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Collecting Silver

 

 

Collecting antique silver can be personally rewarding as well as offering you the opportunity to collect items of value to enhance your home.  Before we get to a few tips to help you start; below are a few interesting facts about silver.

"The allure of silver has endured since civilization began.  It is second only to gold as a precious metal. Silver has a long history. It has been mined for over 5,000 years. The Greeks minted the drachma; the Romans the denarius; and the British their English shilling (sterling). Alexander the Great had an elite guard on which he bestowed silver shields. Imagine the opposing army facing those shields on a sunny day. The Lavrion Silver mine in ancient Greece provided funds for the Athenians.  The funds helped them defeat the Persians and build the Acropolis and other monuments. In the Medieval period through the seventeenth century spoons were a personal item and presented at baptism.  Horn, pewter, brass, and silver were used to craft spoons.  Normally, only wealthy families presented silver spoons at birth.  People took their spoons to banquets (none were provided) so your station in life was revealed by your spoon.  There really is meaning behind that old saying "Born with a silver spoon in your mouth".

Silver's great strengths include reflectivity, malleability and ductility.  Silver reflects a high percentage of light that falls on it.  Photographing silver for Internet listings can be a challenge!  Malleability and ductility refer to the ability to shape and mold.  These two characteristics have made it a favorite for craftsman through the centuries.  Their creativity is almost unlimited when working with silver.  Silver is also an excellent heat conductor.  One additional interesting note: bacteria cannot survive on silver.  Some early surgical instruments were crafted of silver; therefore, these items are highly collectible.

I have customers that collect a wide range of items. Vesta cases, snuff boxes, nutmeg graters, tea caddies, tea caddy spoons, master salts, candlesticks, card cases, wine/spirit labels, servers (asparagus, tomato, etc.), christening cups, trophy cups, napkin ring holders, timbales, and more."  (article by Deborah Hartsook)

Here are a few tips to consider if you decide to collect. 

1- Choose a specific type of object that interests you.  Will you use it for your table and entertaining?  Or will be be part of your interior design plan? 

2- Decide on your budget

3- Choose an era that you find interesting such as Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian, Louis XV, or others.

4- Or pick a manufacturer or silversmith such as; Tiffany, Gorham, Whiing, Puiforcat, the Batemans. 

5- As with all works of art condition and rarity of the items will affect prices of antique silver.  

6- Start to research and read about silver hallmarks.   There are several on-line sites to help with silver hallmarks and identification.