14 April 2020

Hagerty visits the traditional Viennese silversmith Jarosinski & Vaugoin

Tableware & Cooking

Maintaining beautiful accessories is one thing, but how they are made is quite another. At Hagerty, we're not only interested in bringing you silverware, jewellery, and home accessories care, but also providing you with insights behind the scenes of interesting companies.

Hagerty CEO Stéphane Lury visited the traditional family business, the silversmiths Jarosinski & Vaugoin in Vienna, and allowed us to take a look behind the scenes and ask Mr. Mag. Jean-Paul Vaugoin a few questions about his company.


The company Jarosinski & Vaugoin

The company was founded in 1847 by Carl Vaugoin. He specialized in heavy hand-cut table cutlery, laying the foundation for the company. The criteria of quality, elegance and usability have been deeply embedded in the company philosophy right from the start and are still reflected in the processing of each individual piece. The awareness of creating precious and lasting top quality objects from a wonderful precious metal has been passed down from generation to generation. However, one always went with the times and understood masterfully, tradition and progress to unite.

Did you know that the oldest mold still in use was made in 1808? This is a Napoleonic cutlery that was originally made in Paris. And since the Vaugoin family came to Austria from France, Jean-Paul Vaugoin has a special historical connection to this particular piece, he told us.

And so, it is difficult to say which piece Jean-Paul Vaugoin cares most about, when in the silversmith "Jarosinski & Vaugoin" over 200 different cutlery patterns - smooth, classic shapes; Baroque playful patterns are produced to very modern designs by contemporary artists.

But we all know how it is, every human being has one favourite and so does Mr. Vaugoin: his personal, favourite piece is a replica of the famous salt barrel of Benvenuto Cellini, the "Saliera" (1543). The smithy made this originally in the 1960s for Queen Elizabeth II and even today, this gem can still be produced.

But did you know why we use cutlery at all? We were curious and inquired about Jean-Paul Vaugoin, because if he does not know, who should know?


The history of cutlery

Cutlery in its present form is a relatively young "invention".

First there were knives. Man uses the knife, or sharp blades since the Paleolithic. These were first made of stone, wood, bone or other hard materials.

In the history of cutlery, the knife has always been a personal item that has been used for many different purposes. The knife was worn across societies, ie nobles as well as simple farmers.

With the rising metalworking, the knife was first made of bronze, then iron and finally made of steel. The first stone-age knives, which were still made of stone, could be made by certain techniques and by special materials, e.g. Flintstones, similar in sharpness to today's scalpel. From ancient times, the knife was used more and more in daily life and was already worn in a leather scabbard. The handles of the personal knives were mostly made of wood or bone.

In the Roman Empire appeared for the first time small fruit knives with blades of ivory or bone on the table. During this era, the folding knife was also developed. In the Middle Ages, the knife was first worn as a "personal cutlery" on a belt in a matching case. This one referred to as cutlery. It was not until the 19th century that the knife replaced the spoon as a food tool. Previously, it served more to break up larger meals.

During the Middle Ages through to the Renaissance, meals were usually cut into bite-sized portions by a caretaker, which is why no personal knives were often used here. From when exactly the first knife was used in the history of the cutlery as cutlery, is not clear in the science. Perhaps this was already practiced in the 15th century.

While knives were used very early, forks were only regularly used in the late 17th century.
In the past, forks were usually used only as a carving fork, and most were eaten with their fingers. In the Christian area, (3-pronged) forks were even regarded as the "work of the devil" and therefore rarely used. In the Middle Ages, the fork was first used: it was used as a fruit fork, so you do not get your hands dirty when eating fruit.

The spoon is the oldest in the history of cutlery. Back in the Neolithic, our ancestors formed spoons of bone or wood, sometimes even clay. The spoon's original idea is to reproduce a creative hand to make eating and drinking easier. The spoon generally consists of two parts, namely the stem and the spoon. Laffe can also be called a spoon bowl, which makes the name easier to understand. For a long time, spoons were used in history as a cutting tool next to the knife. Until well into modern times, the spoon was a luxury item, which was inherited at the death of the owner, from where the proverb "the spoon deliver" comes from.

That cutlery at the table, as we know it today, became popular only in the late 19th century and prevailed even among the lower classes.


Do's and Don'ts of silver cleaning

Surely, each of you knows a few tips that he / she has heard from mum or grandma about cleaning silverware. There would be e.g. Polishing with salt and aluminum foil or cleaning with toothpaste - there are really numerous "home remedies" that are also advertised on the Internet.
But what does the professional say: "I definitely advise against it! Not only is the end result of cleaning with these methods uncertain, it is also very tedious in particular. Theoretically, one or the other may actually work. But since Hagerty silver care products are very easy to apply, I strongly recommend these professional cleaners! "

Armed with this great knowledge, we can really look forward to the next dinner with the right cutlery and accessories.


And if you feel like taking a look at the silversmiths "Jarosinski & Vaugoin" and maybe get one or the other piece, then Jean-Paul Vaugoin and his team would be very happy about your visit. More information at http://www.vaugoin.com or at Zieglergasse 24, 1070 Vienna.