antique silver collection

5 Facts Everyone Should Know about Antique Silver Collections

Are you interested in collecting antique silver pieces? Antiquing is an exciting hobby, and it is one that can pay off financially in the long run. If you have an antique silver collection – or if you are thinking about starting one – keep these facts in mind.

antique silver collection

­ Antique Silver Collections Can Consist of 50-­100 Pieces or More

An antique silver collection doesn’t mean that you need to have hundreds or thousands of pieces. Even 50 pieces can be a pretty substantial collection, especially when you consider the value of the silver. If you have less than 50 pieces, go ahead and sell them- you can make huge earnings by selling few pieces of silver (being a precious metal).

You Can Collect One Thing or Make All Antique Silver Fair Game

If you are an antique silver enthusiast, you have several options when it comes to your collection. You can focus on obtaining the same type of item – such as silverware, silver flasks, vases, or any other item that interests you – or you can simply focus on finding unique items that are made out of silver. Just don’t be afraid to mix and match different types of patterns, especially if you’ll be using or displaying your silver pieces throughout your home. Different patterns can create a unique and interesting aesthetic within your collection.

­ Silver Collections Are Easier to Sell than Other Antiques

When it comes to selling antiques, silver collections are one of the easiest items to sell. Silver is a valuable, precious metal, as silver products are typically made from a pure silver alloy with a small proportion of a base metal. Antique dealers are usually excited to get involved in the sale of an antique silver collection, as there is often significant value for everyone involved.

­ Use the 80/20 Value When Selling Your Collection

The 80/20 rule comes from the Pareto principle of business, and it means that 80% of sales tend to come from 20% of the products. When it comes to antiques, the same can be assumed – about 80% of the monetary value of your collection will be concentrated in 20% of your silver pieces. Not all of your items will have a significant dollar value, so when selling your items, you should try and put most of your effort in the most valuable pieces. An antique dealer can help to identify the most important pieces in your collection.

­ Auction Houses Love Collections

If you have an antique silver collection and are ready to sell, a local auction house or dealer will likely be excited to get involved. Collections are easier to sell than individual pieces, especially when you consider the value of silver. If you need assistance in selling your collection, you should have no trouble finding assistance just make sure to seek out a couple of estimates to ensure you are getting a good deal.

Collecting antique silver can be a rewarding and valuable pastime, and at Antique Buyers, we can provide you with a market analysis to find out just how much your collection might sell for at an auction. By taking proper steps when caring for and selling your silver items, all of your hard work and years of dedication to your collection will pay off.

925 sterling denmark 192

Silver Markings : Demystifying the Hallmarks

Your silver is worth money. But there’s so much more to it than that. Over the nearly 30 years that I’ve spent discovering fascinating new pieces, I’ve taken it upon myself to try and share this deep appreciation of not only the value of some items but the rarity, craftsmanship, history, and stunningly brilliant beauty of the collections people bring to me.

And if that isn’t of interest to you, you’ll be interested in knowing that by being able to identify these traits can help assure you that you get exactly what your silver is worth.

Today we’re going to talk about Silver Hallmarks. Just a drop in the bucket, since this is an entire specialty of knowledge, but an excellent foundation.

Silver Hallmarks, Silver Markings:

Sterling Silver

Essentially every new silverware set, tea set, etc. you will come across is marked with a stamp called a silver hallmark. The purpose of a silver mark is to tell the buyer (or in this case, you) what the purity of the silver is. The most common markings for sterling silver are fairly easy to decipher:

Sterling

– 925 or .925

Sterling Silver

This indicates a 92.5% silver purity. Silver is often blended with other metals for increased strength. You may also see lower percentages of silver, such as 900 or 800. This indicates a lower percentage of silver and is no longer considered ‘Sterling’.

Fine Silver and Silver Plate

Fine Silver, quite simply, is composed of 100% pure silver. Pound for pound this is the most valuable silver you can find. We’ll learn next time what can give ‘pound for pound’ a run for its money. However, for today we’ll keep things simple. Fine Silver can just as easily be identified with the markings such as Fine Silver or Pure Silver. Rogers sterling (often marked Wm Rogers – and also indicated ‘Sterling’) is actually pure silver. Whereas Rogers plated silver is not.

Fine Silver or Pure Silver

Be wary of items marked as Stainless, Triple Plate, IS, Silver, EPNS, and the like. These indicate that your items are made from stainless steel, electroplated, or are simply silver plated. While these may be beautiful items they are not all that valuable. You may simply want to keep them in your home for your own enjoyment.

Unique Markings

Here’s where things get interesting. Remember what I said in the beginning? There is so much more to Silver than it’s weight in… silver. You will not always come across a marking that is as simple to read as what I’ve outlined above. Markings from around the world vary in more ways than just the country it comes from.

There are literally thousands of these unique markings offering insight into:

–  The age of a particular item
–  Place of origin
–  Rarity
–  Manufacturer
–  Significance

And so much more.

For a quick example, the image below is a silver marking from the Kirk firm, founded in America in 1815. Samuel Kirk introduced a unique type of repousse decoration that has become known as the Baltimore Style and as since become highly imitated. This marking indicates both the year, location, manufacturer, and historical significance of the piece.

Kirk silver marking

I hope you found this all very informative and exciting! I look forward to sharing more of my appreciation and knowledge about the wonderful works of silver soon. We’ll discuss markings from all over the world and the difference in significance between them.

If you’re eager to discover the true value of your silver right away, I always encourage people to consult a respected expert or two. You can also contact me directly and I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.

925-silver-mark

Identifying Sterling Silver Patterns 101

If you have a set of antique sterling silverware, you might be wondering what the pattern is or if what you have is actually an authentic set of sterling flatware. The first thing you’ll want to do is look for the Sterling name on the silverware. In most cases, you’ll find the word sterling on the back of each piece’s handle. In some cases, your silver may have a different identifying logo that is used to mark sterling pieces.

Antique Marking

Is There a Manufacturer’s Mark?

Next, you’ll want to determine which of the sterling silver patterns you have. There are a good number of these patterns. It can help if you can find the manufacturer’s identifying mark. This is often also located on the handle, although this may be a company logo and not a name. You can look online to find a catalog of the different sterling manufacturers and their related logos. Finding this logo is the easiest way of identifying your sterling silver patterns.

Antique Mark

Determine the Pattern

Once you’ve learned which manufacturer created your antique sterling silverware, you can determine the pattern. Again, the internet is a great resource for this. There are websites devoted to cataloging all of the different antique silverware markings out there, and these sites often include detailed images of the various patterns. All you need to do is look at the images available and see which one matches your silverware.

925 Silver

Tips for Silver Patterns Identification

If you’re having difficulty determining which silver pattern you have, here are a few additional tips that can help you narrow it down.

  • Polish your silverware if you’re having difficulty determining the manufacturer’s mark. Sometimes cleaning it can make it easier to identify.
  • Look for “925” or another number. This identifies how much of the piece is made from  bsterling.
  • Sometimes looking for antique silverware markings that show your flatware set is not sterling silver is just as helpful as looking for sterling marks. If you see “IS” or “A1” on your silverware, it indicates that the piece is silver-plated, not sterling silver.
  • There are some companies that provide silver patterns identification services. You take a clear picture of your silverware pattern and email or fax it to them. Their experts then help you determine the pattern.
  • Remember that some manufacturers changed their company marks over time, especially when a company was bought out or merged with another. If the mark you find doesn’t quite match the image you see online, continue your search into that manufacturer to see if they used a different mark at some point.
Sterling Silver set

Sterling vs. Britannia Silver

Do you have a silver collection at home but aren’t sure of the silver composition? It is possible that your silverware or other antiques are silver plated, but you might also have something more valuable – sterling silver or Britannia silver. While Britannia silver is typically more expensive than sterling silver antiques, both can be indicative of valuable pieces, and it is important to know the difference between the two.

What is 92.5 Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is a silver alloy that contains 92.5% silver by weight. The other 7.5% of its composition is made of other metals, mostly copper, and antiques often denote their sterling silver composition with a “925” or “sterling” hallmark. Historically, sterling silver has been used for a variety of eating utensils, flatware, and other serving items, and there are many sterling silver pieces that are prized as antiques today.

Sterling silver has long been heralded for its versatile applications and lustrous finish. Sterling silver is harder than gold, but it is considered to be one of the most pliable metals. This malleability makes it easy to use sterling silver to create various forms and shapes, and there are many prized antiques that are made from this metal.

 

Sterling Silver set

What is Britannia Silver?

The Britannia standard of silver was developed in 1697 as a way to prevent British sterling coins from being melted to create silver plate. Unlike sterling silver, which is made of 92.5% silver, Britannia silver is composed of at least 95.84% pure silver. The other 4.16% of its composition is made of copper and other metals. Britannia silver is also more expensive and less robust than sterling silver.

There are several marks that can indicate a piece is Britannia silver. The Britannia figure is widely recognized and was the first of the Britannia silver marks introduced to indicate. 958 silver fineness. Later, a “lions head erased” mark was introduced for the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. The number “958” is also stamped on Britannia silver pieces.

Is Your Piece Sterling or Britannia Silver?

The hallmarks on your silver item are the best way to determine if your piece is sterling silver or Britannia. However, if you are unsure of the silver composition – or if you simply want to learn more about the value of your piece – there are resources that can help. An auction house, antique dealer, or appraiser can provide you some helpful guidance on what exactly you have with your silver piece.

Silver Marking on silver tea sets

Markings on Silver

Owning a piece of silver is like owning a piece of history, finding markings on silver can sometimes be quiet difficult. Each unique piece is stamped, or hallmarked, with defining markings from the maker and the era it was verified in. If your silver piece has no markings, you probably do not have a legitimate piece. It is important to learn how to identify markings on silver in order to properly date and valuate each piece.

Identifying Markings on Silver Pieces

To identify markings, you should be able to locate them in key places. You may need to clean up the piece first though. Due to alchemical properties of silver and the base metals, usually copper, needed to strengthen the soft metal, silver is highly susceptible to tarnish. If your silver piece is covered in a soot like or blackened layer, gently take a clean dry cotton cloth to rub away the aged varnish using a specialized cream made for silver. Take care to begin in one area and in a circular motion methodically clean the silver. You do not need water or any harsh chemical. These can damage your historical relic.

As you clean away the tarnish keep an eye out for any markings that appear to be stamped into the metal. These marks are applied using a hammer and punch usually just before the final polishing. This is because when they are stamped, there are rough edges that need to get filed down with the rest of the piece. There are usually more than one marking and will be key to identifying the integrity, origin and value of your silver piece. These defining hallmarks are what an expert will need to accurately date the piece and can be found, but not limited to, these common places:

Stamp on silver tea sets

1. On the underside of a vase, tea set, or any novelty object that rests on a flat surface.
2. On the underside of the handle of flatware where there is enough surface area, generally at the end of the stem.
3. On the back side of pieces that stand upright or hang such as picture frames.

Stamps are applied in the places that do not detract from aesthetic quality and where there is enough room to punch them without puncturing thin silver or damaging any edges. They also may not all be in a neat row, but placed in different places along the piece.

Identifying Fraudulent Markings

Unfortunately, over the years there have been individuals who try to reproduce valuable markings in an effort to sell counterfeit articles. These fraudulent markings can easily be identified by knowledgeable professionals who understand the complicated and authoritative laws that have regulated markings on silver for centuries. The most commonly forged markings on silver are the ones that bring the most value such as Tiffany and Unger Bros.

Tiffany silver stamp

The easiest way to identify a counterfeit markings on silver is with a side by side comparison of original markings either from an authentic piece or picture from a credible reference. For a collector, the learning process never ends. There are over 12,000 documented silver marks and that list continues to grow as research is part of the enjoyment and reward. Over time, a knowledgeable collector or dealer will become familiar with the nuances of identifying markings and have experience distinguishing their validity and the unique story each silver piece has to tell.

If you have found markings on your silver object, let a collector take a look and give you the needed information to determine its value.

Silver Marking

Christofle Silver Plate Marks

Silver plating was a revolutionary innovation that was both developed and perfected by Christofle company founder C. Christofle. With silver plating, it suddenly became possible to democratize the trade of silversmithing in order to make beautiful silver pieces more affordable for customers. With silver plating, customers who had previously coveted items in the Christofle line, but were turned off by the price had a way to get the pieces they loved.

Silver plating was the heart of the Christofle legacy, and it could be used for every product category except for jewelry. However, even with silver plated items, it was still important that pieces be easily identifiable as part of the Christofle line. That’s why the company chose to use special hallmarks indicating the manufacturer and the amount of silver in the plating. Today, many customers have questions about the items in their collection and the amount of silver they contain.

 Standard Full Mark

The first Christofle standard full mark was used from 1841-1862. Sometimes referred to as the “CC” oval mark, this silver mark consists of an oval with a balance and the image of a bee in the center. On each side of the balance is a capital “C,” and the two letters stand for Charles Christofle. This oval marking is usually accompanied by several other marks:

  • The inscription “Christofle”
  • A number referring to the piece number in the production line
  • A number representing the silver content, with each digit in a separate box

Christofle Silver Plate Marks

The Evolution of the Silver Mark

Beginning in 1862, a second standard full mark was used. The main difference from the earlier mark as that the “CC” mark was now put inside of a square box called the “poincon de responsabilite.” Instead of a bee, there is now an image of a rosette (flower). Another new element was the designation of the silver content in square-shaped boxes rather than the former lozenge-shaped boxes.

In 1935, Christofle introduced the third standard full mark. Instead of using the initials “CC,” it now contained the initials “OC.” The OC refers to “Orfevrerie Christofle” or Silversmith Christofle. The “OC” marking is enclosed in a lined regular box.

Silver Marking

Antique Silver Dealers Can Evaluate Your Piece

If you have a Christofle piece and need to know its value, Florida silver buyers are a great resource to determine what exactly you have. At Antique Silver Buyers, we can evaluate your silver item or collection to determine its authenticity and whether it is sterling or plated. With a wealth of knowledge about silver plated hallmarks, we’ll give you an idea about how much your collection would sell for at auction. If you are in the market to sell your piece, this information will be valuable when you decided on a price.

Antique Sterling Silver Bowls

The Great Artistry And Value Of Silver Bowls

Antique sterling silver bowls are some of the most valuable pieces of silver collectables – and for some very good reasons:

 

Unlike silver flatware or tea pots, for example, where other materials are often used to increase strength or and durability ( See this information on weighing your silver.) Sterling Silver Bowls have no technical need for such alterations and can contain quite a high silver weight value. This can make selling silver bowls online or in person a very profitable venture.

As far as we know, antique silver bowls are one of the oldest forms of silver manufacturing going back more than 6000 years. That isn’t to say that you’re holding onto a relic from ancient Ur – you’re probably not – but it is a tradition that has had a long time to develop in style and history which is another pillar for the valuation of precious silver items.In addition to this, since they are predominantly decorative and fairly sturdy, the condition of silver bowls can stand the test of time longer than items like tea pots which tend to be thinner and come into regular contact with boiling water, tea leaves, or hard minerals

But truly one of my favourite things about silver bowl collecting is the sheer creativity and artistry that the form has taken on.


antique-combine-image

If you wondering where you can sell your silver bowl , I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend that you contact me directly, however you have many options at your disposal. Online auction houses are the one of the easiest and most popular ways of selling Antique Silver, however you may not always fetch the price you’re looking for. Pawn shops fetch a similar scenario in the sense that when you’re not dealing with an expert you may come across someone who will pay you simply for the silver weight value of your items.

Your best bet, whether you intend to sell at an online auction or directly to a buyer, would be to contact an antique dealer directly. They will be able to give you a strong understanding of the value of your item and, if interested, make you an offer.

We all like to get the best price on their silver items, you can visit to my contact page and send me information with photos and I will offer you the best price for any antique silver.

Sterling Silver

What Exactly is Sterling Silver? & How to Identify Sterling Silver Quality?

Sterling silver is a type of metal compound that is most often used when describing jewelry. Sometimes simply referred to as “sterling” or “925”, the term sterling silver indicates the content of the compound. So, what exactly is sterling silver?

The Composition of Sterling Silver

Like gold, silver is delicate and soft when found in its purest form, and unfortunately, this doesn’t make it a durable material. To make it more useful, pure silver is often combined with metal alloys like copper as a way of increasing the strength and durability. When pure silver is combined with less than 7.5% alloy, it is referred to as sterling silver. Sterling silver will contain at least 92.5% silver.

Sterling Silver

Identifying Sterling Silver

Do you have a piece of silver jewelry or silverware and wonder if the piece is actually sterling silver? There are a few steps that you can take to test your item:

  • The white cloth test. Use a soft white cloth to gently rub down your item. If there are black marks on the cloth when you pull it away, this is a good sign that the material is sterling silver.
  • The nitric acid test. Adding drops of nitric acid to real sterling silver won’t have any effect, but the same can’t be said about non-silver metals. When nitric acid is added to other options, they will lose their color.
  • The magnet test. This is a fairly straightforward test, as magnets don’t have an effect on silver. If you hold a magnet up to your silver piece and find that the item is attracted to the magnet, this should be a clear sign that you don’t have a sterling silver object.
  • The smell test. Take a whiff of your silver item. Smell something metallic? That means you’ve got something other than sterling silver, as too much copper is present. Sterling silver should not have an odor.
  • The hidden marking test. Real sterling silver – especially jewelry – will have a hidden marking on it stating “Sterling Silver,” “925,” or “Ster.” If you don’t see any of these markings, you should be wary about whether or not you have the real thing.

Sterling silver doesn’t come cheap, and it requires a considerable investment, regardless of whether you are buying a silver antique or silver pendant. Fortunately, it is a worthwhile investment, as the value of the piece will increase with time.

Cleaning Your Sterling Silver

There are many metals out there that are tarnish-resistant, but unfortunately, sterling silver isn’t one of them. If you have a silver piece that you don’t wear or use often, it is possible for tarnish to build up on the surface. Regular polishing using a silver cleaning is a simple and effective solution, and it is important to clean off the tarnish before it has the chance to build. Otherwise, you may end up with long-term damage to your sterling silver piece.

You can save yourself time, money, and hassle by purchasing your sterling silver jewelry or antiques from a reputable dealer. This way, you can ensure that you are making a sound investment.

Get your FREE verbal, no obligation appraisal!

antique image

Hallmarks -Do you know how to identify the country or era your antique silver piece is from?

Do you know how to identify the country or era your antique silver piece is from? Hallmarks are the official stamps placed on a crafted piece of silver to properly identify many of its properties. They are easier to find than they are to interpret unless you have the help of a professional collector. Antique silver hallmarks attempt to tell the story of who made the piece, when it was made and various other tidbits of information that hold vital interest to collectors and determine the value.

Origin of Antique Silver Hallmarks

Originally, marks were stamped into the silver using a hammer and punch for the sole purpose of regulating the trade during a time when some craftsman were producing ‘drossy’ work. This took place in England through the regulating guild known as the Goldsmiths’ Company, for the sole purpose of ensuring that a standard was upheld. The Goldsmiths’ Company began their work as a guild in 1300 during the peak of a silver boom, and was established in 1327 with the issuance of a royal charter from Edward III. They operated out of the Goldsmiths’ Hall in London and immediately began inspecting pieces and keeping official records. They coined the term used for stamping the silver as Hallmarks because the silver pieces had to be brought to ‘the Hall’ for assaying and marking. They are still hallmarking today and stand as a leading international expert.

 

antique hallmark

Interpreting Hallmarks on Antique Silver

Today, many nations have their own hallmarks to uphold standard regulations surrounding the industry. Because England was the first to implement such a system, they are the most widely circulated. Here are some of the most common:

1. The Leopard Head

The very first documented reference to a Hallmark was the leopard’s head. The iconic symbol stood for the ‘guardians of the craft’ and was the assay mark from the Goldsmiths’ Company of London. At one point it was crowned and remained so until 1821, when the crown was removed. Today, it is still used as the London assay hallmark.

2. The Lion Passant

This hallmark was instituted in 1544 and is one of the most common throughout all of British silver because it denotes the national standard purity of the piece. It is of a lion poised for attack and may or may not have a crown upon the head. If it has an authentic lion passant, the antique silver piece is made with 92.5% silver and is officially Sterling.

3. The Britannia Standard Mark

Lion passant hallmarks were replaced across much of England during 1697 to 1720 by the Britannia standard mark. The standard purity level of silver was raised during this time period to 95.84% and was indicated by Britannia (the female personification of the island of Great Britain) sitting down with a shield at her left side. Scotland and Ireland did not adopt this standard, while London no longer used the leopard head during this time period, but rather a side facing lion to denote the higher standard.

 

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As you can see, the world of antique silver hallmarks is a complex and historically rich system that many collectors and dealers spend their lives researching. If you have silver you want to know more about, whether to sell or begin your own collecting journey, bring your piece to one of our antique experts.

repousse sterling silver Baltimore Repousse silver items

Repousse Sterling Silver

Have you ever wondered how some antique silver pieces can contain such detailed and extravagant designs? It is through a metal working process known as Repousse /rəˌpo͞oˈsā/. It is a French word that means “pushed back” and it relates to the labor intensive way the metal must be carefully manipulated by a skilled silversmith. It is a combination of skilled technique that dates back for thousands of years, but some of the top master metalsmiths have left a Repousse legacy.

Baltimore Repousse

In fact, repousse is such a large and distinctive aspect of antique sterling silver in American history that it is commonly referred to as Baltimore Repousse. Baltimore, MD became known as a hotbed of aspiring and highly skilled silversmiths that manufacturing firms settled down there. As more and more of the repousse sterling silver patterns emerged from these talented firms, some of the most well-known makers today got their start in Baltimore during the mid-19th century emergence of this praised metal working technique.

Baltimore Repousse silver items

Baltimore repousse was an expensive luxury reserved for the rapidly emerging wealthy class. It replaced most of the colonial style 925 silver on the tables of debutante balls and dinner parties, also French traditions. Most repousse sterling silver pieces were hand hammered, embossed and even gently pressed from the reverse side, but some, like flatware, were made using a press mold. However, the antique silver markings would be stamped onto each valuable piece. Identifying those markings today can help an antique silver dealer valuate your piece.

The Who’s Who in Repousse Silver

Some of the most valuable pieces today bear the markings of names like:
Tiffany & Co
Jenkins and Jenkins
Schofield Company
Stieff Silver Company
And Samuel Kirk, the silversmith who is credited the most with bringing repousse sterling silver to Baltimore.

Stieff and Kirk later merged while some of the silver manufacturing firms were handed down to sons and merged with other partners in the 20th century. The Baltimore firms are no longer operational today. Steiff and Kirk were eventually bought up by the famous Walter Scott Lenox of which we know as the American company today; Lenox.

jenkins and jenkins silver stamp

Tiffany Repousse silver is some of the most valuable on the market today. A single spoon can bring hundreds of dollars. Stieff Repousse sterling silver is also highly sought after by collectors. If you have a piece of silver, or a set, hollowware or flatware, it is important to know what you have. Just because it may have an intricate design doesn’t mean it is worth top dollar. Even some of the famous names in silver made silver plated pieces.

Taking your pieces to a professional will allow you to have your crafted piece of history evaluated and assessed. Antique silver buyers will be able to tell you, based on the markings, who made your piece of repousse sterling silver, when it was made, if it is sterling silver or silver plated as well as the town it was assayed in. All of these factors play a vital role in determining the value to you and the value to collectors should you decide to have your piece formally appraised for estate purposes or to sell at auction.