What do the marks mean and how much is it worth?

I have a sterling heater box and curling tongs to match. The box is 6 1/4" long x 2 1/4" high x 2 1/4" wide closed. It has a gold looking button on the front that you push and it pops open. Inside along the back is a compartment where the tongs fold and are stored. In front of the compartment is a place for oil and the cloth wicks to burn and two stands that pop up to put the tongs on to heat the iron. It has 3 symbols at the top of the base that I beleive are the markings for the Gorham corp. of Providence RI. they are a lion facing the left, an anchor and what looks like a fancy letter G. to the right side of the base is the number 20. To the left side of the base I can barely make out what looks like a tiny circle with an arrow pointing upwards and bottom center of the base says the word STERLING. The tongs have the marks as well as the word sterling and the number 20 around the end of where the silver meets the iron. It needs to be cleaned, but I don’t know how. I have been told not to unless I know how or I may damage it. It has been used, it’s odvious. I found it at an estate sale under alot of clothes in a box ion the attic. The lady said I could have the box of clothes for free and when I got home it was in there underneath everything. On the outside it has flowers and leaves all over and in the middle is monogrammed with what looks like a T or an L then A F and the year 1894. I want to know what anyone can tell me about this piece and its value. also could someone tell me how to put pictures on? I tried, but it won’t let me.

I’m sorry the lion is facing the right, his tail is on the left.

Hi there and thanks for joining us. Yes indeed, you have some Gorham sterling silver there, and the “tiny circle with the arrow pointing upstairs” is their date mark for…1894! Perfect match with the monogram date. The number “20” is probably the pattern or model number.

Its hard to peg a value without seeing the box and tongs. Old American sterling boxes are in high demand and I’d think $100 would be a minimum starting point, perhaps several times that.

By the way, your description of the marks was spot on!


Uncle Vic

Thanks, I was trying to get a picture on here and I’ve got to be doing something wrong. I’ll figure it out eventually. I looked up the marks and thought they resembled the Gorham marks, I just had to make sure because I know nothing about silver anything. The handles to the tongs are silver and clean, the curling part looks like steel. The box is really heavy and bigger than any I’ve seen online. The others fold open and the stand is in the lid and burner in the bottom of the box. This one has everything in the bottom of the box. The whole inside has a gold tint to it. The outside has the look of unclean silver. The dark coal color with some silver shining through. I guess when I am able to link a picture you will see.
I have another question, I see that this company does mostly flatware and tea sets, but I can’t find anything on this type of stuff. Was it custom made for someone? Did this company do things like that? If so, do you think there may be a way to find out who it belonged to through the company? Thanks for helping me. gg

gg - Gorham made - and still does to this day - fine sterling holloware and flatware. In my view the “golden age” of American sterling was in the 1890-1910 time frame and Gorham was a leader in American silver during that time.

You should polish the box and tongs using a liquid or cream silver polish such as Wright’s or Goddard. Or if you are willing to go to some trouble and buy online, the best silver polish by far that I have found is “Miracle Silver Polish and Tarnish Barrier” from Atlanta Silver & Antiques. www.atlantasilver.com Wash it first in warm soapy water then pat it dry. Use a liberal amount of the polish on a small rag or sponge (I use a swatch of the fake chamois from an auto parts store) to gently scrub the tarnish off. A silversmith’s brush - horsehair bristles - costs about $10 and is very useful for getting in the fancy parts. Wash the piece gently in warm soapy water again after using the silver polish and pat dry, then let air dry and buff gently with a soft cloth, turning it frequently. If you used the Miracle, you should not wash it after the final application as it has a tarnish inhimibor that seems to work. If it is badly tarnished, you may have to polish it several times to get the desired result.

The gold tint is called “gold washing” and is a very thin plating of gold over the silver, and wears off very easily. Gold washing was popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s but is out of favor now. Some folks actually pay to have it buffed off.

Your box and tongs were probably a stock model and not custom made. Yours does not seem to bear the mark of a retailer such as a department store or jeweller, so identifying the source would be near impossible, as would tracking down the ower of the monogram.


Uncle Vic

Thank you very much for all your information and time. GG