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Our information archive for Collectors, Appraisers and Researchers helps guide you to a knowledge of what you have and how to appraise. Spend some time here, learn about your antiques and collectibles and what they are worth.

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How should I care for my Sterling Silver flatware and holloware?

Daily use enhances the beauty of sterling silver, adding mellowness and depth of color, so no one should hesitate to use it all the time. The millions of tiny scratches on the surface that come with constant use give color or patina that adds to the finish. All silver should be washed as soon after  use as possible. Use ordinary caution so as not to crowd too many pieces close together. Wash in clear sudsy water and rinse thoroughly in clear hot water. It is important to dry each piece well even when washed in the automatic dishwasher. Should spots appear after the use of certain foods like eggs, salt and salad dressing, they may be easily eliminated with silver polish during the washing process.

About once a month should suffice for over-all polishing. Use a reliable polish free of grit, and a clean soft cloth. Lengthwise stroke on flatware produce the finest luster; on holloware, follow the contours or shape of the piece. Be sure to rotate the usage of all pieces so that all acquire the same patina. The ideal container for storing silver is a tightly closed chest that has individual places for each piece. Rolls for flatware and bags for holloware made of tarnish-resistant cloth are also good for sterling silver.

Be sure to keep chest well dusted and clean. Stray particles of salt in the case will cause the silver to tarnish and sometimes even to spot.

Sterling Silver : Table Placement

Table Placement: ( a few simple rules) All flat silver is laid in the order of use, starting with the piece farthest from the plate on each side. Knives are placed with the cutting edge towards the plate; forks with times pointing up; spoons hollow side up. 
Not more than three knives and forks (not counting the oyster fork and the butter spreader) may be laid at one place setting. Additional silver is placed when required. More often than not the cover does not require this amount of silver for the family and informal meal; the usual placing being knife, soup spoon and tea spoon placed at the right of the plate with the salad fork and dinner fork at the left. For the salad course and many entrees, the fork is all that is required, therefore, omit the corresponding knife. 
The oyster fork may be placed at the extreme right and parallel with the soup or bouillon spoon. The butter spreader is placed across the rim of the bread and butter plate with the handle to the right. 
At breakfast only the pieces needed are placed on the table following the above placement.
For luncheon only enough flat silver to carry through the salad course is laid with the settings. Dessert and coffee silver are provided with those courses. 

What is Chasing?

In the realm of metalworking, the technique known as "chasing" represents a pinnacle of artistic expression and skilled craftsmanship. This traditional method of decoration, executed by hand, utilizes an array of small tools and punches, which are methodically forced into the metal through gentle tappings by a hammer. The result is a textured, dimensional surface that brings metal to life with intricate designs, ranging from floral motifs to elaborate scrolls.

The Essence of Chasing

Chasing is more than mere decoration; it is a dialogue between the artisan and the material. Each tap of the hammer and imprint of the tool is a deliberate and controlled action, contributing to a larger pattern or imagery directly on the metal's surface. This technique allows for a high degree of detail and nuance, making each chased piece uniquely expressive. The versatility of chasing is evident in its application across various metals, including silver, gold, copper, and pewter, showcasing the adaptability of this method to different material properties.

Flat Chasing: A Specialized Form

A particular variation of this art form is known as "flat chasing." In this technique, designs are impressed into a flat metal surface, creating a subtle and elegant texture. Unlike its more dimensional counterpart, flat chasing emphasizes the precision and delicacy of line work, offering a more understated aesthetic. This form is especially popular for creating backgrounds that enhance the visibility of other relief elements or for adding intricate details to otherwise plain surfaces.

Chasing vs. Repoussé: Complementary Techniques

Often mentioned in conjunction with chasing is repoussé, a technique that involves shaping metal from the reverse side to create a raised design. While both techniques manipulate the metal surface to create decorative patterns, they are distinct in their approach and effect. Chasing refines and details the front of the workpiece, adding texture and depth without significantly altering the metal's thickness. In contrast, repoussé introduces a three-dimensional relief, bringing shapes and patterns to life in a more pronounced manner. Together, these techniques can be used in tandem to achieve remarkable feats of metal artistry, offering a rich palette of textures and effects.

Preserving Tradition in Contemporary Metalwork

Despite the advent of modern technologies in metalworking, the traditional practice of chasing holds a revered place in contemporary craftsmanship. Its persistence is a testament to the enduring appeal of handmade art and the irreplaceable touch of the artisan. Chasing, with its historical roots and timeless beauty, continues to inspire metal artists and craftsmen worldwide, bridging the past and present in the continuous flow of creative expression.

In conclusion, chasing is a profound expression of artistic mastery in metalwork, offering a direct connection to the rich traditions of metal artistry. Its continued practice and appreciation underscore the value of manual skills and the beauty of handcrafted detail in an increasingly mechanized world.

What is Trifle Pewter?

In the realm of metallurgy and historical craftsmanship, the composition and usage of pewter alloys present a fascinating narrative of innovation, adaptation, and the pursuit of quality. One such variant, known as Trifle Pewter, embodies a curious chapter in this narrative. Initially composed of sixty percent tin and forty percent lead, Trifle Pewter stands out for its distinctive properties and the specialized artisans associated with it, known as 'triflers.'

The Characteristics and Challenges of Trifle Pewter

Trifle Pewter, by its original composition, exhibited a darker coloration and a softer texture compared to the more refined grades of pewter. This inherent softness and the alloy's visual aesthetics differentiated it from its contemporaries, limiting its application in the wide array of pewter goods traditionally produced. The significant lead content, while contributing to the alloy's malleability, also presented challenges in terms of durability and workmanship.

Given these properties, Trifle Pewter's use was relatively short-lived in the historical timeline of pewter manufacturing. The alloy found its niche in the creation of specific items such as spoons, saltshakers, buttons, and other small articles. Notably, these were items that did not require the finishing processes afforded by lathe work, a common practice for higher-grade pewter products. This distinction underscores the adaptability of craftsmen in utilizing available materials to their utmost potential, even within the constraints posed by the material properties.

Innovation and Evolution: Towards a Superior Alloy

The narrative of Trifle Pewter does not end with its limitations but rather highlights a pivotal moment in material science and craftsmanship. Recognizing the alloy's shortcomings, particularly in terms of its softness and workability, metallurgists and artisans sought an improved formula. This pursuit of enhancement led to the development of a new alloy composition: 83 parts tin to 17 parts antimony.

This significant alteration not only addressed the challenges associated with the original Trifle Pewter but also expanded the possibilities for pewter craftsmanship. The inclusion of antimony increased the hardness and durability of the alloy, making it more suitable for a broader range of applications. This evolution marked a departure from the constraints of Trifle Pewter, allowing for the creation of more diverse and enduring pewter artifacts.

Legacy of the Triflers

The artisans known as 'triflers,' who specialized in working with Trifle Pewter, occupy a unique place in the annals of craftsmanship. Their ability to navigate the challenges of a less-than-ideal material speaks to the ingenuity and adaptability of craftsmen throughout history. Though the material they worked with was eventually surpassed by superior alloys, the triflers' contribution to the pewter craft provides valuable insights into the iterative nature of material innovation.


The story of Trifle Pewter is more than a footnote in the history of materials; it is a testament to the dynamic interplay between material properties, craftsmanship, and technological advancement. As we reflect on the evolution from Trifle Pewter to its enhanced successors, we are reminded of the relentless pursuit of quality and functionality that drives innovation. In this journey, the triflers and their alloy serve as a beacon of creativity and adaptability, principles that continue to inspire modern metallurgy and design.

What is Vermeil?

Vermeil, the art of gold plating over sterling silver, represents a storied chapter in the history of decorative arts. Originating in France during the mid-1700s, this technique was initially celebrated for its ability to combine the luster of gold with the affordability of silver. However, the traditional method of creating vermeil, which involved the use of mercury, led to significant health and environmental concerns. This blog post delves into the origins of vermeil, the reasons behind the ban on its production, and the modern techniques that have revitalized this cherished craft.

The Birth of Vermeil

The invention of vermeil in the 18th century France marked a significant advancement in the field of metalwork. Artisans discovered that by applying a thin layer of gold to sterling silver, they could create pieces that mirrored solid gold's visual appeal at a fraction of the cost. This innovation quickly gained popularity, bridging the gap between luxury and accessibility in the world of jewelry and decorative items.

The Ban on Mercury-Based Vermeil

Despite its initial success, the production of vermeil soon faced scrutiny. The process employed mercury amalgamation, a method where mercury was used to dissolve gold before it was applied to the silver base. This process not only posed severe risks to the craftsmen, who were exposed to toxic mercury vapors, but also to the environment. Recognizing these hazards, France took a proactive stance in the early 19th century by banning the mercury-based vermeil production, a decision that echoed the country's growing commitment to public health and safety.

The Modern Revival of Vermeil

The prohibition of mercury amalgamation could have spelled the end for vermeil. Instead, it paved the way for innovation. The modern revival of vermeil has been made possible through the adoption of the electrolytic process, a method that is both safe and efficient. This contemporary technique uses electricity to deposit a thin layer of gold onto a sterling silver item, eliminating the health and environmental risks associated with mercury use. Today's vermeil not only adheres to rigorous safety standards but also maintains the quality and beauty that first made the technique popular.


The history of vermeil is a testament to the resilience and adaptability of traditional crafts. From its inception in 18th century France to its modern-day revival, vermeil has undergone a significant transformation. The shift from mercury amalgamation to electrolytic gold plating has ensured the survival and flourishing of this technique, highlighting the importance of innovation in sustaining the legacy of traditional crafts. Present-day vermeil continues to enchant with its timeless beauty, serving as a bridge between the past and the future of decorative arts.

What is Gadrooning?

Gadrooning is a decorative motif that has graced the edges of tableware and various metalwork for centuries, embodying both aesthetic beauty and historical significance. This brief exploration delves into the essence of gadroon, tracing its origins and its enduring presence in the art of metalwork.

The Origins of Gadroon

Gadroon, often seen adorning the rims and feet of cups, plates, and other vessels, is characterized by its series of curved or straight lobes. Emerging in the late 17th century, this decorative technique quickly gained prominence, especially in silver and goldsmithing. The pattern, which can vary from simple smooth curves to intricate folded designs, was primarily used to add a touch of elegance and complexity to otherwise plain surfaces.

Gadroon in Art and Craftsmanship

The application of gadroon decoration is a testament to the artisan's skill and creativity. Its use extends beyond mere embellishment; it reflects the stylistic trends and cultural preferences of the period. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, gadrooning was indicative of the Baroque movement's love for ornate and dramatic details. As it evolved, it became a staple in various art and design periods, adapting to the changing tastes while maintaining its distinctive charm.

Legacy and Modern Interpretations

Today, gadroon remains a popular decorative technique, cherished for its historical depth and visual appeal. Modern craftsmen and designers continue to draw inspiration from this classic motif, incorporating it into contemporary works while respecting its traditional roots. Gadroon serves as a bridge between past and present, allowing us to appreciate the continuity and evolution of artistic expression through the ages.

What is holloware?

Holloware represents a fascinating category within the world of metalwork, encompassing a wide range of utilitarian and decorative items. This concise exploration delves into the essence of holloware, focusing on its definition, varieties, and particularly, the composition and use of pewter in holloware crafting.

Defining Holloware

Holloware broadly refers to articles crafted in the shape of hollow vessels. This term encapsulates a diverse array of items including, but not limited to, mugs, ewers, teapots, coffeepots, bowls, and pitchers. The category extends to encompass trays, waiters, and various plates, highlighting its versatility and utility in daily life and special occasions alike. The defining characteristic of holloware lies in its functional design, often balancing the practical with the aesthetically pleasing.

The Composition and Craft of Holloware Pewter

Pewter, an alloy primarily composed of tin, has been favored for centuries for its malleability and lustrous finish. Holloware pewter, with a traditional blend of eighty percent tin and twenty percent lead, has been a material of choice for creating teapots, tankards, coffee pots, and liquid measures. This specific alloy allows for the creation of durable, yet intricate pieces, showcasing the craftsman's skill in molding and detailing.

Modern Considerations and Legacy

Today, the concern for health and safety has led to a decline in the use of lead in pewter alloys, with modern pewter typically being lead-free. This shift underscores a broader trend towards safer materials without compromising the quality and beauty of holloware items. The legacy of holloware pewter, with its rich history and craftsmanship, continues to be celebrated in collections and use, bridging past and present through each meticulously crafted piece.

In sum, holloware encompasses a significant facet of decorative arts, embodying both function and form. Whether in the form of traditional pewter or modern adaptations, it remains a testament to the enduring appeal of crafted metalwork.

What is sterling silver?

Sterling silver, a term widely recognized and revered in the realm of precious metals, denotes a specific alloy composition that has been the benchmark of quality in silverware and jewelry. The Sterling Standard, established and mandated by the United States Government in the Stamping Act of 1906, guarantees that any item marked as "sterling" meets rigorous purity and craftsmanship criteria. This standard ensures that sterling silver consists of 925 parts per thousand of pure silver, with the remaining 75 parts per thousand comprising other metals, typically copper. The addition of copper imbues the silver alloy with the necessary strength and stiffness that pure silver lacks, making it ideal for the creation of a wide range of durable and exquisite items.

The Composition of Sterling Silver

The precise alloy mix of 925 parts pure silver to 75 parts copper or another metal has been meticulously chosen. Pure silver, while highly valued for its luster and workability, is too soft for most practical applications. The introduction of copper into the alloy significantly enhances its durability without detracting from the characteristic sheen that silver is known for. This careful balance allows for the creation of items that are both beautiful and functional, from intricate jewelry pieces to robust silverware.

Historical Significance and Assurance of Quality

The adoption of the sterling standard and its enforcement through the Stamping Act of 1906 marked a pivotal moment in the history of American silver craftsmanship. It provided consumers with a guarantee of quality, ensuring that items stamped with "sterling" adhered to this high standard of silver purity. Notably, the sterling mark has graced the works of renowned silversmiths in Baltimore between 1800 and 1814, and its use became widespread after 1860 in various regions. This historical context not only highlights the enduring prestige of sterling silver but also reflects its significance in American decorative arts and craftsmanship.


Sterling silver continues to be esteemed for its optimal blend of beauty and functionality. The sterling standard, a testament to the enduring value and quality of silver items, remains a key marker of excellence. Whether encountered in antique heirlooms or modern creations, sterling silver pieces represent a rich heritage of meticulous alloying practices and craftsmanship, assured by over a century of regulatory oversight and cultural appreciation.

What are sterling silver hallmarks and stampings?

The practice of stamping trademarks and stock numbers onto metalware is a historical method that provided information about the composition and origin of items, a system that was notably refined and utilized by the Meriden Britannia Company starting in 1867. This process not only helped in identifying the material from which an item was made but also in determining its manufacturing process and additional features, such as mounts or soldering. This intricate system of identification has played a crucial role in the world of collectibles and antiques, offering insights into the craftsmanship and era of production.

The System of Stamping

The Meriden Britannia Co., a pioneer in the production of metalware, developed a nuanced system for marking their products. They introduced the use of a cipher (a symbol or series of symbols) preceding a stock number on their nickel silver and silver-soldered holloware. By 1893, this system was further elaborated to differentiate items with white metal mounts by incorporating two ciphers as part of the stock number. For instance, a waiter featuring white metal mounts might bear the stamp "00256," instantly indicating its material composition and design features to those familiar with the coding system.

Implications and Importance

This method of stamping trademarks and stock numbers was not merely an internal tracking tool; it served as a valuable means of communication with consumers and collectors. It allowed for immediate recognition of the material quality and the specific features of holloware items, facilitating informed purchasing decisions. Furthermore, for historians and collectors, these marks provide essential clues for dating pieces, understanding their provenance, and assessing their authenticity.

Legacy and Modern Relevance

The legacy of this detailed stamping system extends beyond the operational history of the Meriden Britannia Company. Today, it aids collectors and experts in identifying and authenticating antique metalware, enriching our understanding of historical manufacturing techniques and aesthetic preferences. The practice underscores the importance of meticulous craftsmanship and the foresight in establishing standards that enhance the value and legacy of metalware collections. As such, the tradition of stamping trademarks and stock numbers remains a fascinating aspect of metalware production, bridging the past with the present in the realm of decorative arts.

What is Sheffield Plate?

Sheffield Plate, a significant innovation in the world of metallurgy and decorative arts, was developed in the mid-18th century by Thomas Boulsover of Sheffield, England. This process marked a turning point in the production of silverware, offering a cost-effective alternative to solid silver items. The technique involves fusing a thin sheet of silver to one or both sides of a thick sheet of copper, combining the aesthetic appeal of silver with the durability and strength of copper. This post delves into the origins, process, and legacy of true Sheffield Plate.

The Invention and Process

The invention of Sheffield Plate in 1743 by Boulsover was somewhat accidental, yet it quickly became a sought-after method for producing silverware. The process entailed applying intense heat to bond a sheet of silver to copper. Following the fusion, the composite metal was rolled to the desired thickness, ready for fabrication into various items. This innovative method allowed for the production of silverware that was indistinguishable from solid silver to the untrained eye, yet significantly more affordable.

Distinction from Electroplate

Sheffield Plate is often referred to as "old Sheffield Plate" to differentiate it from electroplated silver, a later invention that also sought to replicate the appearance of solid silver. While both methods offer alternatives to solid silver, Sheffield Plate is notable for its method of physical fusion, as opposed to the chemical deposition used in electroplating. This distinction is crucial for collectors and enthusiasts, as it speaks to the historical and material authenticity of Sheffield Plate items.

Legacy and Significance

The legacy of Sheffield Plate extends beyond its innovative manufacturing process; it represents a pivotal moment in the democratization of luxury items. By making silverware more accessible, Sheffield Plate played a role in the broader cultural shifts towards increased accessibility to luxury goods. Today, Sheffield Plate pieces are cherished by collectors not only for their beauty but also for their historical significance, embodying the ingenuity and craftsmanship of 18th-century England. As such, Sheffield Plate remains a celebrated chapter in the history of decorative arts, symbolizing both technological advancement and social change.

What is Repousse?

Repoussé is a venerable metalworking technique that involves shaping and ornamenting metal by hammering from the reverse side to create a raised design. Enhanced further by surface chasing, which refines the form's sharpness and detail, repoussé has been a cornerstone of metal artistry since ancient times. This technique was introduced to the United States in 1828 by Samuel Kirk, marking a significant development in American decorative arts.

The Technique of Repoussé

Repoussé derives its name from the French word repousser, meaning 'to push back'. This process starts with the careful annealing of a metal sheet to make it malleable. The artisan then uses various tools to hammer the design from the backside, gradually creating a raised pattern. Following the repoussé process, chasing (or surface detailing) is often employed on the front of the piece to refine the design and add intricate details, providing depth and sharpness to the overall work.

Historical Significance

The repoussé technique holds a prominent place in the annals of craftsmanship and art history, employed across cultures and epochs to produce items of both functional and aesthetic value. Its introduction to the United States by Samuel Kirk was a pivotal moment that contributed significantly to the richness of American metalworking traditions. Kirk's mastery of repoussé allowed for the creation of exquisite pieces that combined technical prowess with artistic expression, elevating the status of American silverware on the global stage.

Legacy and Modern Relevance

Today, repoussé continues to be celebrated for its artistic and historical significance. Its ability to produce intricate, high-relief designs makes it a favored technique among artisans and collectors alike. The legacy of repoussé, particularly its introduction and evolution in the United States, exemplifies the enduring appeal of traditional craftsmanship in the modern era. As such, repoussé remains a testament to the skill and creativity of metalworkers throughout history, from ancient artisans to Samuel Kirk and beyond.

Who was R Blackington and Company?

Founded in 1862 in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, by Walter Ballou and Roswell Blackinton, the Ballou & Blackinton company stands as a notable chapter in the history of American silverware and jewelry manufacturing. For over a century, this firm remained under the stewardship of the founding families, showcasing a legacy of craftsmanship and entrepreneurial spirit that significantly contributed to the industry's development.

Trademarks and Products

Ballou & Blackinton initially marked their products with a trademark that remained in use until approximately 1900, a hallmark that today aids collectors and historians in identifying and dating their work. The company's portfolio primarily featured sterling silver and 14-karat gold items, encompassing a wide range of products from flatware and holloware to dresserware. Although better known for their exquisite silver and gold pieces, the firm also produced a limited selection of costume jewelry, diversifying its offerings to meet the varied tastes and needs of its clientele.

Acquisition and Legacy

In June 1967, Wells, Inc., another company based in Attleboro, Massachusetts, acquired Ballou & Blackinton, marking the end of its operation under the original family ownership. Despite this change in ownership, the Ballou & Blackinton name remained synonymous with quality and excellence in silverware and jewelry manufacturing.

Global Recognition

One of the company's notable achievements occurred in the mid-1960s when their Marie Louise flatware pattern was selected by the U.S. State Department. This elegant design was chosen for use in all United States embassies around the world, serving as a testament to the company's reputation for producing items of exceptional quality and design. This global recognition underscores the impact of Ballou & Blackinton's craftsmanship on the international stage, cementing their legacy in the annals of American decorative arts.

What is Gold Aluminum?

Gold aluminum represents a unique chapter in the annals of American flatware manufacturing, particularly through its association with the Holmes & Edwards Silver Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut. This solid alloy, notable for its distinctive appearance and utility, underlines the innovative spirit of the era's metallurgists and craftsmen.

Development and Characteristics

The Holmes & Edwards Silver Company, in its quest for diversity and innovation in flatware design, utilized gold aluminum to create pieces that stood out for their aesthetic appeal and durability. Gold aluminum, as employed by the company, was marked with the WALDO HE trademark, a nod to the Waldo Foundry's contribution to the alloy's development. This hallmark not only guaranteed the quality of the material but also traced the lineage of its production.

The Rialto Pattern

Exclusivity in design was embodied in the Rialto pattern, the sole flatware design crafted from gold aluminum by Holmes & Edwards. The choice to produce the Rialto pattern in this unique material highlights the company's commitment to offering distinctive and luxurious options to consumers. Notably, the Rialto pattern was also available in silverplate, providing customers with aesthetic flexibility while maintaining the design's elegance.

Legacy and Collectibility

The use of gold aluminum by Holmes & Edwards in the mid-20th century reflects a period of experimentation and boldness in flatware production. Today, pieces from the Rialto pattern in gold aluminum are cherished by collectors not only for their rarity but also for their historical significance. They serve as a testament to the innovative approaches to material use and design that characterized American flatware manufacturing in the past century.

What is Foreign Silver?

In the realm of silverware, the term "Foreign Silver" encompasses a broad spectrum of silver items originating outside of England, often marked by diverse standards of silver content. This variability presents a contrast to the well-established English sterling silver, known for its 925/1000 purity. Foreign Silver's uncertain silver content, sometimes significantly below the coin standard, underscores the importance of meticulous assessment and knowledge in the collection and trade of such items.

Variability in Silver Content

The silver content of foreign silver items can vary widely, a factor attributed to differing national standards and historical practices. This inconsistency can affect the value and desirability of silver items, making the identification of the silver content crucial for collectors and investors. In many cases, the fineness of the silver is directly stamped on the article, providing a measure of its purity and authenticity.

Standardization in Scandinavia and Germany

In contrast to the broader category of Foreign Silver, Scandinavian countries and Germany have established a standardized fineness for solid silver tableware at 830/1000. This standard is marked by the stamp "830," signifying the silver content and assuring buyers of the item's purity. This practice of standardization reflects a commitment to maintaining quality and consistency in the production of silverware, offering a level of assurance akin to that associated with English sterling.

Implications for Collectors

The diversity of standards in Foreign Silver necessitates a discerning approach from collectors and enthusiasts. Understanding the significance of purity marks and the historical context of silverware production across different regions is essential for making informed decisions. As such, Foreign Silver occupies a unique niche in the world of collectibles, offering a rich tapestry of designs influenced by varying cultural practices and standards of fineness.

What is Electrotype?

Electrotype technology represents a fascinating confluence of art and science, offering a method to replicate art objects with remarkable fidelity. Originating in the 19th century, this process has played a crucial role in both the preservation and dissemination of cultural and historical artifacts. By electroplating a wax impression, electrotyping creates exacting copies of objects, which, in its early days, was primarily utilized to reproduce antiques and artworks. Today, its application extends into the realm of printing, where it aids in the production of facsimile plates.

The Electrotyping Process

The core of electrotyping involves making a precise wax model of the original object. This model is then subjected to electroplating, where a metallic coating, typically copper, is deposited onto the wax form. The result is a metallic copy that captures even the finest details of the original piece. This method allowed for the mass production of art reproductions in the 19th century, making art more accessible to the public and serving as an invaluable tool for educational purposes.

Electrotype in the 19th Century

During its heyday, electrotype technology was revolutionary, enabling museums, educational institutions, and private collectors to acquire and study detailed reproductions of priceless and rare artifacts. It democratized access to cultural heritage, allowing a broader audience to appreciate the intricacies and beauty of works that were otherwise inaccessible.

Modern Applications

In contemporary times, electrotyping has found a niche in the printing industry. The process is employed to create facsimile plates that ensure high-quality reproductions of text and images. Though the advent of digital technology has transformed the printing landscape, electrotyping remains a valued technique for specific applications where detail and fidelity are paramount. Electrotyping stands as a testament to human ingenuity, bridging the gap between artistic endeavor and technological advancement. Its legacy underscores the importance of replication techniques in both preserving and sharing the world's artistic and cultural heritage.

What is Burnishing?

Burnishing is a critical finishing process in metalworking that enhances the durability and aesthetic appeal of electroplated articles. This technique involves the physical polishing of electro deposits, which are typically composed of numerous small crystals. These crystals, while forming a cohesive layer, leave minute intervals between them, resulting in a surface that reflects light in multiple directions. Through burnishing, the deposited metal is not only smoothed but also compacted into the pores of the underlying metal, significantly hardening the surface.

The Process and Its Impact

The primary goal of burnishing is to increase the wear resistance of the electroplated layer. By mechanically polishing the surface, burnishers effectively force the deposited metal into any existing pores, thereby eliminating surface irregularities and enhancing the bond between the electro deposit and the substrate metal. This post-deposition treatment is crucial for ensuring that the final product can withstand physical wear and tear over time.

Enhanced Durability

The impact of burnishing on electroplated articles is profound. It has been observed that burnished items, particularly those plated with precious metals like silver, exhibit a significantly longer lifespan compared to their non-burnished counterparts. In fact, with an equal amount of deposited silver, a burnished article can last twice as long as one that has not undergone this finishing process. This increased durability makes burnishing an invaluable step in the production of high-quality, electroplated items.


Burnishing not only improves the physical properties of electroplated articles but also contributes to their aesthetic quality by producing a smoother and more uniform surface. This enhancement in both durability and appearance underscores the importance of burnishing in the field of metalworking, ensuring that electroplated items can meet the demands of both form and function.

What is Argentine?

Argentine, an innovative alloy comprising tin and antimony, emerged as a significant material in the manufacturing of cutlery and decorative items during the 19th century. Notably utilized as a base for plating with nickel silver—also known as German silver or British plate—this material was celebrated for its durability and aesthetic appeal. In China, Argentine is better known as Paktong, highlighting its global recognition and application in various cultural contexts.

Composition and Applications

The blend of tin and antimony in Argentine offers a unique combination of hardness and workability, making it an ideal substrate for nickel plating. This quality ensured that items crafted from Argentine, such as spoons and forks, not only bore the lustrous finish of silver but also benefitted from the alloy's inherent strength and resistance to wear.

Innovation in Sheffield

The city of Sheffield, renowned for its cutlery and silverware, played a pivotal role in the adoption and promotion of Argentine as a material of choice for manufacturers. W. Hutton & Sons, a prominent firm based in Sheffield, was credited by Bradbury as the pioneer in utilizing Argentine for the production of spoons and forks. Their innovation in 1833 marked a significant milestone in the industry, setting a precedent for the use of Argentine in metalware manufacturing.

Legacy and Significance

The introduction of Argentine into the world of silverware manufacturing underscored a period of technological advancement and material experimentation. Its adoption by esteemed firms like W. Hutton & Sons not only validated the alloy's qualities but also contributed to the evolution of the cutlery industry. Today, Argentine serves as a testament to the ingenuity of 19th-century craftsmen and their quest for materials that combine beauty with practicality.

What is Aluminum Silver?

Aluminum silver represents an innovative alloy that marries the lightweight properties of aluminum with the luster and durability of silver, resulting in a material that offers enhanced qualities suitable for a variety of applications. This alloy, characterized by its hardness and ability to retain its polish without tarnishing in the air, embodies a significant advancement in materials science.

Composition and Characteristics

The alloy's composition, which integrates silver into an aluminum base, varies in proportion but commonly includes a blend of three parts silver to ninety-seven parts aluminum. This specific ratio results in an alloy that, while maintaining the appearance of pure aluminum, significantly surpasses it in hardness and polishability. The incorporation of silver not only augments the alloy's aesthetic appeal but also its resistance to wear and environmental factors.

Advantages and Applications

Aluminum silver's resistance to air and its ability to achieve a high polish make it a preferred choice for decorative items, jewelry, and components in which both the appearance and longevity of the material are critical considerations. Its unique properties bridge the gap between the desirable characteristics of precious metals and the practical advantages of lightweight, non-ferrous metals.

Innovation in Material Science

The development of aluminum silver alloy marks a notable innovation in the field of material science, offering new possibilities for designers and engineers. By combining the distinct qualities of aluminum and silver, this alloy presents a versatile material solution that aligns with both aesthetic and functional requirements. As material technology continues to evolve, aluminum silver stands as a testament to the ongoing pursuit of materials that offer superior performance and enhanced visual appeal.

What is Alaska Silver?

Alaska silver represents an intriguing chapter in the history of metalware, distinguished by its mystery and commercial appeal. Developed as an economical alternative to solid silver, this base metal of undisclosed composition has intrigued both consumers and historians alike. Its primary allure lies in its ability to mimic the appearance of genuine silver, offering the look and feel of luxury at a significantly reduced cost.

Composition and Purpose

While the exact composition of Alaska silver remains a trade secret, its introduction to the market was driven by the demand for affordable silverware options. Advertisements from the era highlight its design to imitate the aesthetic qualities of solid silver, enabling households to enjoy the elegance of silverware without the associated expense. However, despite its visual appeal, Alaska silver's vulnerability to damage from prolonged contact with acid foods, fats, or grease underscores the compromises inherent in substituting genuine precious metals with more cost-effective materials.

Commercial Use and Legacy

Sears Roebuck & Co., a retail giant of the time, adopted Alaska silver as a trade name for a line of silver-plated flatware. The company's 1908 catalog proudly introduced Alaska Metal as a special formula designed to replicate solid silver, emphasizing its lack of actual silver content. This marketing strategy tapped into consumer desires for affordable luxury, making silver-plated items accessible to a wider audience.


Alaska silver, with its blend of mystery and practicality, encapsulates a moment in consumer history where innovation met aspiration. As a material, it highlights the ongoing quest for alternatives to precious metals that do not sacrifice aesthetic value for cost-effectiveness. Although not without its limitations, Alaska silver's role in democratizing the appearance of luxury continues to offer valuable insights into the dynamics of consumer culture and the evolution of material science.

What is Britannia Metal?

Britannia metal, a silver-white alloy, represents a significant development in the field of metallurgy, offering an alternative to traditional pewter with distinct advantages in both appearance and material properties. This alloy, primarily composed of tin, is hardened with copper and antimony to achieve its notable characteristics. The careful balance of these elements not only differentiates it from pewter but also enhances its utility and aesthetic appeal.

Composition and Characteristics

The typical composition of Britannia metal includes a high proportion of tin, which accounts for its silver-white appearance, distinguishing it from the more muted tone of conventional pewter. The alloy is further strengthened by the addition of copper and antimony, which not only harden the material but also contribute to its durability and resistance to wear. Occasionally, small quantities of zinc and bismuth are incorporated to adjust the alloy's melting point and improve its casting qualities. A common formulation of Britannia metal involves 140 parts of tin, complemented by three parts of copper and ten parts of antimony.

Advantages and Applications

The primary advantage of Britannia metal over pewter is its enhanced appearance, which more closely resembles silver, making it an attractive option for decorative items, tableware, and other articles where aesthetics are a priority. The omission of lead in its composition addresses health concerns associated with traditional pewter, further elevating Britannia metal's appeal in the manufacture of food-related utensils and accessories. Its versatility and pleasing visual qualities have made Britannia metal a favored material in the production of high-quality, affordable alternatives to silverware.


Britannia metal's development and widespread use underscore the ongoing search for materials that combine functionality with beauty. By offering an attractive, durable, and safe alternative to pewter and silver, Britannia metal highlights the importance of innovation in material science, catering to both the practical and aesthetic demands of consumers and industries alike.

What is Wood & Hughes silverware?

In 1833, the American silverware industry witnessed the formation of a significant partnership that would leave a lasting mark on the craft. Wood and Hughes emerged from the collaborative efforts of Jacob Wood, William Gale, and Jasper Hughes, with the former two honing their skills as apprentices under Gale's tutelage. This trio laid the groundwork for a firm that would become synonymous with quality, innovation, and artistic excellence in silver craftsmanship.

The Founding Partners

The partnership was built on a foundation of mentorship and mastery of the silversmith's art. William Gale's guidance was instrumental in shaping the skills and aesthetic sensibilities of Wood and Hughes, setting the stage for the firm's future success. This early period of collaboration and learning underscored the importance of passing down traditional techniques while fostering an environment of creativity and innovation.

Signature Patterns

Wood and Hughes distinguished themselves through the introduction of several iconic patterns, each reflecting the firm's adaptability to various stylistic periods and preferences:
  • Gadroon: Characterized by its intricate edging, this pattern exemplifies the firm's mastery of detailed ornamentation.
  • Louis XV: Inspired by the opulent Rococo style, this pattern captures the elegance and extravagance of the French court.
  • Byzantine: Reflecting the historical and artistic influences of the Eastern Roman Empire, this pattern is noted for its complexity and richness.
  • Fiddle: A testament to the firm's versatility, this simpler design caters to a more understated aesthetic, focusing on form and function.

Legacy and Influence

The legacy of Wood and Hughes is preserved in the enduring beauty and quality of their silverware. Through their innovative designs and commitment to craftsmanship, they contributed significantly to the evolution of the American silver industry. The firm's diverse range of patterns demonstrates an ability to both respect tradition and embrace change, making Wood and Hughes a pivotal player in the history of decorative arts.

Who was Whiting Manufacturing Co?

The Whiting Manufacturing Co. stands as a significant chapter in the history of American silverware, with its inception in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, in 1866. This company's journey through the annals of silver manufacturing is marked by innovation, craftsmanship, and resilience, culminating in its acquisition by Gorham in 1924. Whiting Manufacturing Co.'s legacy is intricately tied to its exquisite silver patterns, which have become collectible pieces sought after by enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.

Historical Journey

The company's initial operations in North Attleboro were abruptly halted by a devastating fire, prompting a move to New York City in 1875. This relocation marked a new beginning for Whiting Manufacturing Co., enabling it to expand and flourish in the bustling metropolis. However, the company's narrative took another turn in 1924 when it was acquired by Gorham, a dominant force in the silver industry. Gorham subsequently relocated Whiting's operations to Providence, Rhode Island, in 1926, integrating Whiting's expertise and patterns into its own vast repertoire.

Signature Patterns

Whiting Manufacturing Co. was renowned for its diverse and elegant silver patterns, each embodying the company's commitment to quality and aesthetic beauty. Some of their notable patterns include:
  • Adam
  • Alhambra
  • Antique Lily-Engraved
  • Arabesque
  • Armor
  • Bead
  • Berry
  • Colonial Engraved
  • Duke of York
  • Egyptian
  • Heraldic
  • Hyperion
  • Imperial Queen
  • Japanese
  • King Albert
  • King Edward
  • Lady Baltimore
  • Lily
  • Lily of the Valley
  • Louis XV
  • Madam Jumel
  • Madam Morris
  • Mandarin
  • Old King
  • Pompadour
  • Radiant
  • Stratford
  • Violet

Legacy and Influence

Despite its eventual absorption into Gorham, the Whiting Manufacturing Co. left a lasting impact on the silverware industry. Its patterns continue to be celebrated for their intricate designs and superior craftsmanship, serving as a testament to the company's influence and prestige. Collectors and enthusiasts of fine silverware cherish Whiting's creations, ensuring that the company's legacy endures in the world of decorative arts.

Westmorland.: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Westmorland Sterling Co.  of Wallingford, Connecticut began selling pieces in five patterns produced by Wallace Silversmiths in 1940. Its trademark was a ram's head in profile in a box. Their patterns: Enchanting Orchid, George & Martha Washington, John & Priscilla, Lady Hilton, and  Milburn Rose. 

Weidlich Bros Mfg Co..: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Weidlich Bros. Mfg. Co. sterling silver was produced in Bridgeport, Connecticut between 1901 and 1950. Its marks on sterling included AVON. Their patterns: Ancestry, Lady Sterling, and Virginia Sterling.

Watson Co. Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Watson Co. began producing silver items in Attleboro, Massachusetts, in the late 1890's and produced dozens of flatware patterns and hundreds of style of souvenir spoons. Their patterns: Colonial Fiddle, Foxhall, George II, George II Rex, John Alden, Juliana, Lamerie, Lily Lotus, Martha Washington, Meadow Rose, Mount Vernon, Navarre, Orchid, Wentworth,  and Windsor Rose.

Wallace Silversmiths.: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Wallace Silversmiths Inc. began producing sterling flatware in Wallingford, Connecticut in 1871. Company founder Robert Wallace was apprenticed in 1831, when he was 16, to a maker of Britannia metal spoons. Two years later, he rented an old gristmill, powered by Connecticut's Quinnipiac River, and started to make spoons.
In 1835, Wallace learned of a new metal that had been developed in Germany. He traveled to New York City and purchased the formula from a German chemist for $20., then converted his gristmill to produce nickel-based silver spoons.
Under the name R. Wallace & Sons Mfg. Co., the firm introduced the sterling patterns Hawthorne, The Crown, and St. Leon. Designer William Warren's "three-dimensional" patterns included Sir Christopher and Grande Baroque. Wallace eventually acquired the Watson Co., Tuttle Silver Co., and Smith & Smith. Silver patterns: America, Carnation, Carthage, Corinthian, Dauphine, Dawn Mist, Debutante, Discovery, Eton, Evening Mist, Feliciana, Figured Shell, Georgian Colonial, Grand Colonial, Grande Baroque, Hampton, Irian, Juliet, King Christian, Kings, La Reine, Lamerie, Larkspur, Lotus, Louvre, Lucerne, Madison, Meadow Rose, Melanie, Michele, Monterey, My Love, Nile, Normandie, Orange Blossom, Orchid Elegance, Penrose, Peony, Princess Anne, Princess Mary,Puritan, Putnam, Renaissance, Rheims, Rhythm, Romance of the Sea, Rose, Rose Point, Royal Rose, Royal Satin, Saxon, Shenandoah, Silver Swirl, Sir Christopher, Spanish Lace, Sterling Rose, Stradivari, Violet, Waltz of Spring, Washington, Waverly, Windsor Rose, Windsor/Victoria, and Wishing Star.

A Brief Knowledge Panel about the Unger Bros. Sterling Silverware Company

Unger Bros was started in the 1870's in Newark, New Jersey and made silver items until 1914. The firm's flatware patterns were also featured on other items, including desk sets, ashtrays, and letter openers. Marks on flatware included the capital letter U, and an entwined UB in a circle plus Sterling 935 fine. Patterns: Cupid Sunbeam, Cupid's Nosegay, and Douvaine.

Towle Silversmiths: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Towle Silversmiths of Newburyport, Massachusettsw began in 1857 as Towle & Jones, but the company's heritage goes back to the 17th century. In 1679, William Moulton II left Hampton, New Hampshire and settled at Newbury (later Newburyport) where he became a trader and may have done some silversmithing.

His Son, Joseph, is generally recognized as the first silversmith of the Moulton line, which is said to have the longest continuous span of silversmithing of any American family. From father to son, this family produced silversmiths for two hundred years, more of its members entering the silver industry than from any other family in early American history. Even one woman in the Moulton clan--Lydia, daughter of William III--- did some silversmithing. Although most of the Moultons carried on their craft in Newburyport, some went to other communities where they established themselves as silversmiths.

The third William moved in a covered wagon to Marietta, Ohio, carrying his silversmith's tools with him. His son, Joseph, had four sons, all of whom were silversmiths. Ebenezer moved to Boston and Enoch to Portland, Maine, each of them continuing their crafts in their respective places. Abel inherited his father's business in Newburyport and the fourth William established his own shop in the same place.

By this time, Anthony F. Towle went from Hampton to Newburyport where he became apprenticed to the fourth William Moulton. Anthony was a descendent of Philip Towle and the son of Jabez, who had purchased the General Moulton house in Hampton. Later Anthony joined with William P. Jones to establish a silversmith partnership. These two subsequently purchased the fourth Joseph Moulton's business and formed the firm of Towle and Jones in 1857.

From this enterprise developed the silversmith establishment today known as The Towle Silversmiths. The company mark of a lion mounted on a script letter "T" was supposedly based on the family coat of arms. Silver patterns are: Aristocrat, Awakening, Benjamin Franklin, Candlelight, Canterbury, Cascade, Charlemagne, Chased Diana, Chippendale, Colonial Thread, Contessina, Contour, Country Manor, Craftsman, Debussy, D'Orleans, Dorothy Manners, Drury lane, El Grandee, Esplanade, Federal Cotillion, Fiddle Thread, Fortana, French Colonial, French Provincial, Georgian, King Richard, Lady Constance, Lady Diana, Lady Mary, Lafayette, Laureate, Legato, Louis XIV, Madeira, Marie Louise, Mary Chilton, Meadow Song, Newport Shell, Novantique, Old Brocade, Old Colonial, Old English, Old Lace, Old Master,  Old Mirror, Old Newbury/Newbury, Paul Revere, Peachtree Manor, Petit Point, Pomona, R.S. V. P., Rambler Rose, Rose Solitaire, Royal Windsor, Scroll & Bead, Sculptured Rose, Seville, Silver Flutes, Silver Plumes, Silver Spray, Southwind, Spanish Provincial, Symphony, Vespera, Virginia Carvel,  and Virginia Lee.

Dominick & Haff: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Dominick and Haff began in New York in  1872, and earned a reputation as an innovative designer of silver wares. The firm's success led it to acquire the assets of other manufacturers, including the dies of Adams & Shaw in  1880. The company was sold to Reed & Barton in 1928. Some silver patterns: Century, Charles II, Chippendale, Contempora, King, La Salle, Labors of Cupid, Marie Antoinette, Mazarin, New King, No. 10, Old English Antique, Pointed Antique, Queen Anne-Plain, Renaissance, Rococo, Victoria, and Virginia

Concord Silver Co: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Concord Silver Co. began in 1925 in Concord, New Hampshire. It went into bankruptcy and was reorganized as Concord Silversmiths Ltd. in 1939. Silver production was halted in 1942. Crown Silver Co later purchased Concord's dies.  Silver pattern: Concord.

Birks: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Henry Birks & Co. was established in Montreal, Quebec, in 1879, and became Henry Birks & Sons in 1893. It acquired Gorham Co. of Canada Ltd. in 1907. The company used date letters as early as 1898, and later adopted hallmarks, which covered the years 1904 to 1962. Some silver patterns: Chantilly, George II Plain, Louis XV, and Old English.

Amston Silver Co: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Based in Meriden, Connecticut, Amston Silver Co. Inc. went out of business in the 1960's, and its patterns were acquired bay Crown Silver Co. They had the following siilver patterns : Athene, Champlain,and  Ecstasy

Alvin Corp: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Alvin Corp Manufacturing Co. was founded in 1886 in Irvington, New Jersey. It became Alvin Silver Co. in  1919. The Gorham Co bought most of the  firm's assets in 1928 and changed the name to Alvin Corp. Company marks include an ornate capital A flanked by a winged dragon; they also produced a line called Lullaby Sterling. Some pattern names include: Apollo, Avila, Bridal Bouquet, Bridal Rose,  Chapel Bells, Chased Romantique, Chateau Rose, Chippendale-Old, Della Robbia, Eternal Rose, Fleur de Lis, Florence Nightingale, Florentine, Francis I, French Scroll, Gainsborough, Hamilton, Hampton, Majestic, Maryland, Melrose, Miss Alvin, Morning Glory, Orange Blossom-Old, Orange Blossom-New, Pirouette, Prince Eugene, Raleigh, Raphael, Richmond, Romantique, Rosecrest, Southern Charm, Spring Bud,, Vivaldi, and William Penn       

What are the rules for buying sterling silver?

Remember the rules: Rule #1. If it ain't stamped STERLING or 925, it ain't STERLING Rule #2. Silverware sets will have partial sterling pieces. If the forks are stamped STERLING, the other pieces such as dinner knives in the same set are STERLING HANDLES, even if they are not marked. You pay for 15 grams of sterling for dinner knives, even if they weigh 30 grams, because they are mostly stainless steel blades. Rule #3. MOST IMPORTANT RULE: if you are not CERTAIN, DON'T BUY IT!

International Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

International Silver Co was formed in  Meriden, Connecticut, in 1898 by a group of independent silversmiths. This association came to include Rogers Bros. (and their famous 1847 trademark), Derby Silver, Meriden Brittannia, Webster and Wilcox, among many others.  Some pattern names: 1810, Abbottsford, Angelique, Avalon, Berkeley, Blossom Time, Brandon, Breton Rose, Bridal Veil, Brocade, Cloeta, Colonial Shell, Continental, Courtship, Dawn Rose, Deerfield/Beacon Hill, Devonshire, Du Barry, Edgewood, Elegance, Elsinore, Empress, Enchanted Rose, Enchantress, Fontaine, Frontenac, Gadroon, Georgian Maid, Governor Bradford, Grande Regency, Irene, Joan of Arc, La Rochelle, Lady Betty, Lambeth Manor, Mademoiselle, Maintenon, Margaret-New, Margaret-Old, Masterpiece, May Melody, Mille Fleurs, Minuet, Moonglow, Napoleon, Norse, Northern Lights, Old Charleston, Orleans, Pansy, Pantheon, Pine Spray, Pine Tree, Prelude, Primrose, Queen's Lace, Radiant Rose, Revere, Rhapsody-New, Rhapsody-Old, Richelieu, Riviera, Rosalind-New, Rose Ballet, Royal Danish, Royal Rose, Sculptured Beauty, Serenity, Shirley, Silver Iris, Silver Melody, Silver Rhythm, Sonja,  Southern Treasure, Splendor, Spring Bouquet, Spring Glory, Springtime, Stardust, Stratford, Swan Lake, Theseum, Torchlight, Trianon, Trousseau, Valencia, Vision, Warwick, Wedding Bells, Wedgewood, Wesley, Westminster, Whitewall-New, Wild Rose-New, Wild Rose-Old, and Windermere

Richard Dimes: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

The Richard Dimes Co. was founded in the first quarter of the 20th century (sources differ on the exact year) in South Boston, Massachusetts. In 1955, the firm was sold to King Silver Co., which in turn was taken over by Rogers, Lunt & Bowlen (later Lunt Silversmiths). Dimes' tools and dies were purchased by Manchester Silver Co in the mid-1950's. Some pattern names: Debutante.

Tiffany and Company: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Tiffany and Company Inc of New York began producing its own sterling flatware in the late 1800's, but as early as the 1850's had sold the wares of other makers that bore its name. The company introduced the English sterling silver standard (925/1000) in the United States in 1852, and this was later adopted as federal law to determine sterling silver purity. Some pattern names: Atlantis, Audubon, Bamboo, Beekman, Broom Corn, Castilian, Century, Chrysanthemum, Clinton, Colonist, English King 1870, English King 1885, Faneuil, Feather Edge, Flemish, Hamilton, Hampton, Japanese, King William/Antique, Marquise, Palm, Palmette, Persian, Provence, Queen Anne, Rat Tail, Renaissance, Richelieu, Salem, San Lorenzo, Saratoga, Shell & Thread, St. Dunstan, St. James, Tiffany, Vine.Fruits & Flowers, Wave Edge, Windham, and Winthrop.

State House: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Some pattern names: Formality, Inaugural, and Stately 

Schofield co, inc: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Schofield Co Inc, of Baltimore, Maryland began in 1903 as Baltimore Silversmiths Mfg. Co and was known as Heer-Schofield Co. and Frank M. Schofield co. until the late 1920's. The company purchased assets of Jenkins & Jenkins about 1915. Some pattern names: Baltimore rose-Decor, Baltimore Rose-Plain and Lorraine.

Royal Crest: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Some pattern names: Castle Rose, Promise, and Wild Flower.

Reed and Barton: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Reed & Barton of Taunton, Massachusetts began in 1824 as the partnership of Babbitt & Crossman.  Isaac Babbitt and Wlliam Crossman began a small Brittania ware firm that went through several incarnations and almost collapsed, but was saved by the work of three employees: Charles E. Barton (the brother-in-law of William Crossman), Henry Good Reed, and Benjamin Pratt. By  1840, the Reed & Barton firm was established. 
`Reed & Barton has produced more than 100 flatware patterns, including Francis I, which has been a popular pattern since it's introduction in 1907. The firm acquired Dominick & Haff in 1928 and the Wester Co. in  1949, although Reed & Barton later sold that company to Towle in the  1960's. Initially, Reed & Barton produced Brittania ware, which resembles pewter but is more durable. Silver plated flatware was added in 1848 and sterling silverware introduced in  1889. The firm's marks on sterling feature the letter R in a shield flanked by an eagle on the left and a rearing lion on the right. Some other pattern names: Amaryllis, Autumn Leaves, Burgundy, Cameo, Cellini, Cellini-Engraved, Chambord, Classic Fashion, Classic Rose, Clovelly, Columbia, Da Vinci, DAncing Flowers, Devon, Diadem, Diamond, Dimension, Dorothy Quincy, Elegante/L'Elegante, English Provincial, Florentine, Fragrance, Francis I (Eagle/R/Lion stamp), Francis I (Patent pending stamp), Francis I (Reed & Barton stamp), Francis I sterling and gold, French Antique, French Renaissance, Georgian Rose, Grande Renaissance, Guildhall, Hampton Court, Hawthorne, Hepplewhite-Chased, Hepplewhite-Engraved, Hepplewhite-Plain, Heritage, Intaglio, Jubilee, Kings, La Marquise, La Parisienne, La Perle-Engraved, La Reine, Lark,  Les Cinq, Les Six Fleurs, Love Disarmed, Majestic, Marlborough, Petite Fleur, Pointed Antique, Pointed Antique-Hammered,  Renaissance Scroll, Romaine/Monique, Rose Cascade, Savannah, Silver Sculpture,Silver Wheat, Spanish Baroque, Star, Tapestry, Tara, and Trajan.

Oneida: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Oneida Silversmiths was incorporated in  1880 near Sherrill, New York as Oneida Community Limited. It became Oneida Ltd. in  1935 and began producing sterling flatware in 1946, marked Oneida Sterling or Heirloom Sterling. Some Pattern names: Afterglow, Belle Rose, Bountiful, Damask Rose, Dover, Du Maurier, Engagement, First Frost, Flower Lane, Grandeur, Heiress, King Cedric, Lasting Spring, Mansion House, Martinique, Mediterranea, Melbourne, Reigning Beauty, Rubaiyat, Satin Beauty, Sentimental, Silver Rose, Stanton Hall, Twilight, Virginian, Vivant, Will O' Wisp,  and Young Love

Old Newbury: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Old Newbury Crafters of Newburyport and Amesbury, Massachusetts, was formally established in  1932, but began as a joint venture in 1915. They specialized in hand-wrought patterns, including Moulton and Old Newbury. All hand-wrought pieces have been marked by the craftsmen who made them since 1965. Some pattern names: Moulton, Oak Leaf and Old Newbury.

Northumbria: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Pattern: Normandy Rose, date unknown.

National Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

National Silver Co of New York began in 1904, and later acquired the F.B. Rogers Co. and the Ontario Manufacturing Co of Muncie, Indiana In the mid-1950's. No flatware has been produced since the mid-1940's. Some pattern names: Intermezzo, Margaret Rose, Narcissus, Overture, and Princess Elizabeth.

Manchester Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Manchester Silver Co. was established in 1887 in Providence, Rhode Island, and adopted the slogan, "If it's Manchester, It's sterling". The company mark was a cross surrounded by a crown, and the letter M. Some pattern names: Amaryllis, American Beauty, Copenhagen, Duke of Windsor,Fleetword, Gadroonette, Leonore, Manchester, Mary Warren, Park Avenue, Polly Lawton, Silver Stream, Southern Rose, and Valenciennes.

Lunt Silversmiths: Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Lunt Silversmiths was established in  1901 in Greenfield, Massachusetts as Rogers, Lunt & Bowlen Co, after the failure of the A. F. Towle & Son Co, and began using the Lunt Silversmiths trademark in  1935. It later acquired the assets of the King Silver Co and the Richard Dimes Co. Some pattern names: Alexandra, American Directoire, American Victorian, Belle Meade, Carillon, Charles II, Chased Classic, Chatelaine, Colonial Manor, Colonial Theme, Contrast, Coronet, Counterpoint, Delacourt, Early american-Engraved, Early American-Plain, Early Colonial, Eloquence, English Shell, Festival, Floral Lace, Granado, Lace Point, Madrigal, Mary II, Memory Lane, Mignonette, Modern Classic, Modern Victorian, Monticello, Mount Vernon, Nellie Custis, Pendant of Fruit, Raindrop, Rapallo, Regency, Rondelay, Rose Elegance, Spring Serenade, Starfire, Summer, song, Sweetheart Rose, and William & Mary.

Jenkins and Jenkins Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Jenkins and Jenkins, established in 1908 in Baltimore, Maryland, was the successor to a silver manufacturer known as A. Jacobi, which was started in  1879. The Schofield Co. of Baltimore bought the tools and dies of Jenkins & Jenkins in about 1915. Some pattern names: Repousse.

Gorham Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

The company that became the Gorham Corp. was founded about 1817 by Jabez Gorham in  Providence, Rhode Island, and became the Gorham Manufacturing Co in 1863. Jabez Gorham started making silver in  1831 in a shop on Steeple Street in Providence. Born to a family of eight, he was apprenticed to New England silversmith Nehemiah Dodge. Dodge was one of the founders of the silver and jewelry crafts industry in  18th century New England. After his seven-year apprenticeship with Dodge, Jabez formed his own business. He created the "French filigree" chain, as well as a wide selection of handcrafted pieces. The firm began producing "coin silver" spoons (made from melted coins).
Jabez's son, John, took total control of the company when Jabez retired. By  1875, there were more than 400 employees, and in 1890 Gorham moved to a new site in Providence. An office building designed in 1905 by architect Stanford White was located on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
The company's trademark--lion/anchor/G was first used in the mid-1800's; later pieces are marked "Gorham Sterling." After the turn of the century, Gorham began acquiring other silver firms, including Whiting, Durgin, Kerr, Mr. Vernon, and Alvin. 

Georg Jensen Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Georg Jensen's silver business opened in Copenhagen, Denmark, in  1904 and became one of the leading producers of silverware in the world. The mark on sterling is a wreath topped by a crown and the words Georg Jensen Inc. An American company, Georg Jensen Inc. USA started in New York in 1941 and ceased production about nine years later. Some pattern names: Acanthus, Acorn, Beaded, Bernadotte, Blossom, Cactus, Caravell, Continental, Cypress, Old Danish, Parallel, and Pyramid.

Frank M. Whiting Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Frank M. Whiting Co. began making silverware in  North Attleboro, Massachusetts in 1878, when it was known as Holbrook, Whiting & Albee. The company became a part of Ellmore Silver Co in about 1940, and that firm went out of business around 1960. Crown Silver Co. of New York later acquired the Whiting dies. The company mark of a griffon and a shield with a W was used up to 1896, and  later a W in a circle flanked by stylized leaves. Some pattern names: Adams, Athene/Crescendo, Botticelli, Georgian Shell, Lily/Floral, Neapolitan/Kings Court, Princess Ingrid, Rose of Sharon, Talisman Rose, Troubadour and Victoria/Florence.

Frank W. Smith Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Frank W. Smith Silver Co. Inc. Began in  1886 in Gardner, Massachusetts. The firm was sold in 1917 and ceased silver manufacturing in 1930. Company marks include a lion on a crescent moon entwined with the letter S, an S in a circle flanked by conical shapes, and an S surrounded by double scrolls. A subsidiary of Reed and Barton bought the silver assets in  1958, and the flatware manufacturing was moved to North Attleboro, Massachusetts. Some pattern names: American Chippendale, Chippendale-Old, Countess, Federal Cotillion, Fiddle Shell/Alden, Fiddle Thread, George VI, Lion, Newport Shell, Pilgrim, and Woodlily.

Fine Arts Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Fine Arts Sterling Silver Co. was established in  1944 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, selling patterns made by International Silver Co., and was moved to Morgantown, Pennsylvania in  1972. After moving to Jenkintown, Pennsylvania in 1977, Fine Arts went of of business in 1979. Some pattern names:  Crown Princess, Romance of the Stars, Processional, Romance Rose, Southern Colonial,  and Tranquility.

Easterling Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Easterling Co. began in Chicago in 1944. Sterling assets were sold to the Westerling Co. in 1974, with Gorham producing the patterns. Some pattern names: American Classic, Helene, Horizon, Rose Spray, Rosemary, and Southern Grandeur.

Durgin Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

William B. Durgin started his company in Concord, New Hampshire in 1853, and it grew to become one of the largest flatware and hollowware manufacturers in the U.S.  Gorham Co. purchased the firm in 1905, and production was moved to Providence, Rhode Island in 1931. Some pattern names are: Bead, Chatham, Chrysanthemum, Cromwell, Dauphin, English Rose, Essex, Fairfax, hunt Club Iris, Lenox, Louis XV, Madame Royale,  Marechal Niel, New Vintage, Orange Blossom, Sheaf of Wheat, Victorian/Sheraton, and Watteau.

Kirk Steiff Sterling Silverware Company - A Brief History

Kirk Steiff Corp. began in Baltimore Maryland in 1815 as Kirk & Smith. For the next 100 years, generations of the Kirk family operated the firm. Founder Samuel Kirk introduced the Repousse pattern in 1828. The Stieff Co. of Baltimore acquired the Kirk Co. in 1979.

Questions to Ask Regarding Sterling Silver Holloware Tea Services and Other Sterling Serving Pieces

There are some key facts buyers need to know when making a bid for your sterling silver holloware and serving pieces. This article covers the basics.
Maker and Pattern
The maker will be names such as Gorham, Reed & Barton, Towle.  The pattern will be names like Chantilly, Royal Danish, Repousse. The words will be found stamped on the bottom of each piece in most cases.
Weighted or Open Base?
Are your pieces weighted or open? Meaning is the base closed and weighted with concrete or sand, or open or hollow bottomed? 

Stamped Sterling?
Is the piece stamped STERLING?  If not, it is 99% probable that the piece is not sterling silver, but rather silver plate.

What are the dimensions?
What is the height and width of each piece? In the case of platters and serving trays, what is the length?
How much does the piece weigh, in ounces or grams?
Do you know how much each piece weighs in ounces or grams? Buyers need to know this key fact but can often work around it if you simply don't know. To get the best bid, weigh your pieces and be ready to supply this information.

Once buyers have these questions answered they can can make a bid, if you happen to have photos you can email, that would be a big help as well.
To get the best offer for your pieces, you must give the generally-accepted information that expert buyers require.

Prepare For Success! How To Make An Inventory List of Your Sterling Silver Flatware

As one of the leading buyers of sterling silver flatware in America, we get hundreds of requests for purchase offers every month. We love the opportunities, but sometimes the description of the collection lacks detail and thus delays our response. We respond most quickly to those who have included the information we need.

Caution: Before making your list, please verify that your flatware is marked STERLING (read our article about this here:

When preparing to sell your sterling silver flatware, please provide the following information in your inventory list:

Maker Name:
Pattern Name:
Inventory List:
Type                Length         Quantity           Solid Sterling or Partial Stainless

Teaspoon          6"                 12                    solid
Dinner Knives   9"                 12                    blades are marked stainless
Dinner Forks     7-1/2"           12                    solid SS

It is not enough simply to state the quantity of each piece you have. Within a given pattern, take PRELUDE for example, the size of the various pieces varied over the years, and this definitely affects value. We can often date a piece simply by its length!  So, size DOES matter when it comes to sterling flatware.

Armed with a well-prepared inventory list, we can make an intelligent offer without requiring you to ship your flatware to us first.

Good Luck! We look forward to the opportunity to do business with you!

How can I tell if my silverware is real sterling silver?

When it comes to identifying sterling silver silverware, it's important to know a few key features that distinguish it from silver-plated or stainless steel flatware.

Here's a straightforward guide to help you determine if your silverware is indeed sterling silver.

Look for the word STERLING or 925

The simplest and most reliable way to identify sterling silver is to look for the sterling silver stamp or hallmark. In the United States, genuine sterling silver will have the word "Sterling" or the number "925" stamped somewhere on the piece, usually on the backside of the handle. The word STERLING guarantees that the piece is made of 100% solid sterling silver. This hallmark is a standard indicator of sterling silver's purity. Wondering why your dinner knives from the same set don't have the hallmark? It's because they have stainless steel blades and are therefore not 100% solid sterling silver.

As always, there are exceptions to the rule. European sterling silverware and pieces made before 1900 may not have the STERLING stamp. Instead, they may have the so-called LION PASSANT hallmark, which is a tiny symbol of a lion with one paw held up.

99 out of 100 times, though, the word STERLING will be stamped on the back of the handles of your silverware if they are indeed sterling.

ES or A1 stamping? If your pieces have ES or A1 stamped on the back that means they are electroplated silver, not sterling.

Perform the Magnet Test

Sterling silver is not magnetic. You can perform a simple test using a strong magnet. If your silverware is attracted to the magnet, it's likely made of a nickel or other magnetic metal base, which means it's not sterling silver.

Check the Weight and Sound

Sterling silver typically has a heavier feel compared to silver-plated items due to its higher density. Gently tapping your silverware can also give you a clue; sterling silver will emit a high-pitched, resonant sound, while non-sterling items sound duller.

Consider Professional Appraisal

If you're still uncertain about the composition of your silverware, consider taking it to a professional appraiser. They have the tools and expertise to conduct more sophisticated tests that can definitively determine if your silverware is sterling silver.

By using these tips, you can confidently identify whether your silverware is authentic sterling silver, adding both value and elegance to your dining experience.

Remember, taking the time to properly assess your silverware can reveal its true worth and help you make informed decisions about its care and potential resale.