Napkin Rings – Then & Now

Antique Napkin RingsAlthough somewhat out of style in the present age, napkin rings are still used on holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Within the confines of their circles are pleated or rolled napkins set at each place setting.

Historically, napkin rings have a rich history. According to an article by Anita Gold from the Chicago Tribune, in 1987, in the Ocala Star Banner, relates that the napkin ring was a personal item for keeping napkins separated from the rest.

In other words, each member of the household had their own napkin ring, each being unique. The napkin was rolled up and placed in the ring after each meal and then washed with the weekly wash. It was more of a ‘sanitary device to save each person’s napkin so it could be used several times’. This flies in the face of the matched napkin rings used today.

Originally known as a Serviette Ring, its origins are thought to be in France in the early 1800s.

According to the 1885 Housewife’s Library, by George A Pelth, unless ‘the washing would thereby become crushingly heavy, the better way is to wash every napkin after one using. Dispense with the napkin-ring. It does guarantee to a man his own soiled linen; but it is far better to give him clean linen. In other words, don’t use the napkin ring unless it would make ‘wash day’ crushingly heavy.

The napkin ring comes into style and then makes its way back out of style as so many things do.


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