Determination of Value
Antique silver tea sets never seem to go out of style, but beautiful as they are they require a great deal of upkeep. If you are looking to sell or just value your piece this short guide will assist you in learning about your silver tea set. Valuing a tea set depends on looking at the marks to determine maker and age, and the items included in the set.
History and description of tea services
Silver tea sets, or services, are part of the past when afternoon high tea was offered as a small meal. If important guests were coming by, the silver tea set would be used. ‘High tea’ began in the early 17th century after Europeans observed the formal tea in the Far East, and the tradition grew by the middle of the 18th century with trade with India increasing access to tea. Often a strong oriental influence can be seen in European tea sets of this time period.
A true silver service sterling silver. At the bare minimum, these sets include the tea pot, sugar bowl and milk jug (creamer). Some sets include sugar tongs, teaspoons or even occasionally, cups, and saucers. The best, and most valuable, include a silver serving tray.
Hallmarks can be found on each piece of an antique sterling silver tea set and these hallmarks should each match, including the tray. The markings are a bit confusing, but with some study of a good quality guide, you should be able to distinguish most of them. A professional appraiser might perform an acid test to tell the silver content, although services produced after 1850 should have a mark of ‘sterling,’ ‘.995,’ or ‘925/1000’ to state the sterling composition. Other sets would be silver plated or weighted silver, and will not be as valuable.
Based on age, maker, and the pieces included, value can be a wide range. A sterling set can start at $1,000, while a silver-plated set is much less- though the maker will matter. Services without a tray are less valuable, and those with additional pieces are of course more desirable.
It can be hard to determine the age and authenticity of a silver tea service, so for an accurate appraisal it is best to visit a professional antiques dealer.. At Sarasota Silver Buyers, we offer the best price throughout central Florida and have many years of experience in evaluating antiques.