The definition of ‘erotica’ has certainly changed over the course of time, at one time, the merest flash of a woman’s bare ankle was enough to send an Edwardian Gentleman into a lust induced fluster. Now, erotica is barely a term that is used due to the normalcy of exposed flesh and raunchily themed advertising selling anything from shampoo to sports cars.
During the cautious and prudish Edwardian and Victorian eras, it was considered to be solely a gentlemanly pursuit to smoke tobacco. Alongside the need for vesta cases- small metal boxes created to protect the user from the potentially combustible nature of early matches, which contained sulphur, making them extremely flammable- and the masculine nature of smoking, gave rise to the concept of ‘erotic’ vesta and cigarette cases
At AC Silver we are fortunate to have a fascinating and titillating collection of erotic silverware, featuring alluring maidens in various tasteful states of undress. These highly collectable pieces are sought after for their romantic impressions of a time gone by, when feminine nudity was a thing that was both hidden and coveted.
Most of these erotic items of silverware are by no means risqué by today’s standards, with some pieces from the nineteenth century only depicting fully clothed women showing their hosiery below the knee! They make wonderful gifts for anyone who appreciates fine antique silver and the craftsmanship which was involved in creating these detailed and delicate pieces.
The Arrival of Erotic Silverware
A sense of novelty and whimsy is never to be underestimated, and these are the reasons that we are still charmed by pieces like this today. It is understandable that in a time of such strict constraints on sexuality and dress codes, that these items were considered to be truly exciting.
There are some examples of erotic silverware which were made to celebrate the female form, as the subjects were exclusively female, however in England especially these items were made to be clandestine, and hidden from common view. It is easy to imagine a group of men, sharing vesta case or cigarette case, and admiring the enamel depiction as the case is passed around. Although not necessarily salacious, these pieces may have been more of a bawdy joke and assertion of masculinity, at a time when images of nudity were incredibly scarce.
Is Erotic Silverware Collectable?
Any item which depicts scenes of nudity from earlier than the twentieth century is held in high regard for its rarity, and what could be described as naivety or innocence of another time. Not only are these pieces of antique silver rare, but they are also an aide memoire which literally illustrates the cacophonous difference in a two relatively contemporary civilisations.
Silverware such as this is purchased to amuse and charm, and we hope that you are able to find a piece that delights you, although it was once intended to be a gentleman’s hidden secret!