That’s right Bethany, it never hurts to ask. A couple of basic rules of thumb that may help you when looking for American silver: First, if its solid sterling silver (92.5% silver) it will almost always have the word(s) “sterling”, “sterling silver”, or “925/1000 FINE”) stamped on it. Second, prior to about 1850-60 most American solid silver was “coin” silver, yes, made from melted down coins and was typically 90% silver and would bear the word “coin” or sometimes the number(s) “9” or “900”. Both coin and sterling were in use from the mid-1800s until about 1890 when sterling became dominant.
Finally, English sterling silver - the 92.5% silver standard - will almost never have the word “sterling” on it. The English legal system uses - to this day - a stamp called the “lion passant” which is the profile of a lion facing left with its right paw raised. That means “sterling” in UK-Speak.
Sterling silver from other countries amy use the word “sterling” or the number “925”. Now for the tricky part: Silver makers from the US, the UK, and other counries went to elaborate lengths to use “pusedo marks” to try and pass silver plate off as solid sterling silver. They usd fancy names such as “Quad Plate”, “A1” etc, but quite often they just put no purity marks whatsoever. In the US and the UK it is illegal to mark silver as sterling when it is not, but tricky pseudo marks are used to this day. Be careful, and if you are in doubt, we will be happy to take a look at your finds here.
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