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Author Topic:   Silver Tea Set

Posts: 1
Registered: Feb 2010

iconnumber posted 02-11-2010 09:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kasi     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote


I was at an estate sale and found this tea set that is copper, but it has been suggested that it was once silver and that during the 70's it was popular to strip off the silver and sell it, therefore leaving the copper.

It is copper and brass and really too crude to have been a silver plated set in my opinion, plus I really can't see someone stripping the silver off to sell. Did they really do that in the 70's.

I have not polished this set yet, and it still has some of the green patina that collectors love, and I hate and plan to remove. I think it will make a great display piece once it is put back in shape....a little straightening of the final and making one of the pots sit straight.

But before I start the process I was wondering if anyone could confirm the rumors of silver removal, and also did this occur with the rococo style that this set is?

Also would silver platers have plated over the copper and the brass? Or was this original made as a copper set.

I know I know, lots of questions ...
This set is extremely heavy and very large.
The tray is 27 inches long

Thanks in advance for answering all the questions I hope I do the pics right.

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Ulysses Dietz

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 02-18-2010 08:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Without seeing it in person, I can't guarantee that I'm correct--but in the 1970s, while in college, I went to the now-gone International Silver factory and had a tour of the operation. I remember seeing teapots and coffeepots, made of brass and silver, being run through the electroplating baths. The quality of your basic silver-plated bride's teaset in the 1970s was, I can assure you, pretty low.

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Posts: 1597
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 02-18-2010 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm not aware of such stripping for the silver content. There really isn't very much silver on most silver electro plate objects and the cost of stripping it would likely make stripping it not very cost effective. Silver bullion is just not all that valuable. I supposed there may have been a few people who tried it though. More likely to my thinking is the object was never plated to begin with, or it was plated very thinly and it was worn off to just an extent that someone decided to buff off what was left to make it look more even. What are the markings on it? Does is say something like electro plated or EP something on the bottom?

[This message has been edited by Kimo (edited 02-18-2010).]

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Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 02-18-2010 03:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Attack of the decorators. For decades there has been a slight trend for decorators to alter items for aesthetic effect. In silver the two favorite means have been to take plate off and to silverplate hand made copper and pewter items. Which confuses us enormously.

To add to the confusion, the work was generally done in lamp shops. Reverse plateing is a fairly easy operation. Give the item a light polish and wash. Then put it in the tank with the pot on the positive and it strips in about 15 minutes. The lamp shop charged at decorator rates, so the small amount of silver was a bonus. Buffing it off would take hours and probably damage the item.

This is a constant practice of decorators; to change things around. Like paint the pine chest with a faux mahogany finish. Stencil the wall to look like wall paper. Usually large trays were stripped and made into coffee tables.

Silverplated objects are frequently assembled from an array of metals. Each metal has a different function and capability.

Unusual items, things that don't make sense, frequently have been altered by a docorator.

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Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 02-18-2010 09:51 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks, Dale. I've learned something new. It is too bad that otherwise nice things are ruined by such people who do not appreciate the beauty of silver plated objects though I suppose if they have to do such things that inexpensive and low quality objects are the their targets.

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Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 02-20-2010 04:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dealing in silverplate presents certain problems which the decorators and their fiddly suppliers can solve. It is customary that the silverplate dealer buys in lots. Which means that after the sterling dealers have bought up all the sterling, the silverplate dealer buys all the remaining silver type items. The silverplate dealer still pays for the items he wants at the wholesale price for them; s/he gets to haul away the remnents s/he doesn't want.

Going thru the lot usually brings some good news. When I was an active dealer it was quite common that the one who knew the most about Coin, European and Asian silver was the silverplate dealer. It came in those lots. Then there was all the holloware that had to be moved.

These pieces did not justify display space. The market was effectively decorators, suppliers to the decorating trade and caterers. The suppliers were very creative people. Taking off the plate to expose copper was always an option. Making the piece into something else really brought this out.

Among the items I recall were:

Chafing dish halfs made into wall mounted with a statue of our Our Lady of Guadalupe inside.

Punch bowls made into chandeliers with crystals hanging from it.

Pots made into lamps; this was really popular for a long time.

Childrens' cups made into mobiles.

Chafing dish halfs made into wall sconces.

That was the reality of the silverplate trade.

On a lighter note, I knew someone who made chandeliers with bebochees of melmac cups and saucers. And sold them. To people who put them in their homes. He got $1,300 for a 12 light. I actually saw this happen.

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