What We Purchase in Antique Silver? Guide to Collecting Antique Silver Pieces
Silverware sets are complete sets of cutlery, often including serving pieces. The most valuable are made with sterling silver, and provide a service for eight or twelve. Traditionally, they were kept and used only for formal dinners, holidays or special events. These are quite collectable and we are always buying silverware sets.
Theses are the everyday sets of utensils, and may or may not include additional serving pieces. The designs are simpler than sterling silverware, and the material is mixed metals.
Ladles were generally part of a silverware service set, but often these pieces are found separately. Though not worth nearly as much as when they are part of a set, individually ladles are collectible and might be valuable depending on the pattern.
Costume jewelry was created to decorate fashion clothes, otherwise known as ‘costumes’ in the 1920s and 1930s. They didn’t feature precious stones, but inexpensive semiprecious stones or colored glass in silver or gold. Vintage costume jewelry is valuable to collectors and may be sold for profit today.
Designed to accent a beautifully set table, centerpieces may include candlestick sets, candelabras, vases or other decorative pieces. Silver centerpieces are often very intricate, and may be valuable.
PLATES OR BOWLS
Silver plates were often used as chargers (plates used as an accent under the actual dinner plate) or as service plates. Service plates are more valuable, and might include pieces such as service plates, fish plates, dessert plates, or fruit saucers. Silver serving bowls were also used to present food, and may be in a range of sizes. Both are more collectible when more intricate and decorative.
Used traditionally to add height and a warm atmosphere to formal tables, candlesticks were made in pairs so that one could be placed on each side of a centerpiece vase. Sometimes, candlesticks were also used in sets on a mantel. The ones by well-known silversmiths are more valuable.
A candelabra is a candlestick with two or more arms which branch out. Throughout history, candelabras were designed from various metals as it is sturdy and flexible. These can be more collectible than candlestick sets, and potentially worth more if you are selling them.
Sterling silver trays were used in wealthy homes, and luxury inns and hotels. Many have raised galleries, as well as handles and short feet for sturdiness. They may be designed in a variety of shapes but are traditionally oval or rectangular in form.
Decorative silver jugs have always been a popular decorating option as they are so versatile and may also be used to hold flowers or other items. Many different types of jugs have been designed, and there is a wide range of value on these pieces.
Vases come in all shapes and sizes and are still commonly used today. Like jugs, many different designs were created, and there is a corresponding difference in value. Like other silver pieces, vases made by popular silversmiths tend to be worth more when selling.
Similar to jugs, but used only for beverage storage traditionally. While ceramic pitchers were used for wash stands as a set with a bowl, silver pitchers were not. Pitchers tend to be about as collectible as vases, though value can vary.
Coin collecting has always been popular, and remains so today. Silver coins, especially fine sterling silver, are often quite valuable depending on weight, age, rarity, and condition (uncirculated, mint, excellent, good, fair).
Comprised of at least a tea pot, creamer and sugar bowl, theses sets also may include a tray or tea even a tea strainer. Silver tea sets remain quite popular with collectors and therefore valuable at resale. A knowledgeable dealer can assess maker and pattern to ensure your set is properly valued.
Similar to tea sets, a coffee set is a collection of accouterments for coffee service. A serving pot, creamer and sugar bowl are the common pieces. Additional collectible items include grinders and percolators, although they are generally not included in a set but rather are considered separate pieces.
Silver frames are still considered collectible, and some less than scrupulous dealers try to buy painings and prints for their value alone without also assessing and paying for the frame. Ensure that you take your pieces to a professional who will value the frame separately from the painting in it.
All tableware including soup tureens, hot food covers, water jugs, platters, or even tea and coffee items that is not flatware. Designed to last, hollowware is considered a higher quality than regular silver-plated pieces as it has thicker walls and additional layers of the silver-plate.
From brushes and mirror sets, to perfume bottles and powder compacts, silver vanity items have been well-loved for many years. Intricate designs set the best apart, but many of these are still collectible and have a good range of value.
Like scrap gold, scrap silver can be high in value but differs from even day to day based upon current market price. A reputable antique dealer will ensure none of your pieces are worth more as antiques instead of scrap, and will let you know the current market value.
While silver-plate is not valued as highly as sterling silver, well made pieces with good marks may be quite collectible. Many antiques were made in silver-plate and these pieces might be resold for a good sum.
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