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Silver Collector Forums

The best American silversmiths?

Among the better-known silversmiths and manufacturers, how is Tiffany considered, in terms of workmanship? Very good? Pretty good? Only average? Given their range over both time and items offered, is their quality even consistent enough to rank?

Expanding a bit, could anyone hazard a ranking of the larger-production American makers from the past 100-150 years (e.g. Oneida, Gorham, Tiffany, Wallace, etc.)?

I’m not a collector as such, but I love the look of silver, of the metal itself, and have a bit inherited from my mother (Jensen Acorn flatware, in particular).

Thanks in advance.

Hi Frank, and thanks for joining us. Whatever pleases your eye is the best. My views: The golden age of American silver is from about 1880 to 1910 with 1895 to 1900 being the peak of quality and style - to my eye.

Tiffany is one of the top makers by far, but most of their stuff just does not appeal to me at all…but on the current market anything Tiffany goes for an arm & a leg. My favorite American maker by far is Mauser of New York, in business from 1887 to 1903. Mauser made a lot of different flatware and holloware patterns and virtually all of it was unique and of the highest quality. It is getting harder and harder to find…my wife says that’s because I own most of it…

Other American makers that I consider top notch are the old Gorham (pre-1920), Dominick & Haff, just about any of the Baltimore makers (Stieff would be at the top), and Theodore B. Starr of New York. There are dozens more that produced top quality goods along with some not-so-good stuff.

One of the almost-lost arts is engraving on silver. Many folks consider monograms or personalized engraving as a detriment to an old silver item, but again, my eye is just the opposite - I view fancy engraving as an art form that enhances the beauty and value of the silver.

In any event, Frank, thanks for allowing me the opportunity to share my highly biased views with you and our other readers.


Uncle Vic

Thanks for replying, Uncle Vic, I really appreciate it and appreciate all the information you’ve provided. You’ve given me some names to look for.