or a godparent.


This Edwardian silver picture frame takes on a subtly convex border, adding an element of timeless design that will make this a treasured gift for many years after the christening ceremony has concluded.


The final item showcased here is this sterling silver napkin ring in the form of a duck. During the Victorian period, certain animals often became associated with children, whether due to their perceived innocence or simply how aesthetically pleasing they are is hard to distinguish.


Ducks, lambs, and other animals commonly seen in the spring were popular design choices, and this connection between young children and animals has only strengthened over time.


This antique 1913 George V napkin ring is a perfect example of this bond shared between children and animals. Suggestive of the new mouth to feed at the table, this napkin ring would be saved for special occasions where formal dinners were being held, being reserved for the child who received it and likely used throughout much of their life. Today, this is a stunning ornament that any child could love.


While there are endless options for christening gifts today, gifting silver is still the most common and traditional gift. At AC Silver, we are proud to boast a varied and unique selection of silver christening gifts.


Silver Christening Gifts
View our collection of
Christening Gifts
 
Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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