An Introduction to Antique Silver
Below, you will find all you need to know when considering purchasing Antique Silver, with advice from one of our Antique Dealers on things to consider and some handy tips from our resident Interior Designer.
Antique Dealers Advice - Eight considerations when buying antique silver:
Silver expert, Mr Brian Basford, from Wentworth Silver suggests the following eight pieces of advice when purchasing antique silver.
- The Age of the antique silver can largely determine the value, so find out the date the item was made.
- Find out if the antique silver is fully hallmarked.
- The condition of antique silver is terribly important, whether there has been any repairs or damage, it is a soft metal so it is more than likely there may have been a few damages to the piece of the year.
- If there has been restoration, make sure the silversmith is reputable and has carried out the work well. It is unusual for a piece of silver not to have been bashed and restored to a certain degree.
- The maker of the antique silver is terribly important, as a name can be immediately associated with a certain quality. For example, Paul Storr is a very reputable silversmith and is considered one of England’s 19thC finest.
- Fashion changes as does what is popular in terms of silver, for example silver teapots are no longer in vogue, but times change as does demand.
- Sometimes the smaller the better, big grand pieces of silver aren’t as collectable. For example, the small silver boxes as made by Nathaniel Mills of Birmingham during the 1830’s and 1840’s are exquisite and very collectable indeed.
- Different makers specialised in different things, there was a large number of registered silversmith makers in London, so the collections are vast and there are many pieces to choose from.
Interior Designers View - Five considerations when purchasing antique silver pieces:
Our LoveAntiques.com resident interior designer, Lizzie Greenaway, believes antique silverware has an enduring style and its desirability is timeless, elegant, and exquisite with a variety of designs and examples of revered silversmiths, she suggests the following tips when looking to buy a piece of silver.
- Personal Taste - Begin with what you like. As mentioned previously in this guide the amount of antique silver on the market is vast, it is always important you purchase antique silver that you genuinely like, even if not on display it is important you can admire it at your leisure.
- Display Antique Silverware as Art - You needn’t purchase antique silver purely for its functionality, they are often items of beauty that are of fine quality so look attractive on display. For example hang a silver tray on a wall to admire, cluster a silver antique tea set on a shelf or place an antique jewellery box in the centre of a dresser to appreciate. Antique silver can quite easily be incorporated into the décor of one’s house.
- Incorporate Tradition and Beauty into Everyday Life - As I said in my last point antique silver can be simply displayed but you can also purchase pieces to use within the house, the fashion for formal dining is set to be in vogue again and what better way to embrace it than adding an element of beauty to ones dining experience. There were many silver flatline pieces created between 1870 and 1920, when dinner could encompass 10 courses, so take advantage of the vast collections available.
- Make Silver a Statement Piece - Just one item of exquisite silver can be enough within the home to create the perfect look, think a splendid silver chandelier hung above a dining table or a pair of silver candelabras.
- Do not dismiss Small pieces - Smaller silver pieces can work just as well as statement pieces. An antique silver bowl placed in a living room filled with roses looks simply gorgeous, or a combination of three individually, unique small silver candlesticks placed together on a table look fabulous. Think small silver plates, spoons, fruit platters and cake stands.
Extra Considerations when purchasing Antique Silver
Silver has undeniable been a precious metal for a number of years, its popularity is timeless, which means it is a good investment piece if cared for properly, as it is unlikely to lose its value over time. The condition of the piece is also a practical consideration of the up most importance.
There is something rather lovely about vintage and antique silver, the pieces have a romantic history of their own, coupled with this it is environmentally friendly, they do not use environmental energy unless melted down and remade into another piece of silver. Reusing and re-gifting antique silver is a way in which you can ensure items of beauty don’t end up been lost to the past.
Valuing Antique Silver
Sterling silver will sometimes be stamped, but older pieces may not be, an antique silver specialist can help age and determine the value of your piece in this case. It is important to note that silver-plated items although attractive are not as valuable as sterling silver or pure silver, however this does not mean they are not of sentimental value within families.
Antique silver is often a valuable investment; therefore it is of upmost importance that you ensure it is insured before it is sent out for delivery. It is important to use recorded delivery and make sure the item of silver is securely wrapped to avoid damage in transit.
If you treat your item of antique silver appropriately it can last a lifetime, and also your next of kin’s. Tarnish of silver does occur over time but given the right cleaning you can avoid any long-term damage. It is best to store sterling silver in a cloth pouch or airtight container; this will also help prevent the silver tarnishing over time. If you are purchasing antique silver jewellery to wear it is important to take it off before cleaning with harsh products, washing up or swimming for example.
As stated previously the collection of antique silver on the market is vast, so take your time, appreciate its beauty and purchase a piece you truly love.
For Silver Hallmark information on LoveAntiques.com visit www.loveantiques.com/blog/2015/07/silver-hallmarks-explained