Old Spoon Dug Up


I dug up an old spoon from under a large tree root about 6 " deep. It is is bad shape finish-wise and there is a lot of violet colouring on it now. The back side of the spoon says Chester Plate. There doesn’t appear to be any design on the top of the spoon. It is a plain handle with a squarish crown type shape at the top. What else do you need to help me out with identifying it? I was detecting near the Halifax Harbour in an area know to have been inhabited by Indians until the Halifax Explosion in 1917. Thanks for your help.

Phil Johnson

Well, perhaps an easy one to sort out. First, if the only mark is “Chester Plate” it is almost certainly silver plate and not sterling. Second clue is that sterling never tarnishes, even under severe conditons, to a violet hue. On the other hand, silver plate most always goes to the violet hue when severly tarnished. The reason is that the thin electroplated silver coating on plated items is 100% pure silver vs. the 92.5% alloy of silver and copper that is sterling. The pure silver turns violet when tarnishing vs. the sterling alloy that turns black.

Since it appears you found the spoon with a metal detector, and I also hunt for stuff with one, try this test: lay out a known sterling item, say a spoon, on good bare ground, then lay your found item next to it a good distance away. Turn the gain control on the metal detector up to just detect the sterling item, then scan the dug-up spoon. Silver plated items will produce a much higher signal return than the sterling.

Finally, if still in doubt, take an “as found” picture, then polish your spoon up with any good silver polish and post it up with a good “as polished” picture showing the marks…

Thanks for asking here - we all have treasures in our cupboards in our silver, and with the price of silver now running $US 11.50 a troy oz. many of us are getting giddy with the values.

Uncle Vic