Antique tableware, particularly spoons, has been a popular collectable for decades. Spoons often commemorated a special occasion such as a baby's birth, a christening or an anniversary. Many popular tourist sites made souvenir spoons that are very collectable today.
Antique spoons are not usually made from stainless steel, but from other metals such as silver, silver plate or pewter, and often have hallmarks or other marks on them. Unmarked spoons are difficult to identify. However, extensive mark guides and documented antique examples are available to help you estimate the value of a marked spoon.
Take clear, detailed pictures of the spoon with a digital camera. Download the photos to your computer, save the digital images, and print copies for your records.
Take measurements of the spoon and mark them down on a notepad. Note any writing or special design features.
Use a magnifying glass to check for any hallmarks or maker's marks on the back of the spoon. Record those on your notepad. Also note any other marks such as pattern name, country or serial numbers.
Use a hallmark guide to find a matching hallmark that indicates the spoon's metal content (see Resources). Record any information you find on your notepad, and add any further details such as possible date of manufacture or country of origin.
Look up the name and design for a souvenir spoon in an souvenir spoon guide such as SouvenirSpoons.com (see Resources). Record any relevant information on your notepad.
Look up the silver spoons you have identified in a recent edition silverware guide such as Warman's sterling silver guide to find prices and more information (see References).
Check online auction sites such as eBay for a similar spoon with the same hallmark or manufacturer to get an idea of its possible value.
Contact an appraiser who specialises in antique spoons to find out the value of an unmarked spoon, or a spoon that you cannot value yourself. Bring or send all your notes and digital pictures to the appraiser to provide as much information as possible.
Contact a silver collector's club to ask for a reputable silverware appraiser in your area.
Do not attempt to polish an antique spoon before getting expert advice.