Keyhole Pattern. The keyhole pattern was a popular design during the 18th century and was often used in silverware. The pattern’s name comes from the shape of the aperture at the terminal, which resembles a keyhole. A style of pierced pattern can be seen on the flat, horizontal handle of some porringers. It typically consists of four to ten additional holes, with the terminal hole resembling a keyhole.
Around 1730, it replaced the so-called “geometric pattern,” which featured apertures of different shapes, some of which were open on the sides. A pattern of pierced work is found on the flat horizontal handle of some porringers, having at the terminal an aperture suggestive of the form of a keyhole with, usually, four to ten other apertures. It superseded c. 1730, the so-called ‘geometric pattern’, which included apertures of various shapes, some open at the sides.
Textiles and Ceramics
It was a popular design during the 18th century when ornate and intricate patterns were in vogue. The pattern was created by repeating a series of interlocking shapes that formed a continuous design. This pattern was particularly popular in England and France and used to decorate everything from furniture to clothing.
Today, the keyhole pattern remains a classic design that has stood the test of time. It continues to be used in modern designs, albeit with some modifications to suit contemporary tastes. Its enduring popularity is a testament to its timeless beauty and versatility as a design element.
Newman, H. (2000). An illustrated dictionary of silverware: 2,373 entries relating to British and North American wares, decorative techniques and styles, and leading designers and makers, principally from c.1500 to the present. Thames & Hudson.
Additional Reading – Silverware
Dolan, M. (1993). 1830s-1990’s American Sterling Silver Flatware: A Collector’s Identification & Value Guide. United States: Books Americana. https://amzn.to/3mYhbWW
Haslam, M., & Haslam, M. (1995). Marks & Monograms: The Decorative Arts, 1880-1960. Collins & Brown.
Helliwell, S. (1988). Collecting Small Silverware. United Kingdom: Phaidon-Christie’s. https://amzn.to/3TnVSdA
Krekel-Aalberse, A. (1989). Art Nouveau and Art Deco silver. Abrams.
Langford, J. (1998). Silver: A Practical Guide to Collecting Silverware and Identifying Hallmarks. Australia: Sandstone Books. https://amzn.to/3LytDqD
Newman, H. (1987). An illustrated dictionary of silverware: 2,373 entries relating to British and North American wares, decorative techniques and styles, and leading designers and makers, principally from c.1500 to the present. United Kingdom: Thames and Hudson. https://amzn.to/40jlY3p
Rainwater, D. T., Fuller, M., & Fuller, C. (2004). Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers. Schiffer Pub.
Rinker, H. L. (1997). Silverware of the 20th Century: The Top 250 Patterns. United States: House of Collectibles. https://amzn.to/3JLVUsu