We have a blanket chest full of silver seafood and oyster service, melon service, cheese service and other junk that has a total melt weight in silver but we dont have the heart to sell it so it can be melted down. Much of it is really quite beautiful and delicate, but, as the world moves on, is entirely useless and merely ostentatious.
I hate to say that things, which are genuinely beautiful, and delicate, and even elegant, are either useless or ostentatious. Beauty of design adds something important to our visual world and our perceptions (it does to my world at least). It makes me notice and appreciate those objects which have artistic merit that sets them apart from the ordinary or mundane similar items, that generally go unnoticed, and serve a more purely utilitarian purpose. Interesting or beautiful things enhance my world, by pleasing my eye, and that includes ornately designed silver flatware or serving items. I love the gleam of really beautiful silver on a dining table--almost as much as I hate having to polish it. As long as it's in good taste, and just part of the background, I really don't see it as being ostentatious. I'm not using it as a display of wealth, I enjoy its visual appeal. The same way I like to get myself dolled up at times, because it makes me, and the occasion, feel more special, I sometimes like to doll up my dining table as well, for the same reasons.
I also love using items like the picture of the ornately embellished grape scissors that vonny posted. They add a touch of grace and elegance to the simple act of eating a bunch of grapes, something I could just as easily do with my hands alone, or regular kitchen shears. Using those special grape scissors isn't something I'd likely do every day, just in my own kitchen, but they are objects I would enjoy using even when relaxing with some friends in a casual get together, where we are sharing a bowl of fruit, simply because it adds a beautiful and lovely element to our surroundings.
Since the conversation has also turned to eggs, I have some beautiful china egg cups I also love to use on occasion when I want others to enjoy a special presentation of their soft-boiled eggs. And I really appreciate the fact that Wassau always serves my tea in varied antique porcelain cups, with marvelous designs and gilt ornamentation, and my cold beverages in crystal glasses and goblets, because I love how they feel in my hand and against my lips, beside the beauty of their appearance. There is enough of the ordinary all of the time, there have to be simple moments in our lives when we can be lifted out of the ordinary by something as simple as a teacup or a pair of ornate grape scissors.
Spendius also mentioned Prince Charles, and while I'm not familiar with the details of his interest in architecture, I think that Prince Charles and I might agree that the architecture which surrounds us, and comprises much of our external environment, in both urban and suburban areas, fails to add much in the way of visual appeal, let alone adding beauty or interest. Yesterday, in a news story about Amanda Knox, they showed the Italian courthouse where decisions about her case were made, and it was such a wonderful structure, replete with all sorts of sculptural detailing and elaborate ornamentation. How I would love to have that sort of building take the place of the plain, unadorned, nondescript boxes that serve as my local courthouses, simply because it would be so much more interesting to look at, and more of a treat for the eye.
I'm afraid I'm just rambling on and boring you all. Well, maybe I'm not boring ossobucco, because I know she's sensitive in her perceptions, and attuned to her visual environment, and the importance and impact of the way things appear. But I really do think we should aim to enhance our visual world with as much beauty, and wonderful design, as we possibly can, to heighten our awareness and enliven our senses. And, in that regard, I think Wassau has done a splendid job with this place. There are unexpected touches and intriguing objects everywhere--even the Ladies Room has exquisite hand-painted tiles and beautifully crafted mosaic panels and mirrors. Everything about this place is out of the ordinary, which is one reason I love it so much.