Friday, May 30, 2014

Tea-themed Napkin Rings and History

I love using napkin rings, and have many kinds.  I don't remember seeing any napkin ring collections shared on blogs, so I decided to share my tea themed sets. If you use them I'd love to know about your collection.

There are eight porcelain blue and white teapot rings in this set.

And eight brass teapot rings.

Below are Pfaltzgraff Stoneware Cloverhill Teapot Napkin Rings.  I was gifted with four, and recently got eight more on E-bay.

The following napkin rings are sets of four, and were all given to me as gifts.  I'm looking for more of the silver teapot rings pictured directly below.  If anyone knows of an online source please let me know.  These were clearanced at a Mikasa outlet, and are no longer on their website.

The place card holders go nicely with the rings above.

The rings below are pewter-like.

These are the only porcelain teacup napkin rings in my collection.

Now for their history:  They're actually a throw-back to the good old days when families ate their meals together, and used cloth napkins at ever meal and at tea time. Because there usually weren't enough cloth napkins between wash days [due to larger family sizes, and no automatic washing machines] there weren't enough freshly laundered napkins for all the meals, so the napkin ring became a sanitary device to save each person's napkin for several usings.  Are you thinking ew?  ;-) 

Napkin rings were highly favored by by Victorians who adored the "table fancies" for keeping their napkins separated.  Each family member had his or her own special napkin ring to prevent mix-ups, and at the end of each meal the napkins were rolled, ringed and laid aside until the next use.  Some napkin rings were engraved with a name or initial, and sometimes given for a christening, wedding, or anniversary gift. Others were embellished with attached objects - a father's might have the figurine of a soldier, hunter, hat or boots, while the mother's might have a bird, goddess or flower.  Children's napkin rings were embellished with cherubs, cupids, or a favorite pet.

Victorians, however, can't take credit for their invention, because they first appeared in France in 1800, and their popularity spread to all the countries in the western world.  Most were made of silver or silver plate, but others were made in bone, wood, pearl, porcelain, glass and other materials.  In the 20th century Bakelite and other newer materials were used.

Today, fortunately, they're only used for tablescape embellishments.  The ring and napkin can be placed on the dinner plate, above the plate, or to the left side of the plate.  Once the napkin is removed, the ring is usually placed above the dinner plate.


  1. Fun collection! The only tea themed napkin rings I have are holiday teapots. They add a very festive touch to our December tea events.

  2. Adorable!!! I especially like the porcelain tea cups!

  3. Oh, I love them all! What a great collection. I have 5 (I think, maybe 4) of the "Cup of Christmas Tea" napkin rings, which are teapot shaped, and which I treasure - they were an anonymous gift last Christmas, I found the gift bag hanging on my doorknob one evening, and have not been able to figure out who left them for me! I will have to keep my eyes out for more of these lovely tea items.

  4. You have a great collection! I have 2 different sets...always on the hunt! LOL

  5. A nice collection, I have the same pewter ones which I should remember to use more often.

  6. What a great collection of tea-themed napkin rings you have! I have a few and will have to go study them more closely now ... maybe for a future blog post. ;)


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