I’m so excited to have found this forum. I’ve just purchased a large home full of antiques (historic bed and breakfast) and among them are some silver plate pieces (to the best of my knowledge but I’m researching). DH and I are looking to collect silver instead for use in the home when we entertain and of course as decor. I have MUCH to learn!! And am glad to have found this wonderful forum. I anticipate reading hours and hours of threads but before I do…I wanted to ask one simple (maybe) question about a piece I picked up at the goodwill…
I’d call it a compote. Yes I’ll post pics but need to read in debth about how to do so, but my question is simpler than that hopefully…it has an impressed mark in the base between the three feet (centered almost) that reads 1854. The piece is silver, not plate (at least I’m guessing that because it’s worn in the inside and it’s silver colored, not copper or gold). But aside from the numbers I don’t see any other hallmarks to lead me on a quest…unless I’m not looking in the right place. I see nothing on the inside, under the feet nor on the base aside from those numbers. Can you help this silly new collector at all or do you need to see it as well to give me more information? I don’t care about the value…I think it’s pretty and we tend to collect only the things we love but I’d like to learn as we collect.
I don’t expect we’ll collect from the goodwill LOL (unless I’m lucky) but also don’t want to start spending real money until we learn more.
Thanks so much!!
Hi there Igloochic and thanks for joining us. Start with the notion that we all knew zero about silver at one time and learning about silver is half the fun. As a general rule, if the piece is not marked as solid silver - either with the UK hallmarks or the words/figures “sterling” or “925” it is not silver but plated or some other metal such as pewter. Because solid silver is much more valuable than plated wares the makers of it were very proud of it and almost always marked their solid silver goods as such. On the other hand, many makers of silver plated items went to elaborate ends to devise fancy looking marks that implied solid silver but stopped just sort of outright lies…mostly.
Your compote is almost certainly silverplate or another metal, not solid silver based upon the lack of a silver mark. The number is probably a pattern or model number which is very common on both silver and silver plated goods.
So as a basic rule of thumb, “if it ain’t marked silver, it ain’t”. The marks on American silver are usually on the bottom of holloware and the back of flatware. The proper term for these American marks are “maker’s marks” vs. the marks on English silver which are called “hallmarks” after the Guild Halls or unions of silversmiths of yore. English marks are frequently found on the front of items, not hidden away like American marks. There are many other grades or degrees of purity of silver made in other countries, such as 800 silver in much of Europe.
A close up, clear picture of the marks is always the best bet for us to help you identify a piece.
Thank you so much for the information…and I did get a magnifier on it and found a faint “sil…plate” so yes I’m learning (I learned as a youth that if it didn’t have a gold tint to worn areas it was silver…but not so much correct obviously LOL) .
All of the silver is out in the water tower which is now infested with wasps so I’ll have to hold off on pics until they have met their smoky end (this week I hope!!!) I do know there are a few pieces with actual hallmarks (Lions etc) so it will be fun to share them and learn more. I’ve put DH on the learning curve for ship art…his collection for the smoking parlor) and I’m in charge of silver heh heh
Thank you so much for your lovely and diplomatic answer I’ll be an eager learner from now on!!! This is a wonderful format for an education that ya’ll should be proud of!
My Great Grandma came from Sweden in late 1800’s. My aunt always told me she brought a few silver pieces from home with her. I have 2 so far #1 is a small sterling silver footed sugar bowl–comes up to have a flat edge that has enamel narrow band of flowers all the way around the edge and the edge is flat across as it relates to the surface but waves up and down. I would love to locate a matching creamer. The spoon I was told forever that goes with it has little star-like cut outs-my aunt said you put sugar in the spoon bowl and then moved it back and forth over your coffee or tea in a sifting motion. Has anyone ever heard of this? I love the sweet little pattern and would love to find more like this # 2 I might call a compote or a shallow footed fruit holder. It has a swing up handle that is very ornate the bottom markings say-- top to bottom "SWEDEN a scaled (balanced) is below what looks like “B Company” and finally it looks like 1803 is stamped at the bottom. Where Can I find more information if no one here can help? What is it called is it Plated. Both are in wonderful shape. I just retired and would like to find my “passion” Thanks, Pam
Pam - thanks for joining us. We have folks worldwide that visit here with a collective knowledge that is amazingly deep. Post up some pictures of your pieces - be sure to show close ups of the marks - and let’s see what we can find out.