|Let's Talk Silver
Here's a few things you need to
know about collecting antique silver...... with TIPS, TRICKS, and valuable
ADVICE on collecting silver and antique silver collectibles.
- First, AGE alone in appraisal of silver collectibles is not enough to warrant value! A good piece of silver should represent the era in
which it was made.
- Silver is weighed by pennyweight and is weighed on a special silver scale. Twenty-four grains is equivalent to one pennyweight, 20
pennyweights are equivalent to a Troy ounce. Fourteen Troy ounces or 280 pennyweights make one pound of silver. it is accepted
by many silver collectors that the greater the weight of the silver, the more valuable it is. The heavier the silver piece, the better it will
be at withstanding repeated polishing and will be less susceptible to damage from accidental falls. But, it is important to note that if the collectible is mostly silver or silverplate because
silverplate is usually heavier than pure silver.
- If a silver piece looks and polishes like silver but is marked EPNS, it is NOT silver! Instead, it is Electro-Plated-Nickel-Silver.
- Although it is common for many American silver collectibles to bear only a maker's mark, don't assume it is American made. The
mark could very likely be that of a Scottish maker or even by an English silversmith whose shop was of a considerable distance from
the assay office. But, in the case of American silver pieces, the silver hallmarks MUST match the book of hallmarks exactly in order
for the silver item to be accurately attributed.
- Here's an easy trick to determine if your silver collectible has been previously repaired. Lightly breathe on the suspected repair
spot. A repair will be revealed by a pale, frosted look to the area. Soldered repairs are the most common form of silver repair and are
identifiable by a brown stain around joints and hinges, but these stains may be difficult to see on a tarnished piece.
- Don't think that since your antique silver piece is made of metals it won't be worth anything. That may have been the case in years
past, but mixed silver collectibles are certainly valuable today.
- In collecting antique silver, look for exceptionally bright or shiny areas or a smeared look to the surface. This is usually evidence that
the surface was previously engraved and has been polished out, devaluing the silver substantially.
- Engraved dates on silver most often represent commemorative occasions, such as anniversaries or birthdates, and should not be
considered dates of manufacture to determine age.
- The age of a particular silver collectible is determined first by the shape of the piece. Collectors should consider the patina, the
weight, and certainly the overall condition of the piece. Research design charts to compare the styles of decoration used. Consider
inscriptions or names that may be indicators of its origin. And, of course, the hallmarks are important and valuable in
determining the age and maker.
- Antique silver collectors will pay a premium for pieces from the seventeenth and eighteenth century that have been handed down
from one generation to the next within the same family.
- According to some top appraisers the best method of determining a hallmark is to hold the hallmarked area of the silver a few
inches above a burning candle, just enough to allow the candle soot to darken the hallmark. By pressing the sticky side of a piece of
Scotch tape over the blackened mark, and then carefully removing it, when the tape is then pressed against a white piece of paper, a
perfect reproduction of the hallmark will be revealed.