References in classic literature ?
An epergne or centrepiece of some kind was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with cobwebs that its form was quite undistinguishable; and, as I looked along the yellow expanse out of which I remember its seeming to grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if some circumstances of the greatest public importance had just transpired in the spider community.
'Here you have as much of me in my ugliness as if I were only lead; but I am so many ounces of precious metal worth so much an ounce;--wouldn't you like to melt me down?' A corpulent straddling epergne, blotched all over as if it had broken out in an eruption rather than been ornamented, delivered this address from an unsightly silver platform in the centre of the table.
Though a lot of epergnes must be viewed today behind the glass of museum showcases, there are, fortunately, many in private hands that are still brought out for special occasions.
In a letter to his wife in 1806, Collingwood writes: "I am much obliged to the corporation of Newcastle for every mark which they give of their esteem and approbation of my service: but where shall we find a place in our small house for all those vases and epergnes? "A kind letter from them would have gratified me as much, and have been less trouble."
There will also be all manner of tableware and flatware from silver specialists such as Malka Levine, P & P Antiques and Jeffrey Neal, formerly of the London Silver Vaults, who will offer pieces dating from 1700 up to 1940 including large table centrepieces - or epergnes - as well as canteens of cutlery.
A great Birmingham invention, and business success, which is still commanding a strong following in the auction room, where Elkington epergnes and other items stand out as quality items and often sell for more than pounds 1,000.
Hung just below the ceiling of a room consecrated to creamers and epergnes is a characteristically amusing Poelenburgh of thickset classical figures engaged in a heavy-footed dance, but about to be disturbed by some cows plodding out from a barn: Dutch mythographies are often impaired because their painters could not resist bringing cows into them.
Perfect for the Christmas table are the centrepieces or epergnes offered by Jeffrey Neal and Lyn Bloom of the London Silver Vaults whilst fine porcelain will be offered by specialists such as Mark and Sandra Diamond, Typically English and John Newton renowned for continental pieces such as Meissen.
Ploughing through 100 years of Pottery Gazette and Glass Trades Review I was surprised to see page after page of genuine `Victorian' glass centrepieces and epergnes, not in editions from the 1870s as one might expect but in editions dating to the 1920s and 1930s!