Are you beginning the process of building your silverware collection? Or perhaps you inherited a large cabinet full of heirloom cutlery from your family. Do you believe you should consider the antique silverware’s value rather than using it to eat cereal?
If you answered a yes to any of these queries, now is the time to learn how to recognize antique silverware when you see it as well as its value as well as the value of your silver set and antique silverware.
However, in order to engage in this, you must be able to identify real silver, which can only be done if you are familiar with the different kinds of silver that are employed in the manufacture of silverware. You can do this with the help of this article.
What is Silverware?
Anything that is made of, plated with, or even just resembles silver is referred to as silverware. Most Western countries utilize it, as well as some regions of Asia and Africa. Plates and decorative objects like candlesticks can also be included in addition to cutlery. However, it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that individuals outside of the upper classes were able to purchase it.
The use of silver for cutlery dates back to Ancient Roman times. Since actual silverware was formerly considered a tremendous luxury, even though we may take these conveniences for granted now, there are still many people who appreciate the beauty and elegance that such artifacts have today.
Then why is it known as silverware?
Flatware was frequently crafted from silver, that’s why got the name “silverware.” Long after using stone and bone-made tools became obsolete, people started creating more advanced implements out of wood, shells, and eventually metals like bronze, iron, and steel. Silver was first used for kitchenware by the Romans when they arrived.
History of Antique Silverware
A brief history of silver and silverware can be used to investigate the special properties that have allowed silver to perform a variety of important functions over time.
Silver between 7th Century BC to 5th Century AD
Silver in the Medieval Period between 5th to 15th Century
Silversmithing at its Finest between 16thto 18th Century
The Rise of silver Industry between mid-18th19th Century
Silver in the Late 19thand early 20th Century
Manufacturing of Silver between 20thand 21st Century
Popular Silverware Patterns of Sterling
A few silver flatware styles stand out for their popularity among the hundreds of distinct designs that have been produced over time. The top five sterling patterns that are well-liked by collectors, according to Replacements, Ltd., are as follows:
Wallace Rose Point
Designed in 1934, Rose Point is a complex perforated pattern that was inspired by bridal veils. It has a lot of shine and goes well with both elaborate china patterns and plain, contemporary dinnerware.
In 1895, this straightforward, fluttering Art Nouveau design was initially made available. It is a perennially popular option since the gentle curving lines look lovely on minimalist tables.
A simple design may also be ageless, as this tapered mid-century style from 1939 demonstrates. This vintage flatware style blends well with china from any historical period because it doesn’t appear to be from any one era.
Wallace Grande Baroque
This elaborate pierced design was first released in 1941 and has subsequently gained popularity. It retains its worth well, and adding to your set or finding replacement pieces is simple.
Old Master is a lavish pattern with flowers and scrolls that was first released in 1942. It quickly became a classic, eschewing the straightforward mid-century designs that are still in demand today.
Different Types of Silver Used in Silverware
The two primary silver alloys used in the manufacture of flatware are sterling silver and silver plating. You must first be able to distinguish each piece of silverware if you want to buy authentic cutlery.
Genuine silver is the term typically used to describe antique sterling silver, which is quite expensive. Antique sterling silverware is not entirely made of pure silver due to the malleability of pure silver. Instead, to strengthen it, silver is mixed with copper.
Due to the silver kind, it is too delicate to stand on its own. 92.5% pure silver and 0.75% copper make up sterling silver. It can be identified by etchings or imprints that indicate 925, STER, sterling or 92.5%.
Silver plate or flatware are other names for this. It could initially seem to be sterling silver, but upon closer scrutiny, it is different and has less value than sterling silver flatware.
By electroplating nickel silver, silver-plated objects are produced. This indicates that nickel is commonly used as the flatware’s base metal, and a thin covering of pure silver is subsequently applied to the surface.
How to Find Value of your Antique Silverware?
Silver is a priceless metal that is also worth something as scrap. Occasionally, the intrinsic value of the silver is more than the cost of the item. Many contemporary items may not have retained their value, but high-quality antiques should be worth more than their scrap metal value. The stages involved in figuring out how much your silverware is valuable are as follows:
Check for Hallmark or Imprints
One thing is definite about real sterling silver: it has the manufacturer’s mark. If you want to know if something is sterling silver, look for etchings on the handles or the edges (for spoons, forks, knives).
Sterling silver with a high silver content is considered to be genuine when it has markings like 925, 925/1000, Sterling, STER, S/S, or Sterling 925. The silverware is most likely plated if none of these indications are present.
Cleaning or Buffing Out
The authenticity of silverware can also be determined by carefully cleaning it with a delicate white cloth. The silver’s oxides should have left a black mark on the white fabric if the silverware is genuine. On the other hand, plated silver won’t smear the fabric.
When real silver comes into touch with oxygen, it tarnishes as a result of a chemical reaction. Silver plating, however, sticks to the base metal and leaves no trace.
The Color, Wear, And Tear
Silverware that has been colored, worn, and tarnished typically has a glossier finish than actual sterling silver. Silver in sterling silver is less shiny yet appears more glossy.
Checking closely for flaking, fading, greening, or rusting spots will also help you distinguish between the two. The only silverware that can rust, fade, or turn green over time is silver-plated flatware.
Silverware that is real sterling silver costs a lot more than silverware that is plated. Plated flatware has a poor value after use because the silver plating is so thin that it cannot be recycled.
The value of antique silverware rises when it is made of genuine sterling silver, which also raises the price at which it may be sold.
An Acid Test
Although silverware that is being sold cannot be subjected to this test, you can use it to check whether silver that you already own is genuine. Experts should be used to verify the silver’s genuineness.
Applying nitric acid to silverware is how the acid test is carried out. Green light will be emitted from the base metal if the silverware is fake (nickel). Because silver contains nitrate, nitric acid will turn it into a creamy white tint if it is real silver.
Run this test on a hidden area, and make sure to. Nitric acid will permanently alter the color of the cutlery.
18 Most Valuable Sterling Silver Flatware
Here is the list of 19 most valuable sterling silver flatware:
1. 89 PIECE GORHAM Etruscan 1913 Pattern Sterling Silver Flatware Service Set of 12 sold for $3,188.00
2. Vintage 1847 Rogers Bros Silverware, First Love Set plus $100.00
3. Antique French Sterling Silver Gold Vermeil 3pc Flatware Cutlery Gift Set, Musical Instruments Motif, Henin & Cie Grand Cru
4. Vintage PUIFORCAT French Silver (.800/1000) Dessert or Entremet Set, Original Box worth $1,646
5. English George V sterling silver canteen of cutlery (1932) $25,603
6. Antique French Sterling Silver 18K – 22K Gold Vermeil & Pearl Knife Set $1,496.25
7. Antique Pompadour Birks Sterling Silver Carving Fork, Knife, and Sharpener $42.00
8. LUNT STERLING SILVER FLATWARE 84 PC. SERVICE FOR 12 DELACOURT PATTERN + SERVING $2,299.00
9. RARE STERLING SILVER QUEENS PATTERN FRUIT SPOONS & FORKS SET 1932 CASED $327.08
10. Chateau Rose Pattern by Alvin Sterling Silver Flatware 28 pcs $553.00
11. Roden Bros. Birks Sterling Silver Tea Strainer $49.55
12. 59 pc Easterling Horizon Pattern Sterling Silver Flatware $1,330.00
13. Birks London Engraved Pattern Sterling Silver flatware for 12 – 130 pc. $4,199.00
14. Rare Gorham Sterling Silver Flatware Set Melrose Pattern 44 Pieces $1,175.00
15. Silver Soup Tureen, Germany, Hanau Circa 1850 sold for $4,018.82
16. Silver Condiment Set sold for 2,940.60
17. 40 Piece Set of Towle STERLING SILVER Flatware LAFAYETTE Pattern 2100 gr. (MRZ) sold for $1000
18. Georg Jensen Sterling Silver Blossom Lg. Oval Tray 2E sold for $5,377.00
Identification of Valuable Antique Silverware
Silver is a precious metal by nature. The value of fine antique silverware sets, however, is substantially higher. When identifying the antique silverware worth of a flatware set, several different factors are taken into account.
The condition of your silverware as a whole must also be taken into account. These pieces are old, so they will inevitably exhibit some wear over time, but with routine maintenance, they can still look good.
This is why it is typically advised to clean your priceless cutlery thoroughly and routinely to prevent damage and decrease its value. The ancient silverware’s markings or designs can be seen more clearly after cleaning.
Additionally, keep in mind that drying them after washing them inhibits rust, helping to maintain the value of your sterling silver. Avoid silver that has been engraved with personal information or that has been changed. Most likely, an appraiser won’t even give them a second glance.
Even a unique piece of old sterling silver flatware in bad condition must be examined before sale.
The most important factor for identifying value of a silver set is the rarity of the silverware. It simply seems sense that fewer individuals, especially collectors, would want something the more popular it is. Because everyone wants them, rare, precious metals are incredibly expensive.
When coupled with a strong provenance, the rarity element attracts collectors of antiques like moths to light. An object’s provenance is its recorded history of ownership and origin. Your silverware’s worth is markedly increased.
Inspect the ivory handles
You can choose between ivory, plastic, or bone for the handles of your sterling silver flatware. Always the most precious flatware is sterling silver with ivory handles. It might be necessary to take a very close look at the handle of your sterling silver flatware in order to determine its composition.
One of the certain ways to estimate the worth of silver flatware is by looking at the hallmarks. These are stamps applied to items made of gold, silver, or platinum by British assay offices to confirm their standard of purity, according to the Oxford Dictionary.
In more recent times, hallmarks have been employed to identify the producer as well as the location of the particular assay agency that guaranteed the purity of the silver. This indicates that silver is now also identified by hallmarks.
Each country’s silver flatware received a hallmark as a result of the advancements made. Silverware buyers and sellers who have a passion for these precious metals should be able to decipher hallmarks.
Silverware Hallmarks Identification
An alloy of copper, nickel, and frequently zinc is called nickel silver. It typically contains 60% copper, 20% nickel, and 20% zinc. Silverware made from this alloy was stamped with the initials EPNS (or E.P.N.S.) in the UK and the USA, standing for electroplated nickel silver.
“BP” stands for Britannia plate.
The Britannia Metal used in the UK and the USA was electroplated and labelled EPBM or E.P.B.M. It included 5% antimony, 2% copper, and 93% tin.
Electro-plated is referred to as EP.
Genuine sterling silver’s value is significantly influenced by its craftsmanship. Consider the antique serving flatware set from Sheffield that is displayed below. This ancient silver from the 19th century is very sought-after due to how uncommon it is.
Its maker, Isaac Ellis, made it with materials like metal, paper, and wood. It is a lovely traditional item with an intricately carved and pierced floral and scroll pattern.
The handles, which are made of bone, offer a beautiful knobby appearance. What amazing details are visible afar.
Old silverware is worth more because of the skill and labor that went into crafting it than because of its size. It is crucial to emphasize that this is not always the case because the size of a piece of antique silver is frequently mistaken for its quality.
But despite how elegant or well-designed it may be, poorly made flatware lacks quality, thus this illusion needs to be dispelled.
Check out the pattern
Your antique sterling silver flatware’s engravings play a significant role in establishing its market value. Some patterns are exceedingly prevalent and, as a result, draw little attention. The most valuable flatware is sterling silver with rare patterns.
If you have antique sterling silver flatware with initials or monograms engraved on it and you think it is priceless, it is, regrettably, anything but that. Such flatware is still fairly valuable, but because there are no buyers or collectors in the market, their worth is steadily declining.
Acquire a Professional Appraisal to identify your Antique Silverware
Another way to precisely estimate the value of your antique cutlery is to have it appraised. A qualified appraiser will use their educated eye to estimate the correct market worth of your cutlery, just like they would with any antique.
The most crucial technique for estimating the worth of antique silverware that has been handed down through the ages is this one. Having your costly cutlery properly assessed is the best method to secure it because insurance companies need accurate evidence to cover antiques.
Guidelines for Collection of Silverwares
The following guidelines should be kept in mind if you’re starting a collection of a specific vintage flatware pattern or a group of patterns.
- No need to restrict yourself to a single pattern. Many collectors decide to purchase one piece or a place setting from each of their favorite beautiful antique flatware designs because there are so many of them. Elegant and distinctive describe this type of mixed set.
- For both sterling and silverplate, condition is key. If you’re thinking about purchasing a sterling piece, be sure the pattern is distinct and not overly polished. Make sure there is no base metal visible through the silver layer if you are collecting silverplate.
- Concentrating on an era or theme is an additional common choice. While some collectors prefer the straightforward, geometric motifs of the Art Deco era, others adore the elaborate floral patterns of the Art Nouveau era. Another well-liked area of collecting is figural silver patterns, which feature people and animals.
- Make sure your piece is genuinely made of sterling silver if you collect sterling. The best way to prevent buying a phony item is to buy something that is plainly marked.
- Additionally, you can only gather one kind of item. Some collectors decide to concentrate on serving pieces like sugar shells, sardine forks, sauce ladles, or spoons. This is a fantastic approach to obtain many lovely patterns.
Where to Buy & Sell Antique Silverware?
Searching online is your best option if you need to find one immediately. Consider the following sites:
- e-Bay– The Antique Silverwares can be easily found on eBay, one of the greatest sites to find beautiful Antique collectibles. It’s also ideal if you’re considering selling because they provide a very user-friendly e-commerce feature and can reach a sizable global audience.
- Etsy– Since people frequently discover these different Vintage Silverwares in their grandparents’ homes across the nation, internet marketplaces like Etsy are among the greatest places to find a ton of these pieces on sale.
- Other Auction sites– you can also check different auction sites such as morphyauction, liveauctioners and other for finding the value of your antique silverware.
Your favorite antique silverware can be worth more than you think. With the help of the supplied advice, you may estimate how valuable silverware is and decide if it should be maintained in the family for varying purposes or auctioned.
If you wish to protect your expensive silver, you must also provide the insurance company the appraisal records from a qualified appraiser.
Another method to estimate the value of your flatware is to look at the silver weight. This element is clear because your silver must be weighed in order for the evaluation to proceed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best way to store silverware that is older?
To stop tarnish, encircle silverware with camphor or anti-tarnish paper. Silver reacts negatively to high humidity, so the relative humidity in the space should be moderate. Wrap your treasures in acid-free tissue paper or undyed fabric if you don’t have weather controlled storage.
What does that sign on some silverware mean?
“International Silver” is what the IS on your silver stands for company. This company specialized in and was noted for producing silver-plated crockery. Consequently, what you have is probably plated silver rather than sterling silver.
What properties should I search for in vintage silverware?
The following factors should be taken into account when handling silver: design, gauge, weight, quality, color, patina, date, and creator. One of the most crucial things to consider when purchasing silver is condition.
How can I determine whether my silverware is worth anything?
The most valuable silver has a silver marking, often known as a hallmark or stamp; sterling silver. The style of these markings will vary depending on where your silver was produced. The following are typical marks on silver produced in the US: Silver content in sterling is 92.5%.
We have shared 19 most valuable antique silverware in this article. Using this guide to recognizing and assessing antique silverwares, you can determine their market value regardless of the circumstances. But if you want to completely appreciate the worth and value of your vintage silverware, we strongly recommended that you go see a competent appraiser.