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tline3open  Identifying Old vs. New Pieces of Same Pattern

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Author Topic:   Identifying Old vs. New Pieces of Same Pattern
cmajestro

Posts: 4
Registered: Jan 2005

iconnumber posted 01-14-2005 10:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for cmajestro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am a newbie who has started collecting sterling patterns from Frank Smith, Reed & Barton, and Whiting. The patterns originated around 1900 but are also being currently produced by the companies or their successors. Do the newer pieces have less collectible value? (The replacement sources seem to charge more for the new.) Also, are there tips for distinguishing the old from the new? I have one book by Maryann Dolan, but it doesn't address this issue. Thanks!!

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 01-15-2005 08:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is actually a rather complex question. Some patterns are rather easy to distinguish old from new, as the marks used have changed over time. For example, R&B's Francis I. The older pieces will have the Reed & Barton trademark, while the newer pieces will say REED & BARTON. That said, some pieces have the mark cut into the dies, and a restrike using an old die will have the old mark.

There is also the issue of counterfeit castings of old pieces. Whiting's LILY seesm to be the most popular choice; you can find cast reproduction of Lily servers at flea markets, on eBay, and just about anywhere else. They are usually easy to spot, due to the lack of crispness in the design.

Reissued older patterns, like Smith's LION, are valued considerably less than the originals. You can buy a new place setting for the cost of a single original dinner fork. Some reissues are easy to spot, even if the marks are "old". The design may not be as crisp, the weight may be less, or the finish may look more like tinfoil than silver. On the other hand, I was shown a LILY salad serving set that was supposedly new, but I could not tell at all. So, beware! Learn what original pieces are selling for, and if a price seems to good to be true, it is very likely a reissue or a fake.

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cmajestro

Posts: 4
Registered: Jan 2005

iconnumber posted 01-15-2005 08:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cmajestro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Brent, thanks for the information. I don't live near sources for antique flatware so I do most of my buying online - that makes it more difficult to evaluate the pieces. Can you recommend literature that would give me more info on the date ranges for different hallmarks and perhaps the years the flatware patterns were in production? Thanks again!!

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 01-15-2005 09:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
One simple and fast way to differentiate the new from the old: look for hand engraved triple monograms. These are found almost exclusively on old silver.

My own feeling is that quality varies by time of production. With the period 1945 to about 1975 representing the general worst in US silve r quality. This seems to have been a period in which the US makers let things go. But they appear to have recovered somewhat since then.

Beyond that, I suspect there is no simple way to tell the difference.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 01-16-2005 12:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is no information on when patterns were produced. All we really know is that date of introduction which comes from the patent. The date ranges for marks are also unknown. My impression is the same as Brent's: if the mark is part of the die, date of production is unknowable. Dies with marks can be used for decades, and brought into production at any time.

IMHO nothing teaches like sitting down with a knowlegable dealer and having him/her show pieces. I can not imagine there is anywhere in the US that is without silver dealers. Or antique shows. Where are you located?

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cmajestro

Posts: 4
Registered: Jan 2005

iconnumber posted 01-16-2005 07:15 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for cmajestro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I live in Charleston, WV. We have a few low-end type "antique" shops here, and some more in nearby Huntington. At most, they have a few miscellaneous pieces of sterling or plate flatware. I do travel occasionally. I'll be in NYC in March, near Hagerstown, MD in June, and near Savannah in July. Any recommendations?

Also, I was reading about "The Book of Silver." Looks pricey, but not so much if it would prevent me from making mistakes. Do you think it would help?

Thanks,
Cindy

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Bob and Carol Carnighan

Posts: 63
Registered: Apr 99

iconnumber posted 01-16-2005 09:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Bob and Carol Carnighan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You are six driving hours away from Baltimore. Each year at the end of August at the inner harbor convention center there is a weekend antique show that features one of the best collection of silver dealers that you will find anywhere.

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