Black, Starr & Frost lamp base?

Hello! I hope this is the right area to post in- I am new here! I have this very strange large object I am hoping to find out more about- what it is, when it was made, and of course, what it might be worth! :slight_smile:
I think it is a lamp base, based on the size (14 inches tall) and shape of it, and the fact that there is a hole at the bottom for wiring (unless it is for some other purpose entirely of course!).
It is clearly marked BLACK, STARR & FROST, and also STERLING 14 IN, and also has an eagle shaped mark and what I think are the numbers 596- please see pictures! It is very heavy, 47.5 oz, and very ornate. The base and rim are covered in roses and swirls.
I am attaching 2 photos, or trying to (as a newbie please bear with me if I make technical errors!), and would love ANY input!!!
Thanks in advance!

hallmarks (resized image).jpg
Full length lamp (resized image).jpg

Hi there and thanks for joining us. It appears to be a vase. I have seen several like it both by that maker and others of the same period (1890s, early 1900s). The hole is a mystery unless it was added later to make a lamp. Does the inside of the rim show any signs of a lamp fixture having been attached?. Another possiblility is its a “dry vase” used for dried flowers and was never intended to be wather tight.

As to value, check the “completed auctions” on eBay for similar vases by Black, Starr and other US makers such as Gorham, Mauser, etc. for a value range.


Uncle Vic

Thank you so much! I will!

Rhody - you are quite welcome. On further reflection, perhaps the hole had a cork in it to allow draining the water out of the vase without removing the cut flowers so the water could be changed? You can find such corks at most any hardware store. It is really a beautiful piece. My wife & I own several similar vases by American makers and we sometimes wish ours had a drain & cork. I’m sure you will find the value of yours in the several thousand dollar range.

And it is perfectly fine to polish it up. You may want to get a horsehair silversmith’s brush to gently scrub the fine detail work using a mild liquid silver polish. Hagerty makes a very nice little brush with a wooden handle that sells here in the U.S. at many antique shops for about $10-12 and is a good investment. I usually gently wash my silver in warm, soapy water (liquid dishwashing detergent is fine) then pat dry before polishing, then do the same afterwards, using the brush in the soapy water to get the polish residue out of the nooks & crannies of the fine work.

A very nice old piece of American silver you will be proud to display.


Uncle Vic

Oh, that is so clever about the cork- I have been really puzzled by this piece! There are what look to be some kind of grooves or scrapes or something on the inside, that’s what made me wonder if it was meant to be (or had been turned into) a lamp at some point, but it’s hard to see. Once I polish it, it will be easier to tell!
Also, thank you for the tips about polishing it- I think today will be a day full of washing and polishing things!
On another piece, I am a little nervous to polish because it has bone or ivory (?) bits on the handle of the teapot/coffee pot or whatever it is, at the top and the bottom of the handle (heat resistors maybe?) and I was worried about getting polish on the bone parts- have you had that happen? Is it ok?
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the information and advice- I am, obviously, a TOTAL newbie at this- I only ever collected pottery before, and have suddenly acquired a bunch of (to me) mysterious silver things that I have no idea what they are or how to care for them, or if even if they have collector value beyond the metal value. I mean, a silver citrus juicer is an odd thing to me! :wink: I did order a bunch of books from my library, but they all seem old and perhaps not up to date, so finding this site has been great for me!
I think most of it is American, but some pieces seem to be English and one even came up as Tane Mexican, so I have a lot to look forward to and to learn!
Thank you again so much. I will order that little brush! :smiley:

Rhody - those little white gizmos are “insulators” to keep the heat from the liquid in the pot from getting the isolated part of the handle too hot to touch. On older, better quality silver they are usually ivory. It will not hurt them to get polish on them or to get them wet, but do be very, very gentle with them, as its a really big deal to replace them if they break or are missing.

You came to the right place for help with silver. The moderators and readers all do this as a labor of love and treat everyone with the utmost respect - there is no such thing as a dumb question since we all started out as “newbies”.


Uncle Vic

Uncle Vic, I have to thank you again!

I think I will see how the rest of the polishing goes before taking on that teapot with the bone bits- I did try to look that one up, and the marks indicate that it is sterling Gorham “From the Last Quarter of the 19th C”, if a site called 925-1000 can be believed, so would that make it probably ivory? It is such a cute little set- I really want to be sure not to damage it.

Another totally random (and please, if I am being a pest or if I am in the wrong forum, please let me know) question I had is about engraving. A couple of the pieces I have now have engraving on them, and I was wondering if it is possible to take them somewhere and have the engravings buffed off or something? One is a lovely sterling tray with a monogram (unfortunately, not my initials! :wink: ) and the other is a quite large sterling revere bowl engraved with the words MANHATTAN OPEN, and then the names of the winners of this mystery event from 1972, 1973, and 1974 - and that’s it! I can’t find anything about the event, so doubt it would be of interest to whoever held such a thing, but of course, I would never use it or feel happy displaying it with that on it- unless that makes it more interesting? maybe? Any advice about what to do about that kind of issue?

And one last question before I feel too guilty to type- is there any value at all in silverplated items? There’s a lattice work basket, that seems to be (if I am reading the markings correctly) Gorham 1920 Electroplated, and I am just not sure if I should put in time researching that kind of thing at all or if I should just go ahead and use it to hold bananas or something! :wink: If things like that are interesting to collect as well, I would love to know if I have even more fun stuff to look up, or if I am looking at a big yard sale or very elaborate banana bowls lol! :wink:
Again, my sincere thanks!


You are quite welcome, again. The website is excellent and we here use it often. They continue to add material frequently and it is perhaps one of the better resources. You will find that here we like for you to post a clear, crisp, close-up photo of the maker’s marks as well as a photo of the entire item. This allows us to better identify not only the maker, but in many cases date the items and determine its silver content. English silver, of course, has “hallmarks” that are part of an ages-old legal system of assaying silver. These hallmarks allow not only identification of the maker, but the purity (92.5%), place assayed and the date. Most all American silver has no date marks. It is illegal in the U.S. to mark an item “sterling silver” if it is not at least 92.5% pure silver.

My view is that engraving enhances the appearance and value of sterling silver. Engraving is fast becoming a lost art - and silver is art, including the engraving. I would never, never attempt to remove well-done engraving from a sterling item. Others do not agree with me and I have seen some very nice sterling pieces virtually destroyed by inept removal attempts. In the resale market I see no value difference in most sterling items between thse artfully engraved and those without any engraving. Most of the very flowing and fancy monograms you can’t read anyway, so just pretend they are your initials…

Finally, most silver plated items have little or no commercial value and my view is they should just be put to daily use, enjoyed, and polished carefully as needed.


Uncle Vic

Hello Rhody, just an fyi I am NOT a silver expert. However my guess on the Manhattan Open piece, could possibly be the Manhattan Open Chess Tournament. If you provided the names on the cup I might be able to confirm that for you. If so you have what I am guessing because of the engraving a one of a kind piece.

Very nice pieces you have!

Wow, thank you Shootmore!
The engraving on the bowl reads:

and then over to the side,
1972 B.P. DUDASH

That would be so neat if that is the Chess Tournament! The bowl itself is a classic Revere bowl shape, 10 inches in diameter, marked Sterling FINA.
I am trying to attach pics, but I need to work on applying the tips from the photographing silver forum! :wink:

I googled the names, and actually found a living B.P. Dudash in Pennsylvania, but I’m just not sure what the ettiquette about this would be? I don’t know if, should one find or acquire an item that is traceable like that, is there any kind of social obligation to let the person whose name is on the thing know that it is out there and give them a chance to buy it back? It just seems sad that someone would have sold something that either they or someone in their family would have been so proud to win! There’s another bowl with a similar situation, only that one is smaller, and plated, but it is for NEWPORT WOMAN OF THE YEAR 1973, Honored by the Maj. WM. Taggart Chapter of the D.A.R. - who would let such a thing go? :frowning:

Again, my sincere thanks for all replies and suggestions!

Uncle Vic, I had a blast polishing up a bunch of the plated stuff last night, and now my daughter has some very flashy looking plated bowls holding her baby supplies- adorable! :slight_smile:

With gratitude,
names on bowl resized.jpg
manhattan open resized.jpg

Not the Manhattan Open Chess Tournament. The first Manhattan Open was held in 1973. I don’t recognize any of those names as past winners.

Good luck in the search for what it is. Thats half the fun of having something marked!


Thanks for checking, Shootmore!
I tried to phone the B.P. Dudash in Pennsylvania this morning, but was told he rarely goes into the office, and the best way to contact would be to write, so I think I might try that- it does feel weird and vaguely stalkerish though, but I would really love to know what the heck the Manhattan Open was! :wink:

ETA I wrote, and if Mr. Dudash replies (of course I included a SASE) I’ll be sure to let you know what this Manhattan Open was! :slight_smile: