Something Old, Something New… Wedding Gift Recommendations From Our Worthopedia

Well, wedding season is definitely upon us. Whether you are off to a small friends and family gathering, a larger, more formal ceremony, or even a royal celebration (lucky you!), one thing remains constant – the pressure to score the “perfect” gift for the newlyweds. Of course, the easiest solution is an online gift certificate.  One click and you’re done. But how about something a little more personal – and spectacular?  All trends point to the fact that many couples decorating their first homes together are looking to the midcentury modern era (c. 1933-1965) for design inspiration.  Here are a few “back to the future” wedding gift ideas that clearly demonstrate that good taste – and good design – are truly timeless.

This mid-century modern Starburst clock was made in Germany by Elgin.  It measures about 30″ in diameter overall, with a 7″ diameter clock face.  It sold for $294 in March 2018.

Surprising the newlyweds with a vintage clock is certainly an up to the minute gift idea. After all, a good-looking timepiece fulfills both functional and aesthetic needs! Starburst style clocks, which reflected the science and technology-centric culture of the 1950’s, were produced in many sizes and styles, but shared the common theme of a center disk and spokes. 

This 1970’s lighting fixture was made by the American lighting company Lightolier and is detailed with 18 glass globes. It measures overall about 33″ by 37″. It sold for $223.50 in February 2018.

Now let’s turn the spotlight to another fun and unexpected wedding gift idea – a vintage lighting fixture. Sputnik style chandeliers, named after the Soviet’s Sputnik satellite, debuted in the 1950’s.  Although their exact design origins are not clear, many people credit Italian engineer Gino Sarfatti for the original concept.  These fixtures, which vary a bit from maker to maker, feature lightbulbs or fixtures on rods which radiate in all angles from a central point. 

This light pink, 1960’s Ericofon was made by North Electric Company of Gallion, OH. It sold for $95 in March, 2018.

Dial your wedding gift selection up to the next level with a midcentury vintage telephone! Rotary or “Princess” style phones were a common feature throughout the homes of people growing up in the 1950’s through the 1980’s.  Today’s cell phone technologies have made these devices all but extinct from a practical perspective. However, what is old is new again, and midcentury phones in interesting designs and unusual colors are gaining popularity as both collectibles and home focal points. This design is called the Ericofon. It was originally designed by the Ericsson Company of Sweden and includes a rotary dial within its base. This pattern is considered so iconic that MoMA in NYC includes one in its collection.

These fully marked teak serving bowl and tongs were designed by Jens Quistgaard and made by Dansk in 1965.This teak set sold for $129 in March 2018.

Teak is chic, and certainly makes a great wedding gift.  The wood itself is frequently a key element in midcentury modern furniture, yet has a modern glow even today.  A vintage teak dining room set or shelving unit may be out of your gifting price range, but this wood also was used to produce more affordable fine kitchen and table ware “back in the good old days.” The fully marked teak serving bowl and tongs in the photo above were designed by Jens Quistgaard and made by Dansk in 1965. Quistgaard was the company’s lead designer a half century ago; his items today are featured in the Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the MoMA. 

This colorful, graphically stunning and all original 1950’s KLM/Royal Dutch Airlines travel poster encourages travelers to “Fly to Europe.” It measures 23-5/8″ x 39-3/8″ and sold for $150 in February 2018.

How about helping the newlyweds feather their nest – and decorate their walls – with some wonderfully eye-catching and period vintage art? Travel became more accessible post World War II and airlines, railroads, and scenic destinations often created romanticized, appealing posters to advertise their services and highlights. These idealized, earnest images reflect a time long ago when getting from point A to point B was exciting and elegant – not so focused on security and delays as things are today.

This set of four, 16″ square Vera Neumann floral napkins with finished edges sold for $24.95 in March, 2018.

Let’s table this discussion with a look at one final wedding gift recommendation – a set of vintage dinner table napkins.  Fabrics from the 1950’s through the 1970’s often sported oversized floral, geometric, or nature-inspired patterns. Vera Neumann (1907-1993) was a well-known textile designer during this period. Her patterns were dramatic yet playful, and always featured her bold “Vera” signature and ladybug mark. Her images are so beloved and iconic that even more than a decade after her passing, Crate and Barrel and Target produced Vera licensed products.


Rebekah Kaufman is a Worthologist who specializes in vintage Steiff and other European plush collectibles.  You can follow her blog, which focuses on vintage Steiff finds, Steiff antiquing and travel adventures, international Steiff happenings, and the legacy and history of the Steiff company at http://mysteifflife.blogspot.com.  Sign up for her Steiff newsletter by contacting her directly at steifflife@gmail.com.

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