Recently a young relative got married and requested a trivet as a wedding present. I wanted to gift the couple something contemporary and practical, yet well made. Metal trivets currently being manufactured leave much to be desired, so I searched on eBay for a vintage Virginia Metalcrafters (VM) trivet- hoping to find one Mint In Box (MIB).
There were several mint examples to choose from, but they were cast iron or polished brass. Then I stumbled upon this auction: a MIB Colonial Williamsburg Cypher in a finish described only as “Silver.” I couldn’t resist buying it!
Upon delivery the trivet was indeed MIB, still shrink wrapped within the original box. The end tag identified the casting as White Bronze. I’d never seen a VM trivet in this finish before! It measures 6″ x 6″ with four short feet (covered with rubber caps) and weighs 14 ounces. On face: the W cypher. On reverse: CW 10-14 COLONIAL WmSBURG CYPHER COPYRIGHT 1950 and the VM logo.
I did a quick Internet search for White Bronze. It’s composed of 55-60% Copper, 20-25% Tin and 15-20% Zinc. The result is a finish similar to stainless steel that’s non-magnetic, scratch resistant and wears well.
● Yellow brass was more popular, but white bronze coordinated nicely with sterling silver.
● Anything in shrink wrapped packaging, if not cast iron, was most likely lacquered.
● The square of cardboard the trivet rests on has a punched number 8, indicating that it fit in a #8 box. (That makes sense, as the original box is 8″ square.)
● Virginia Metalcrafters produced another finish called “Silvertone” which may have appeared in some of the earlier catalogs. Members were unsure if it was white brass, white bronze or some other metal like aluminum.
Although I can’t determine the exact years of production, the presence of a Zip Code on the label indicates this trivet was produced after July 1, 1963 (when Zip Codes were first introduced in the USA).
My 1969 Virginia Metalcrafters catalog advertised the Colonial Williamsburg Cypher trivet in several metals and finishes. Note that White Bronze was the most expensive. The retail prices at that time were: Black Cast Iron $3.00; Verdi Cast Iron $4.00; Polished Bronze $7.50; and Polished White Bronze $8.50.
I love the look and feel of Virginia Metalcrafters’ White Bronze! I’m hoping to locate another vintage White Bronze casting for myself but they appear to be quite scarce. Note that the Williamsburg Cypher trivet was the only product offered in White Bronze in the fifty page 1969 VM catalog.