Dating english silverware

This standard -- 92.5 parts pure silver to 7.5 parts copper alloy, which strengthens the softer silver -- was established by the English during the 12th century and later adopted by most of the silver-making world, including the United States in 1868Many people think of coin as much less valuable than sterling, but it has only about 2 percent less silver and, in some cases, may even contain more.

Because of its age and beauty, a piece made from coin can sometimes be worth more than American sterling.

Antique silver hallmarks have been used to control the quality of goods made of silver since the 14th century and the organisation that regulates the craft, Goldsmiths Hall, gave the world the term hallmark.

This is to ensure it is of the required sterling silver standard and, provided it conforms to a standard, a series of symbols are stamped into each part of the item.

Use this guide to discover some of the favorite spots where those in the know go online.

You will learn to understand and research silver origins, craftsmen, and manufacturers using hallmarks, along with a few online value guides to help you with that daunting task as well.

Sometimes the shapes of serving utensils didn’t tell you much about their use.

A 19th-century sardine fork might reasonably be mistaken for a miniature lawn rake, while the cake servers from that era often look like hair combs.

The first step in deciphering these marks is to learn what kinds of silver are out there.

This is a list of American silver marks and solid American silver. Ornate capital letters or the fleur-de-lis were used in France.

Other lists include silver-plated wares and pewter. Four or five small pictorial marks usually indicate England as the country of origin. Become familiar with the English king or queen’s head mark as an indication of age. Silver was stamped with a lion for London, a thistle for Edinburgh. A hand indicates Antwerp, a spread eagle Germany or Russia.

To further muddle matters, companies such as American silver giant Reed & Barton made the same patterns in both silver plate and sterling silver, which, again, makes dating a particular piece of flatware difficult.

For collectors, the functionality of a piece of flatware is sometimes the most important consideration, especially if that functionality is archaic or obsolete. Aspic slicers were designed exclusively for calves-foot jelly, cucumber and tomato-slice servers resembled tiny slotted hand mirrors, spinach forks had three wide-spaced tines to spear mounds of boiled spinach, and leaf-shaped ice cream ladles were meant to be used with a matching, dull knife—little wonder this combo was replaced by the ice cream scoop.

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Some of the oldest American silver is coin, which contains an amount of the precious metal that was set by the U. Mint for coinage after the American Revolution: Coin made from 1792 to 1837 is composed of at least 89.2 percent silver and, thereafter, 90 percent.

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