If your a frequent visitor to the museum, chances are you’ve seen your fair share of Victorian antiquities. Well, today, we’re taking a look some of those gems fomr the Victorian period to discuss … 10 things that the Victorians definitely did better than us modern day folk.

1. Spoons

I’m sure you’re probably wondering what’s so special about spoons, so I’ll let the Victorians show you with this set of serving spoons.

It goes without saying that these spoons are gorgeous, and they are undoubtedly far superior to the latest modern offering of silver spoons available today.

Sterling Silver Spoons
10 Things Victorians Did Better

2. Mourning Jewellery

You might be thinking: what is mourning jewellery? Mourning jewellery is a category of jewellery specifically for those in mourning of a loved one. Different variations of mourning jewellery have existed throughout time, but the Victorians truly mastered it. Societal rules for women in mourning in the Victorian era were very strict: they had to wear entirely black for a specified amount of time, and their social lives were restricted to what was considered appropriate for a woman in mourning. Below is an example of a set of Victorian era mourning jewellery.

Victorian Agate Jewellery Set

You might think mourning jewellery has died out, as the strict rules of the mourning process have, but you’d be mistaken. The modern day equivalent of mourning jewellery is the various rings and necklaces available that contain the compacted ashes of a loved one, such as this example below. Now, it’s not to say that these examples are not good or beautiful in their own way, but the mourning jewellery of today is nothing compared to the event-like display of Victorian mourning jewellery.

Diamond Ring

roger blake on flickr. Edits to dimensions only under the CC BY 2.0 License

3. Romantic Jewellery

Giving jewellery as a romantic gift is a theme consistent throughout time, but the Victorians really brought something inimitable to it. Victorian romantic jewellery was very generous with its gemstones, and frequently featured glistening pearls, and each piece has a uniqueness to it that makes them even more valuable today than they used to be.

Victorian Diamond Brooch
Aquamarine Pendant
Labradorite Brooch
Heart Shaped Pendant

Modern day standards for presenting a loved one with a fine piece of romantic jewellery do not quite live up to the grandeur of Victorian sentimentality. As you can see, contemporary displays of romantic jewellery are a little more modest than their antique counterparts.

Gold Ring
Things Victorians Did Better

4. Salt & Pepper Shakers

If you’re thinking that salt and pepper shakers aren’t exciting – guess again. The reason they may seem bland is likely because of the contemporary presentations of them. Here is the Victorian’s take on salt and pepper shakers:

Flourished to perfection, these Victorian salt and pepper shakers are in every way superior to modern day shakers – they even hold a considerably greater volume than your average salt and pepper shaker today.

Sterling Silver Condiment Casters
10 Things Victorians Did Better

Joe King on flickr. Edits to dimensions only under the CC BY 2.0 License

5. Mugs

Yes, mugs: a staple of British society. While there are definitely very exciting examples of mugs to be found on offer today, none of them have quite the same pizzazz as Victorian mugs.

Silver Christening Mug
Victorian Silver Mug
Sterling Silver Mug

The craftsmanship involved in each of these examples is exceptional. There’s definitely a stark contrast between these and the mugs found on the market today.

6. Biscuit Tins

It’s only correct that biscuit tins should follow mugs in this list. The Victorians definitely understood the importance of tea and biscuits, perhaps better than we do today. They brought a true sophistication to the art of biscuit tins.

Once again, present day fails to keep up with the past, and most homes across the country today feature biscuit tins like this one [if they feature one at all!].

Victorian Sterling Silver Biscuit Box
Things Victorians Did Better

7. Smoking Paraphernalia

Now obviously it is a good thing (health wise) that smoking is less popular now than it used to be, but it cannot be denied that a lot of the Victorian accessories related to smoking are pretty cool and gorgeous in their own right. Take a look at these [not to scale] smoking-related items.

[Left to right, in case these items are now so rare that you have trouble identifying them: a tobacco box, a smoking compendium complete with compartments for cigars, cigarettes, and matches, a silver and enamel cigarette case, and a carriage-themed table lighter].

Antique Tobacco Box
Silver Smoking Compendium
Silver Enamel Cigarette Case
Sterling Silver Table Lighter

Today’s smoking paraphernalia is nowhere near as exciting as the examples shown above. From left to right, they are: a matchbox, a cigarette packet, a lighter, and a vape pen].

Matches
Cigarettes
lighter
vape pen

8. Flowers

Okay, maybe not the flowers themselves, but the way flowers are displayed. Vases are the obvious choice, but here we’re talking about alternative methods of displaying your flora. Posy holders are what we’re looking at now. Just have a look at these gorgeous Victorian posy holders.

Victorian Posy Holder
Victorian Posey Holder

Flowers are not given the same luxury treatment these days. Even wedding bouquets are usually tied with a strip of fabric or wound up with ribbon.

Flowers
Victorian Flowers
Wedding Flowers

9. Coffee Pots

Coffee was very popular in the Victorian era and coffee pots were commonplace in Victorian homes as well as the rise in popularity of coffee houses. As we well know, nothing has changed today, and every morning up and down the nation people queue outside their favoured coffee house for their daily fix. The only thing that has really changed is the coffee pots themselves. Let’s have a look at the silver coffee pots of the Victorian era.

Victorian Coffee Pot
Silver Coffee Pot

These stunning pieces are truly just a couple of examples of the beauty of Victorian coffee pots. As you can see, there is – even within just these examples – a vast array of styles and techniques was involved in the crafting of a Victorian coffee pot.

Now let’s look at the modern-day equivalent.

Nothing wrong with this coffee pot per se, but it undoubtedly lacks the elegance and flair of its predecessors.

Coffee Machine

Austin Calhoon [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

10. Table Settings

Last but certainly not least, table settings. I realise that this may not sound like the most exciting topic, but just wait until you see the level of effort that Victorians went to in order to properly set their table. Let’s go through a few pieces.

Victorian Cruet Set
Similar to the salt and pepper shakers we looked at earlier, this cruet set is perfect for holding any condiments you see fit at the table, all crafted in silver.

Victorian Preserve Dish

This gilded beauty is a preserve dish, ready and waiting to be a vessel for whatever jam you please.

Victorian Tureen

This beauty is a soup tureen. You could definitely feed the whole family with a stew in this.

Silver Gilt Dishes

While these dishes could be used for whatever purpose you wish, they are technically bon bon dishes. Imagine having dishes exclusively for your bon bons. Amazing.

I really could go on and on, so here is a selection of more finery that you would be more than likely to find on a Victorian dinner table.

Pair of Victorian SIlver Baskets
Victorian Centrepieces
Victorian Jugs and Goblets
Sterling Silver Napkin Rings
Victorian Venison Dish
Victorian Silver Jugs
Victorian Sterling Silver Centrepiece

Now, time to assess the contemporary equivalent of a well-set Victorian dinner table.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with this table setting, in fact it looks especially nice, and it would be fair to wager that the average dinner table probably doesn’t look like this, at least not day to day. In any case, this table does not come close to comparing with those of the Victorian era, and that much cannot be denied.

Although it would be easy to look upon these beautiful items and wish for the Victorian era all over again, fret not; these pieces have – very frequently – been preserved and cared for exceptionally well, and many are available for sale around the world.

Table Place Setting

ProFlowers on flickr. Edits to dimensions only under the CC BY 2.0 License

Written by

Bethany Massey

Having graduated university with a BA in English Literature and an MA in Creative Writing Bethany then joined the AC Silver team as a content creator. Bethany spends her days writing content for the AC Silver blog and other luxury goods/antique publications.