Carrying On: New Uses for Old Cutlery Trays

An American painted pine knife box with "trompe l'oeil decoration" circa 1830 and with red interior and central arched divider.The best antiques are ones that you can really live with and some of the very best are cutlery trays. These trays, designed to carry flatware from kitchen to table, look deceptively simple.  In reality, they are some of the most useful antiques objects out there!  Pick one up and put it on a side table for outgoing mail, keys and phones, or just put one beside the couch and see how rarely you have trouble finding your remotes.

You can have your pick too, because almost everyone would have had one of these nifty little carriers, so there are plenty out there to choose from.  Lidded examples made from more dramatic woods like tiger maple can bring over $1,000, and beautiful paint-decorated examples, like the one pictured above, command even higher prices.  (This one brought over $4,400!)  But, if you’re not looking for fancy paint and if you don’t mind a small repair or a little less age, you can find attractive trays that you don’t have to worry about using!  It’s easy to find a pretty piece for between $100 and $300, and you have an easy way to introduce antiques into your decor in a natural and useful way.  Be on the lookout for one the next time you’re out at the local antique mall or flea market.