Collecting and owning antique silver tea sets can be valuable and rewarding. Learning about silver tea set maker marks and hallmarks is an educational journey into history. Once the hallmarks on the items are identified, you will have an idea of what your silver tea set is valued at. For more valuable tea sets, you may want to consider professional appraisals.
Look for areas on the silver tea set pieces that have stamped marks, words or symbols.
Look for different pieces of the silver tea set that have additional marks on them. Set aside the pieces that have stamped marks, words or symbols. If all pieces of the silver tea set have the same marks, words or symbols, you will not need to use each one, so choose only the pieces that look like they have the clearest stamped marks, words or symbols on them, or added and unusual markings that the other pieces do not have.
Wipe the areas marked on the silver tea set pieces using the jeweller's polishing cloth. This will help to uncover any marks or symbols hidden due to tarnish.
Hold the first piece of the silver tea set you are trying to identify in one hand, and hold either the jeweller's loupe or magnifying glass in the other.
Make notes about the kinds of symbols, words and marks you see on the silver tea set piece. If possible, draw a diagram.
Consult silver tea set value and identification guide books if you have any, or look at silver hallmark identification websites. Compare and contrast the silver marks and stamps from the silver tea set pieces that you wrote down on the paper to those that are in the identification guides or websites.
Photograph the hallmarks, symbols and stamps of the silver tea set pieces that you have. Try to get clear, close-up photos. If you are unable to locate the specific markings in reference guides or websites, try uploading pictures and asking questions online. It is a good idea to save copies of those photos for insurance purposes.
Fake stamps do exist. It is advisable you get an education in the distinct types of silver and silver plate if you plan to invest a large amount of time or money in collecting silver tea sets. If a tea set is marked "silver" or "sterling," it might be only heavily plated. The only way to test that item may be to saw into it, which would ruin the antique and aesthetic value. Consult expert antiques dealers and appraisers if you feel you have an extremely valuable item worth insuring or appraising.