Tips and Tricks To Eliminate Smudge from Silver

Vinegar

Vinegar

Are you tired of seeing smudges all over your antique silver flatware? If so, you probably spend a lot of time with a polishing cloth trying to get those smudges out. But what if there was a better way? There are a number of different old tips and tricks that you can use to get those smudges out of your favourite silver pieces. Here are a few of these different tricks.

Olive Oil

Most people know that they can clean their antique silver using vinegar. It’s one of the time-testing methods that works incredibly well. It will also remove any tarnishing from your silver, leaving it looking brand new and smudge-free.

Olive Oil

This technique is great for cleaning items such as antique sterling silver bowls that are going to be passed around a lot. The olive oil will clean all the smudges off, but it does more than that. First, put a bit of olive oil on a soft cleaning cloth. Now rub the cloth against your silver, going with the grain. Then wipe it off using a clean cloth. You’ll remove a good amount of the olive oil, but very trace amounts will remain. These amounts will actually create a protective barrier that prevents future smudges. You’ll need to reapply every now and then, of course.

Use Proper Storage Techniques

If you don’t want to spend time cleaning your silver when you take it out of the cabinet, make sure you’re storing it correctly. All of the silver should be completely dry before you place it in the cabinet. Make sure each item is wrapped in special anti-tarnish paper or in flannel. Then put each piece into an air-tight bag. You can also add some of those small packets of silica gel to the drawer or cabinet. They will help reduce the humidity in the area.

Use Proper Storage Techniques

For items such as antique silver trays, you may want to get anti-tarnish cloth to place in between them when stacking. This is especially necessary if you’re not wrapping the entire piece in anti-tarnish paper. Silver scratches easily, so you want to make sure your items are protected.

Other Cleaning Methods

There are a lot of other common household goods you can use to clean the smudges off of your antique silver tea set and other silver items. Many of these techniques will also help you remove tarnish, so you can take care of two tasks at once.

Other Cleaning Methods

  • Use warm water and a mild dish soap.
  • Use soda water and a damp cloth.
  • Polish the silver with baby oil. Like olive oil, it will help create a protective barrier that prevents future smudging.
  • Use lemon juice.
  • Polish your silver with sheepskin.
  • Use a furniture polish wipe to remove smudges and other spots.
  • Clean your items with glass cleaner.

Many of these tips will work on all of your silver, but if you’re at all concerned, try the solution on a small, unnoticeable part of one piece of silver first.

Silver Patterns that are a Gold Mine for Collectors and Sellers

Have you inherited a set of antique silverware and are wondering if it’s worth anything? Perhaps you’ve come across various sets of flatware at estate sales or thrift stores and wondered if you should purchase it to resell to a collector. Knowing some of the most valuable patterns and sets can be helpful if you’re thinking about selling your silver. Here are some of these patterns you might want to look for.

Antique Tea sets

The Wallace Grand Baroque Pattern

One good example of a set of silver that is worth a nice amount of money is the Wallace Grand Baroque pattern. You may find a standard set of four pieces (fork, salad fork, teaspoon, and knife) of this pattern selling for several hundred dollars. Like most silver sets, there are additional pieces available such as soup spoons, butter knives, and cocktail forks. There are a number of different factors that will determine the overall price you can sell a set of this silver for.

Tea set

Other Patterns to Look For

There are many other patterns you should look for if you want to make a nice profit by reselling silver. Here are a few of them:

  • Audubon by Tiffany – this pattern was produced during the 1950s. In addition to sterling silver, a gold-plated version of the Audubon pattern is also available.
  • Reed and Barton St. Frances – Reed and Barton began producing sterling silver sets in the 1800s. Their older sets are highly sought after, especially since the company went bankrupt in 2015.
  • Rose by Stieff – Stieff, now called Kirk-Stieff, produced a number of patterns. Their most famous is the Maryland or Stieff Rose pattern, a unique print that has been manufactured since 1892.
  • Cactus by George Jensen – this art Deco pattern was mainly produced during the 1920s and 30s.
  • Grand Victoria by Wallace – while not the pattern that made Wallace a true name in the silver industry, the Grand Victoria is still very popular among collectors.

a Tiffany mark

What Makes a Set a Gold Mine?

How do you know if you’ve got a truly collectable set of silverware or if you have something that’s best used at your next family gathering? There are a number of things to take into account. A few pieces of Rose by Stieff may sell fairly well to someone who needs to complete their set, but overall, collectors generally want full sets. A set of Audubon by Tiffany that’s polished, unbent, and undamaged will, naturally, fetch a higher price than a set with rust and obvious heavy use.

Smart Ways to Sell Family Silver for Cash

When you decide it’s time to sell off your family’s antique silver, you want to be sure you get the best value for it. Selling silverware, teapots, and other similar things is a bit more complicated than just heading down to your local pawn shop—at least if you want to get top dollar.To sell silver and get the most out of it, you need to know a few things. Here are a few tips on finding antique silver buyers in Florida, and getting the money that your family silver is truly worth.

Finding Out Where to Sell Silver

Second, the people who work in pawn shops are kind of a jack of all trades when it comes to purchasing and selling goods. They don’t have the trained eye that is required to truly evaluate the worth of a piece. A pawn shop employee may believe that he or she is offering you a great price and unknowingly underbid you for your family silver.

Antique Pawn Shop

Before you take your silver in, spend some time polishing it. A trained eye will see the silver’s value, regardless of whether you polished it or not. Still, silver buyers are people, too, and leaving a good impression will never hurt your position.

Never settle for the first offer you get. Remember, these people make a living by buying low and selling high. Get two or three offers, then consider which one you feel is best for your situation.

An alternative to this would be to take your family silver to a silver dealer for an evaluation as to its value. Be very clear beforehand that you are willing to pay him or her for his or her expertise in valuing the silver, but you will not be selling to him or her (that removes any incentive to provide a lower than usual valuation). Then, using that valuation as a baseline, shop around and see what kind of offers you can get.

Secrets About Silver That Appraisers Don’t Want You to Know

Taking your silver in to be appraised requires some homework on your part if you want to get the best price. Here are some secrets of the trade that many silver appraisers won’t tell you.

While they may look the same, there is a difference between sterling silver, Britannia silver, and other types. Most silver utensils and other things for use around the house—as well as jewelry—are not pure silver. In fact, pure silver usually only comes in bars and is used in international trading or investing.

The reason pure silver is not used to create household items is because pure silver is soft enough that it would bend easily and quickly lose its ability to be used for anything. To strengthen it, the silver is mixed with other metals such as copper. The allows the metal to be shaped and gives it the strength to hold its shape during use.

The purity of the alloy varies, and as you can probably imagine, the purer the form of silver, the more it is worth. If you take some Britannia silver in—not knowing that it is Britannia—the appraiser may give you a price for sterling silver.

Silver plated pieces have value, too

If an appraiser tells you that your piece is only worth a few dollars because it is plated and not solid, you should get another opinion. The value of a given piece comes from a few factors, and one of them is the thickness of the plating. If your piece has plating that is twice as thick as others, it would stand to reason that it is worth more. After all, it has more silver in it.

antique mould

Google a term such as sell silver near me and go find another appraiser. Remember, you don’t have to settle for the first offer, and it is a prudent thing to obtain multiple valuations anyway. You may spend a few dollars more in appraisal fees, but if the end result is a several hundred dollar increase in the price you sell it, you come out far ahead of the game.

Some appraisers are influenced by their own bias

Appraisers are people too. This means that they can be—and often are—influenced by things such as whether they personally like the look of a certain piece of silver jewelry. This can be completely unintentional: an appraiser may truly believe he or she is giving you an honest appraisal, but it may be lower (or higher) than it should be just because he or she dislikes (or likes) the way a piece looks.

For this reason, and others, it’s always a good idea to get no fewer than three appraisals. That way you can identify one that seems to be an outlier and either reject any offers in that range or snap them up if they are higher than the other appraisals. So, take your time, get multiple appraisals, and then decide what you want to do.

Repousse Sterling Silver

*Please consider this disclaimer at the bottom of the page

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.

*Please consider when contacting us that we only purchase in the state of Florida: Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice, Tampa, St Pete, Orlando, Port Charlotte. Naples to name a few. Please look at our list on bottom of the home page. We do not purchase or appraise out of state.

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Where can I Look Mine up and What do they Mean

Today, silver’s applications in the world are beyond measure. But silver is not an inexhaustible resource. In recent years, mines have been unable to meet the current demand. To keep pace with the constant fluctuations of the supply and demand of the silver market, ‘old’ silver gets melted down and used again. This ‘old’ silver is known as scrap metal, but doesn’t necessarily equate to worthless. Markings on antique silver dictate its value. You may be asking where can I look mine up and what do they mean?

Determining your Silver Markings Value

Some antique silver marks make the pieces or sets invaluable to collectors. Some of the most highly sought after markings are rare in nature and can bring thousands to tens of thousands of dollars at an auction. Other markings may be more common, with less of a demand in the collector’s world. However, the demand for scrap silver may be higher and bring a higher payout. Here are the three main applications of silver in today’s global economy that influences the demand and value of scrap silver pieces:

stamp on a common vase

1. Industry. Silver is used in many ways due to its unique properties of being a durable and efficient conductor as well as corrosion resistant. It is commonly used in batteries, automobiles, switch panels, elevator buttons, traffic controls on railways, radiography and more to improve operations and make day to day living much of what we know it to be.

2. Investments. Silver is added to many portfolios as a way to diversify investments and capitalize on its enduring value as a precious metal. It can be invested in many ways, including tangible bullion, medallions and coins you can keep with you or by enrolling in accumulation plans based on stock values or trust accounts. Or, it may be the piece you have in possession today, when appraised by an expert, will prove to be a valuable asset as an investment.

3. Jewelry and Décor. Silver jewelry is one of the oldest ways silver has been used and will continue to be so as the chemical compounds seem to be suited perfectly. Craftsmanship is elegantly displayed and easy to showcase. It is also used in fine photography, your home’s insulation and even solar panel cells to reduce the carbon footprint of our generation.

As you can see, determining your silver markings value depends on a multitude of factors, not just the value established by a collector… although that can be the most important one.

Where Can I Find the Markings

Markings are mostly found on the underside or back side of the pieces so as to preserve the aesthetic quality of the craftsmanship. They may be found at the base of sculptures and candelabras or the handles of spoons and the back of platters. Coins may or may not have markings. Some are stamped with marks to denote sterling, but fraudulent markings are common with coins.

stamp on a spoon

What do They Mean

The truth is that there are over 12,000 different silver markings. They all tell unique historical details that a professional collector and dealer will be able to tell you what they mean and what value they hold. Having your piece inspected will help you to determine the worth of your silver piece according to the market and what it is worth to you personally.

Three Famous Antique Silver Makers/Smith

Craftsmen specialize in a trade. They work for many years to perfect their skill and develop their own personal style. Throughout history some craftsmen or craftswomen stand out from the crowd and become famous. The most legendary of silver smiths are Paul Storr, Hester Bateman, and Paul de Lamerie. They had set themselves apart; commissioned to create pieces for some of the wealthiest in history. As a result, their works are still some of the most highly sought after for antique silver buyers and collectors. If you have one of their sterling silver pieces, you have a high value item rooted in a rich history.

Who Was Paul Storr?

Paul Storr was a protégé. He began his apprenticeship at age 14. Most apprentices are bound to their masters for years, often until the age of 21. At that time, Storr entered a partnership, but quickly began marking with his own personal stamp using his own initials when he was just 21 years old. He was best known for his commemorative pieces and they were always embellished lavishly.

paul storr

During the late 18th Century until his death in 1844, Paul Storr was an accomplished English silversmith who was commissioned by many of the aristocratic society, even King George III. There are around 500 known works of his still around today and each one of them highly prized. To give you a good idea of what his works are actually worth, an unaltered tureen, which is a pot used for serving soup, can go for $70,000 at auction.

Who Was Hester Bateman?

Hester Bateman was also an English silver smith. Her career was from 1761 to 1790. She inherited the precious metal working business from her deceased gold smith husband, but she had great talent herself. And she successfully kept the family company going strong with the help of her sons, grandsons, and even great-grandsons! Unlike most men who would learn their trade through apprenticeship, Bateman learned by watching her husband. Her skill allowed her to be commissioned by many of the large firms in the area, but given that she was a woman and her reputation was spreading fast, they often stamped over her maker’s mark for many of her early years.

Hester Bateman

The last 10 years of her 30 year career proved her identity as a Master Silver Smith and that no one could keep her simply elegant style covered up. There are an estimated 11,000 pieces that were crafted during her career. Most of them she designed and priced with the middle class in mind, something not many silversmiths were doing during that time.

Who Was Paul de Lamerie?

Another one of the English silversmith greats, de Lamerie had an earlier start. Some say he is the “greatest silversmith of the 18th Century”. He came from the Huguenot family, precious metal workers from France who fled to London where Paul got his start. In 1712, he established his own shop. He is known for his exquisitely lavish attention to detail and a personal, intricate version of the French Rococo style.

Paul de Lamerie

His maker’s mark is probably the most highly sought after in antique silver markings. One of his tureens is priced retail right now at $335,000.

If you have a silver piece, you need to know its value. An antique silver dealer will be able to evaluate your item and most importantly tell you if it is antique silver 925. They are able to provide you with the rich history of your piece(s) and conduct appraisals. Even if your item does not carry one of these three silversmith marks, you may still have a very valuable item.

Antique Silver Hallmarks

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.

antique image

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.

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 favorite 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 item.

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 or Silver Plated: 3 Simple Tests!

Whether you are interested in buying a silver flatware set or looking to sell that old Antique silver tea set you never use, learning how to tell the difference between Sterling Silver or Silver plated items can be a great asset to you from getting the most money for your items to building a fine collection in your home.

Generally speaking, most silver pieces are embossed with a stamp or marker of some kind, but in some cases – such as with silver flatware, where every piece may not be marked – you’ll have to do a little detective work.

Here are a couple tips you can use to identify whether or not you are dealing with a piece of Sterling of Plated silver:

Silver Markings or “Hallmarks”

Surely, the simplest way to determine the grade of your silver is to look for silver markings left by the manufacturer. One of the most common markings is the imprint of the numbers “.925” (900 and 800 are also common). This indicates that your piece is 92.5% pure silver. Silver is often blended with 7.5% copper alloy. This gives the silver more strength than 100% pure, or /fine /silver.

Hallmarks

However, there are many different types of silver markers from, simply “Sterling” to various emblems or symbols used by specific manufacturers of precious silver items around the world which are helpful in identifying the year, country of origin, and rarity of the piece.

The Magnet Test

This is another fairly common way to test the purity of your silver – although I do not recommend using this method
alone. Silver is a non-ferrous material, meaning that it is not magnetic. For this test, the best tool to use is a rare-earth magnet which is also stronger than most magnets and won’t lose strength over time.

silver magnetic test

The Acid Test

This is an effective test, however if you are dealing with a piece that you think may be particularly valuable, you may want to try other methods of testing you silver first, as this may damage your silver slightly.

You can purchase a Silver Acid Test on many places online or at a jeweller’s store.

So, if there are no silver markings, it’s time to get down to work. You’ll want to put on a pair of appropriate gloves as this is a corrosive acid test, which can burn skin if you’re not careful.

You’ll need to make a small scratch somewhere inconspicuous with a metal file. This is to get to the underlying metal that is being tested. You’re trying to get beyond any silver plated layer.

acid test

Note: Alternatively to scratching your silver, you can also use a black stone plate (often included with Silver Acid Test kits. You can rub your silver on the plate so that it leaves a thick and fairly large deposit of silver on the stone. About one to one half of an inch thick.

Next apply the acid to the scratched area (or deposit on the plate). Your kit should include a color scale. You want to
identify the color change that occurs. This will determine the purity of the silver that the acid has come into contact with.

Generally speaking, you’re looking for:

Green (500)
Brown (800)
Darker Red (925)
Bright Red (Fine Silver)

Take care not to get acid on the non-scratched portion of your antique silver as this can tarnish the shine! Good luck with your testing! When in doubt, it’s always a great idea to consult a professional.

You can check out this video to know more about The Acid Test for silver markings: