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J. W, Tufts trying to identify type and date

I have a set of chambersticks that have been passed along in my family since at least my great grandparents. On the bottom it says " J. W. Tufts." and then under that “Boston.” and has a mark coming out each side of the “s” diagonally. There are periods after the “Boston” and after “Tufts” as shown above.

There is a model type number “3503” between the two holes

Below the bottom hole is another number, I assume the item or serial number, one is “8” and the other is “30”

I have searched all over the web but can only find silver-plated items by J.W. Tufts, but they all have a mark.
My pieces have no diamond mark and no additional wording or lettering.

I guess my question is, does that mean my pieces are older? Possibly sterling? Any information about identifying my pieces would be appreciated.


Hi there and thanks for joining us. James W. Tufts started his business in 1875 in Boston and the company ceased operations by 1915. It made silverplated goods, and was famous for elaborate soda fountains. Mr. Tufts turned over the operation of his business to others in 1895 due to poor health and bought 5,000 acres in the sandhills of North Carolina, where he founded the resort town of Pinehurst. He died there in 1902.

Your item is silverplated, not sterling. The mark you show is one of four that Tufts used and dates from the late 1800s.


Uncle Vic

Thank you for your reply, and not to be argumentative, but I had already read the bio you included in your answer and have seen many of his marks.

I have seen many sites that list examples of his marks but have yet to see one like mine. Here is a site that exhibits five such marks: … RKSTZ.html

none of which look like the one on my items which do not include the words plate or plated nor does mine have any sort of diamond shape. The one shone that does not include the diamond shape still has “Triple Plate” and the name and city are in different type and lay out.

Would you be able to tell me where you were able to find an item or image of an item that is marked like mine?

Thank you so much for your assistance.

Sure - the exact image of the mark you show is in a photo on page 257 of Dorothy Rainwater’s Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers, 5th Ed.

Sterling silver was very expensive in the United States compared to wages and the standard of living in the mid to late 1800s. Electro plating of copper and other base metals with a thin layer of silver came into common use in that same time frame, and allowed the look of silver at a very low price vs. solid silver. Therefore, makers of solid sterling silver items almost always marked them as such with the words “sterling silver”, “sterling” or “925/1000” to distinguish them from the cheap plated items. On the other hand, many makers of cheap plated items did not mark them as plate with the “EPNS” or some other disclosure that the item was plated. They tried to fool you with silence, so to speak.

The bottom line is that those that made solid silver stuff were real proud of it and always marked it as such.


Uncle Vic

That was very helpful. Thank you so much for your time. I can see how this could easily become an addicitive hobby, it is so fun to learn about each individual piece and creator.