Laura’s wedding silver
1885 William Rogers’ silverplate in the “Crown” pattern, given to Laura Ingalls Wilder as a wedding present by her husband, Almanzo Wilder.
In the Wm. Rogers’ knives, forks, and spoons, the assortment is complete. These goods are the most durable of any manufactured, and for years continue to wear and give as good satisfaction as solid silver, at a mere fraction of the cost of solid goods. – The Chicago Board of Trade, 1885
As I polished some silver today, I came across the sugar spoon and salt spoon and other pieces I have in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s pattern. This silverware isn’t mentioned in These Happy Golden Years, but is in The First Four Years; when Laura is describing the pantry in the house on the tree claim and the contents of the drawers, she wrote: “And one [drawer was] for Manly’s wedding present of silver knives and forks and spoons. Laura was so proud of them.”
Laura’s silver pattern (it’s not sterling, but silverplate) was William Rogers’ Crown, patented in 1885, the year Laura and Almanzo were married. You can find it today with different markings on the back – Rogers & Brothers, 1847 Rogers Brothers, Wm. Rogers Manufacturing Company, or Rogers Smith & Company. It sometimes has A1 on the back of each piece.
You can see pieces of Laura’s silver on display at the Laura Ingalls Wilder / Rose Wilder Lane Home and Museum in Mansfield, Missouri. The picture above is of a piece of Laura’s silverplate. Note that it was engraved with the initials: L.E.W. (for Laura Elizabeth Wilder), in fancy script.
I’ve heard that there were no knives made in this pattern, but I’ve seen both butter knives and serving knives in Crown, so I wonder if Almanzo maybe just didn’t purchase knives or the place-knife handles were hollow (they often are) and the knives simply didn’t survive the wear and tear of 100-plus years of use? I haven’t researched this, so I don’t know for sure.
I’ve collected a good number of pieces of Crown over the year, and I have friends who have whole collections which they enjoy using. I do have a really nice bracelet made from the handles of two Crown forks, which I love. Yes, I go through periods where I watch for it on ebay and think about collecting a few place settings. It’s not that I wouldn’t like to have some; it’s just that I already have silver flatware (Gorham’s Buttercup), a set of silverplate my grandmother bought shortly after I was born and was passed down to me (Holmes & Edwards’ May Queen, which has a nice Little House sound to it, don’t you think?), and I’ve lately been collecting the silverplate I remember using at my grandparents’ farm as a child (Wm Rogers & Son’s Mayfair). So I’ll leave the Crown collecting to others, and hope that if I ever visit one of you, you’ll get it out and use it. Dainty lunch, anyone?
Laura’s wedding silver (FFY “The First Year,” “A Year of Grace”)