Epergne - Ribbon In My Journal

Magical Marriage of Serving and Centerpiece

Phyllis Décor 15 Comments

It is no secret that I love beautiful serving pieces. I also love beautiful centerpieces. When I find both of those things combined into one, it’s even better. This magical combination comes in the form of the epergne. An epergne is a dining centerpiece that sits on four feet with a large central bowl and four or more smaller bowls at the end of arms that extend from the central bowl. They were traditionally used to serve fruit, pickles, nuts, sweetmeats, or other small food items. Some epergnes have specific holders for candles or flowers.

The earliest record of an epergne was in 1725. Originating in France, the name epergne is derived from the French word épargne, meaning “saving.” Epergnes were first introduced as a way to economize, or make the most of, table space. By suspending the smaller bowls from the larger bowl, the table was less cluttered. Epergnes are traditionally made of silver, but by the end of the 18th century, some epergnes began to have elements of glass.

Over the years, many variations of epergnes came to be, such as ones with tiered bowls or trumpet vases. Epergnes are harder to come by today, but can be purchased at auctions, flea markets, antique shops, or online. There was an especially lovely four-trumpet epergne that was featured in Downton Abbey. I dream of the day when I will get the epergne I have always dreamed of: silver with crystal cups and a central crystal bowl. These gorgeous and economizing centerpieces truly stand the test of time.

Comments 15

  1. An epergne is tops on my list of “Antiques I Want to Own Someday”. My perfect epergne would be cranberry glass. I’ve wanted one ever since I went on a tour of Victorian homes and there was one on the dining table. So beautiful!

  2. Growing up in the South an epergne has always been a major decoration on the dining tables of historic homes. Usually I’ve seen them placed on a sterling and mirrored platform or plateau. It’s on my bucket list of items I’d love to have. Especially one in coin silver, not that I mind polishing silver.

  3. Realized I should have posted price. This epergne is listed on Replacements for $2,500. I would be willing to sell my mother’s for $1,500 plus shipping. All five crystal bowls are in perfect condition. I will be glad to provide photos. 903-739-9377 if interested.

    1. We would be interested in purchasing your Reed & Barton epergne.
      Could you please email us a photo of it?

      We live in Granbury, Texas

      Thank you,

      Mark Collinsworth

  4. How timely…I was at the museum last week and I couldn’t figure out what this one particular piece was and now I know…an epergne! It had the glass trumpet vases. Thank you Phyllis.

  5. My decorative imagination envisions the pictured epergne dressed for all seasons and taking center stage for every holiday . What a treasure for all time . I may be on a new quest for a French beauty of silver and crystal …
    Thank you for the history !

  6. I have an antique metal epergne with candle holders on either side. My florist made me spring/summer and autumn/winter silk arrangements in glass bowls that I can slip into the middle and I add coordinating tea lights into the glass holders I glued where a candle would go. (a safer flame alternative)

  7. This is a beautiful piece and I would enjoy having it but I do not entertain any longer and I live quite near the beach in Southern California and it doesn’t fit too well with tank tops and flip flops! I was curious as to the pronunciation as I do not speak or understand a lick of French even though I have a former French daughter-in-law so I am adding this little piece of info from Wikipedia. “Epergne (/ᵻˈpɜːrn/ or /eɪˈpɛərn/) is a type of table centerpiece, usually made of silver, but may be made of any metal or glass or porcelain.” Love all your blogs, Phyllis, and the wonderful ideas and items you share! Keep them coming and many blessings to you, your family, and staff!

  8. Hello Phyllis,I have 3 antique silver with crystal centerpieces.
    They are all from the 19th century.
    I love these very much,always have flowers in the vases and the bowl I fill with easter,fall or christmas items etc.
    One has grapes and grape leaves wrapped around the silver and around the crystal vase and the biggest one has two silver birds and also grapes and grape leaves wrapped around the crystal vase.
    I have purchased these centerpieces at several auction houses here in The Netherlands.
    First time I saw these beautiful center pieces I loved them right away they are gorgeous things left from earliyer generations to be cherished by us I think.
    Love to see and read everytime your ribbon about such beautiful things that I love!

  9. Good Morning Phyllis and fellow lovers of Phyllis’s journal. I also love wonderful and unusual center pieces. I believe that a beautiful centerpiece welcomes and invites us and our guests into our dining room. The one you pictured is beautiful. I’m shocked that I missed it while watching Downton Abbey:). I refused to miss even one episode and watched it all twice. Have a great day.

  10. Phyllis,
    I have an epergne identical to the one pictured in this blog. Reed and Barton silverplate candelabra with five crystal bowls. It was my mother’s purchased in the 1960s. I would be happy to sell it if you or any other readers are searching for a beautiful centerpiece.
    Thank you,

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