I’m looking to restore a family heirloom. It’s an inkwell which was presented to my great grandfather, and has an inscription. It’s by Elkington & Co.
It’s a silver ink well with two glass bulbs. These are set into silver bases, and have a silver lid on top. The bulbs are then set into a silver stand for a desk set.
One bulb is largely intact, but broken from its base. The other is completely broken, with a large portion missing. The bulbs are etched or engraved with a pattern. The glass portion is about 3 inches tall, and just over 2 inches at the widest diameter of the bulb. The silver needs a good clean.
What value would you put on the item? As a family heirloom, it obviously has more than monetary value and we’re not looking to sell it. It would, however, be useful to have a rough guide to value.
Please find attached some photographs of the inkwell.
I would appreciate any assistance you might be able to provide.
David J. B. Hollis
The marks in your first picture indicate that this is not sterling silver as these are Elkington’s electroplate marks. The G shows it was made in 1869 so it has some value purely from a historical point of view. Unfortunately the broken and missing parts then devalue it considerably. I would suggest a very rough valuation of £20-£40, but this is a personal opinion and others might have a different idea. I am also assuming, as you thought it was solid silver, that there is no plate loss.
Thank you for a prompt response and your comments.
As to assuming it’s solid silver, firstly, I was confused by another site and secondly I didn’t think silver plate could be inscribed. There’s no noticeable plate loss, but it does need a good clean! Is there any danger of ‘cleaning away the plate’?
I appreciate it’s worth nothing broken. What I was hoping for was an idea of how much it might be worth restored. I can then determine how much to reasonably spend on restoration.
Fully restored my guess would be £150-£200.
With electroplate there is always the danger of cleaning too far and getting to the base metal. The problem is that the tarnish you are cleaning off includes some of the silver from the plating. In addition, if there is too much abrasive in the polish, that too will remove some of the silver. So the answer is to clean gently and not too frequently.