People collect all types of antique silverware, from individual pieces of flatware to whole sets. Genuine antique silver is marked with symbols and numerals from the maker; the symbol being their trademark and the numeral representing the number in a series. Sterling silver made after 1906 will be marked .925. Antique silverware made before 1906, is identifiable by the maker's mark in general.
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Things you need
- Magnifying glass
To find antique silverware for your collection, look in reference books specialising in hallmarks or maker's marks, and look online at 925-1000.com. This website is a fantastic resource for examining antique silverware maker's marks up close, and you can get the most up-to-date information along with links on where to find the types of antique silverware mentioned.
Maker's marks are one way to find antique silverware, along with pattern. The pattern is the design on the piece itself. What kinds of patterns do you like on antique silverware? If you study patterns and styles, you will become more familiar with the type of flatware desired if the maker's mark is damaged on an antique piece. Some marks tend to get damaged from the wear and tear of daily usage, especially on antique cutlery flatware.
Pictorial maker's marks were anything non-numeral, and generally depicting a powerful symbol that stood for virility, stability or leadership, such as the male lion and crown mark on E.G. Webster & Son, the horse mark on Friedman Silver Co. or the anchor pictorial mark on antique Gorham silverware. Look at your antique silverware to see if you have a pictorial mark, combined with a maker's initial. Some of the most detailed antique sterling flatware will have both, such as Tiffany. Check out the Silversmiths link in resources for a listing of over 5,000 silversmiths and their pictorial marks from various centuries.
Initial maker's marks are solely initials, minus the figural pictorial maker's marks. Sometimes the initial may be part of the pattern as well, particularly on the end of cutlery, and various serving utensils.
Some marks are not on actual antique silver. For instance, Alpacca is the actual name of the alloy used to make silver, not a maker's mark. This might confuse a beginning collector thinking Alpacca is silver or the name of an antique silver maker, when it's not.
Tips and warnings
- Look online first for the most current up-to-date resource websites for finding antique silverware. Library resource sections are a good place to study maker's marks too.
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