How can you tell if silver spoons are old?
Silver is a precious metal, and for many people, it has long been expensive. Historically, people have tried to keep track of where the silversmith obtained his silver from so they could buy more of it later on.
Certain silver pieces are valuable as collectibles because individual manufacturers often used their own “hallmarks” (stamps symbolizing the manufacturer’s name and location) for identification purposes.
Fortunately, there are some basic guidelines you can use to judge whether or not your silver spoons and other utensils might be worth something special:
Before 1820 – Silver was extremely expensive. Therefore, only the wealthy could afford to have a silver tea set.
For this reason, tea sets made before 1820 are a good indicator that a particular silver item is valuable.
After 1825 – The process for extracting silver from lead ore, combined with large-scale production in Mexico and South America, led to lower prices for sterling spoons and other utensils throughout the 1800s.
In fact, by 1920, sterling silver was at its lowest price in history.
Knowing this helps you narrow down your search even further so you know which pieces might be more valuable than others. You should still check hallmarks because makers started marking items manufactured after 1868 (during Queen Victoria’s reign), but not necessarily before then.
Quality in silver is always indicated by weight, not age. Pure silver is too soft to be used in many ways. So it’s alloyed with other metals. Sterling silver must contain at least 92.5 percent pure silver (sterling) and often more than 7.5 percent copper for strength, plus additional alloy metals, such as nickel or palladium.
If you have sterling spoons that are stamped “coin,” “coin silver,” or “standard” rather than just “sterling,” they may only be worth the value of their scrap metal content.
Some makers did not stamp items with their name until after World War I, so beware of anything stamped pre-1900 that does not contain a maker’s mark.
Since silver is a very soft metal, most antique spoons have been well-used and will show wear. Scratches or wear on items can lower their value considerably.
Exceptions are where the use of a particular piece has increased its value through usage over time, such as with some antique flatware patterns.
Sterling silver spoons were often used as status symbols because they were one of the few things that indicated a person’s wealth. The more sterling silver pieces you have to sell, the better your chances of finding someone who wants to buy them from you for cash!
Are old silver spoons worth anything?
Most old sterling silver flatware patterns are considered vintage antiques and carry substantial collector interest and value.
A very collectible pattern is Tiffany, by the world-renowned silversmiths of New York City.
An average set of Tiffany silverware sold on an Internet auction site recently for around $1,000. Other popular antique patterns are Pickard (also from New York), Lunt (from Chicago), and Oneida (from Oneida, N.Y.)
Antique silver spoons often sell at auction for hundreds of dollars apiece if they are in good condition, depending on age and maker’s mark. Even older sterling flatware can be valuable if it was made by a famous company or decorated with intricate designs.
The silver content in your spoon sets will always be worth something.
How can you tell if a silver spoon is antique?
A silver spoon may be antique if it has a hallmark. The content of the handle will be marked with specific symbols that represent the purity of the metal, and there may also be letters or numbers.
The earliest hallmarks were used by medieval monasteries in England during the 12th century.
These marks allowed them to send their silver alloys so they could assess whether or not they were receiving what had been agreed upon for their purchase. When examining the quality of silver, if it contains less than 10% copper, it can be considered sterling silver, which is defined as purer than other types of silver.
It is also important to note that most pieces made before 1800 will have at least 92.5% silver (sterling), whereas today, silver is required to be at least 75% pure.
The symbols used in the handle of a spoon can vary. But they generally follow these guidelines: if the mark contains two back-to-back “S” letters, it means it was manufactured in Sheffield, England during 1884 or after.
If there are three-legged crescents with “C” between them, this indicates that it has been made on commission by a company named Harrison Brothers and Co.
And lastly, marks that contain standing lions and walking lion passes indicate that it was manufactured in 2002 or later.
Also, some date codes might be on silver spoons as well as on the top of your handle. You might see a letter A, B, or C with the subsequent numbers below it, which indicates that the silver was made in 1918, 1928, 1939, respectively.
Alternatively, you might find some hallmarks on your spoon together with some symbols such as diamonds or triangles, which are used to represent companies who have bought the right to mark their items with the sterling standard quality.
When checking for hallmarks, if there is no sign of any value mentioned on your spoon handle, then it would generally mean that from around the 1800s.
So each country had its system of hallmarks designating the content and purity of metal alloy inside, which will aid in finding out more precisely when your silverware was made.
As a general guide, hallmarked spoons from the UK were not produced before 1738. But in most cases were imported from Europe.
However, some English silver marks date back to medieval times, and they might show a town or city name with a letter denoting a specific assay office.
These types of marks date between 1300-1696. Marks that indicate when your spoon was made can also be found on various other items such as tea sets and fine dining service.
To check if your piece is authentic, you can find out more about where it came from by asking around.
Alternatively, you can try consulting experts in antique silverware for an accurate estimate so you can determine whether it’s worth investing money in taking it to an antique dealer.