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American Silver before sterling
Silverplate to watch out for!
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|Author||Topic: Silverplate to watch out for!|
posted 09-25-2001 01:13 AM
In the world of coin silver, marks can sometimes be misleading. In the later days of coin silver, particularly the 1850's and 60's, a lot of coin silver was produced and left unmarked by the maker. Most of this silver would eventually receive a mark from the retailer, but not all.
As a result, it is not uncommon for the coin silver collector to encounter pieces with only a simple incuse mark. Unfortunately, a lot of early plated flatware from the same period will have similar sorts of marks. With experience, you can usually learn to tell plate from coin. There are usually worn patches on plate that are easy to spot, and a lot of the plated flatware was produced by a few easily recognizable names, like Rogers & Co., Hall & Elton, etc.
Here are three examples, though, that can fool the unwary. In this case, me!
This massive fork was one of my first purchases. Strangely enough, it has no wear- through whatsoever, even on the tines. I'm not sure if it was replated or what, but it is in remarkable condition. Anyway, the faint mark reads CURTISVILLE MFG. CO. F. Curtis & Co, and later the Curtisville Manufacturing Co., began producing electroplate around 1842, and were out of business by 1858. They were actually one of the first companies in the US to produce German silver flatware, and one of the first commercial electroplaters. Historically, they are quite important. Not much of their product survives, but remember that silver marked F. CURTIS or CURTISVILLE is almost certainly not coin silver.
Here is a very interesting and well preserved master butter knife (or letter opener:-)) by Brown & Brothers of Waterbury, CT. They were another very early silverplating firm. They were established in 1851, and were out of business by 1885. They patented and produced a number of their own flatware designs, such as this. Because they were a relatively small concern, and their designs were never used by any other company, their products are also uncommon. This one fooled me (not really, but it certainly made me curious enough to buy it) because of its fine condition, unfamiliar design, and unfamiliar mark. Now you know!
Finally, here is a Bead pattern flat knife by Haynes & Lawton. Haynes & Lawton were an early silverplating firm in San Francisco, established in 1864 and out of business by 1874. This one is quite difficult to make out; you just have to know that Haynes & Lawton were strictly silverplaters, and look for the telltales signs of wear. There is one tiny worn patch on this knife; otherwise it could easily pass for coin.
Anyway, keep an eye out! I hope this may help some budding collectors avoid being fooled, like me!
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