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Edensor, T., Sobell, B., 2021.

Keeping the family silver: the changing meanings and uses of Manchester's civic plate

Output Type:Journal article
Publication:Journal of Material Culture
Publisher:SAGE Publications
Volume/Issue:26 (3)
Pagination:pp. 280-297

This article explores the shifting uses and meanings of Manchester civic plate, a huge silver dining service purchased in 1877 to coincide with the opening of the city's neo-Gothic Town Hall. The authors explore how the silver collection has successively forged relations with a host of different people, places and objects, exemplifying the changing processes through which objects are understood, utilized, valued, maintained, stored and curated. Three key processes are deployed to illuminate these shifting entanglements: the use of the silver to express municipal prestige and advance particular cultural values, the maintenance procedures that have responded to the silver's vital material constituency and practices of display, storage and curation. In accounting for these diverse and volatile processes, the article argues for the virtues of theoretical breadth in exploring the multiplicities of material culture.