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Author Topic:   The Family Silver: Do you have it?
Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 04-17-2006 09:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
[20-0090]

Hello all,

I have been thinking lately about the fate of silver collections. Most of the people I know who like silver actually inherited very little of it. The silver bug seems to have infected them, and was not some hereditary trait. On the other hand, I have met people who inherited a few pieces which served as a springboard for a collection, as well as some who have "the family silver", but collect items that are completely unrelated.

Anyway, I was thinking that it might be fun to hear from people who had collectors among their ancestors, or stories of the acquisition and current whereabouts of "the family silver". I don't have much to say about it myself; I am practically a first-generation silverphile. The best I can do is a set of sterling salt spoons of my great grandmother's. I never heard of there being any salt cellars, but I do have the spoons!

Anyway, I'd love to hear what others have to say!

Brent

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adelapt

Posts: 418
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 04-17-2006 10:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for adelapt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Brent, for an interesting idea.

Here's one for you.

One of my grandparents was a doctor, and in 1907 (the year my mother was born,)was presented with a silver jug by a grateful patient. Just before WW1 he went overseas to a medical conference in England, and perhaps unwisely, his nurse accompanied him. It appears he never returned, was eventually divorced, and went on to build a second (medical) career in England. A second family as well.

His only son was very bitter about this, and family records about the grandfather, and mementos of him, seem to have vanished over the years. All I ever saw of him was a grainy copy of a portrait of him from a book.

Three years or so ago I was viewing a local auction, and in the bottom of one of the cabinets was a silver jug, with inscription, and a handwritten tag on it mentioning that the doctor was local. That was the jug!

Needless to say, I bought it. It turned out that the deceased (estate) vendor had at one time been a neighbor of my grandmother after the separation. How they ended up with it (gift or sale) we'll never know. But it's now back in the family after the best part of a century.

For interests sake - the jug was what would have been called a "Queen Ann" pattern,vase shaped with the lower half gadrooned, and hallmarked Sheffield c1905. When I get a camera and some skill I'll hang a photo on here for you.

Cheers,
Adelapt

Some things take a while...
here's the image (I hope).

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 04-17-2006 10:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great story! It is wonderful that you were able to recover a bit of family history like that. I am often amazed at the "coincidences" that put people in the right place at the right time to find something important. A while back I was able to sell a woman a set of spoons that had almost certainly belonged to her great-great grandfather, and I was as thrilled as she was.

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outwest

Posts: 390
Registered: Nov 2005

iconnumber posted 04-18-2006 01:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for outwest     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was lucky enough to inherit a large amount of silver. No one else seemed interested in it, so I took it. I really knew nothing about it. Some was quite old (by American standards) and that made me think about those ancestors. I started polishing it up over time and examining it closer. I realized that some was handmade and some machine made and there was a difference. There is something about polishing silver that makes a person connect with it. Some things were marked coin and some sterling and some with nothing but initials. I didn't know what any of it meant. And there were utensil shapes that I didn't recognize as being for anything that I knew about.

Since I am one of those oddballs that likes to research I started checking it all out. It was like a puzzle and the more I found out the more interesting it became. The library was wonderful and so has this group been.

Now I keep my eyes open for other nice things. I have bought a few things in shops, a few things at estate sales and one thing on the internet that was inexpensive My newest purchase was an inexpensive plated (probably) spoon from the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago with the newly invented Ferris wheel engraved in the bowl. I have a glass paper weight from that worlds fair and had read about that Ferris wheel.

I am also interested in other old things and along with silver I enjoy porcelain, art, linens, cut glass, furniture, etc. You name it really but, silver seems the most interesting for some reason. Maybe it's that polishing thing. Or maybe it';s the possibility of finding something special in a cardboard box at a yard sale.

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dragonflywink

Posts: 953
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 04-18-2006 03:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Like Brent, I'm basically a "first generation silverphile". My mother's parents were both first-generation Americans, both families with some turmoil, any heirlooms brought from Europe or acquired here, were not passed down to our branch, with a few small exceptions from my grandmother, including a charming engraved Simons sterling thimble with our shared first initial. Same with my father's family, my paternal grandmother's family came to Providence from Wales in 1629, keep thinking they might have had some nice silver!

Mom was married right after WWII, decided on her silver pattern (Towle's Rambler Rose), real life set in, and until about 25 years ago, had just two lonely teaspoons in their original wrappers. She had a nice old set of Int'l Anniversary silverplate, but I can remember her taking out those spoons and wistfully speaking of completing her set. That may be where my respect for silver started. Now she has a large service for 12 of Towle's Candlelight, her taste didn't change much over the years.

Without any real heirlooms of my own, have developed a weakness for nice monograms of initials from my family tree (instant heirlooms!), and once found a coin mustard spoon with my Dad's initials and our somewhat uncommon last name. Another favorite is a Simons oval trinket box with one of those lovely intertwined multi-letter monograms and the inscription "To Sunshine July 17 1898 1899". Sunshine has been one of my nicknames since childhood, figured it was meant for me.

Speaking of returning pieces to their roots, I have a fondness for mid-century American and Scandinavian Art Pottery and had five of the same piece (different glazes) by a potter I'd been unable to track down. Decided to choose my favorite and sell the other four, ended up with a bidding battle between a prominent pottery dealer and someone else. The someone else was the artist's daughter, she only ended up with two, when I heard who she was, offered her the piece I kept. She asked me if I loved it and when my response was affirmative, she said the thought of other people appreciating her Dad's work made her just as happy as having the pieces herself. Thought that to be a very sweet sentiment.

Cheryl wink

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Brent

Posts: 1502
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 04-18-2006 08:47 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Brent     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
More great stories! Thanks for sharing. I seem to recall seeing another piece somewhere engraved "Sunshine". I wonder if it was a common term of endearment back around the turn of the century, like Darling or Honey? Does anyone know?

I just remembered another neat bit of luck that struck me. I once found a souvenir spoon from Stryker, a small town in northwest Ohio that happened to be my father-in-law's hometown. Since the population is under 2,000, even today, it is amazing that there was ever a souvenir spoon made, and that it came eventually to someone who would appreciate it.

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doc

Posts: 701
Registered: Jul 2003

iconnumber posted 04-18-2006 08:58 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for doc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am a third generation silverphile. Because my parents are still thankfully with us, I have not inherited much of the "family silver" yet. My grandmother gave me my first substantial piece of silver from her collection-an Irish Georgian ewer with fantastic chasing designs of angels and cherubs. It is and will always be my favorite piece.

When my mother, who is a retired antique dealer, closed her business, my father sold off his collection of coin spoons that he had amassed while going to shows and shops with my mother. He gave me the spoons that he had not identified, which started my love of coin spoons, and which still brings great fun and challenge as I try to whittle down the pile of unidentified makers (made much smaller thanks to this site, and to wev's geneaology work!).

My larger inheritance so far has been my parents' and grandmother's love and knowledge of silver, which I contine to inherit (slowly!!). That and my mother's extensive reference library!!

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hello

Posts: 200
Registered: Jun 2005

iconnumber posted 04-18-2006 05:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hello     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
My family silver consists of a dutch silver-plated nut dish, and two silver plated sugar spoons circa 1915, all from my Great-Grandmother. My Mom thinks they are sterling smile I don't see the point in telling her because it's not like they will be sold.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 04-24-2006 08:41 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
witzhall posted 04-24-2006 07:29 AM in the New Members' forum
quote:
My father is still very much alive at 92, so I enjoy my silver inheritance at his house! Among other items there that I love is this Tiffany salad set.




I don't know anything to speak of about Tiffany but the pattern is really beautiful, I think - so different from the plain 18th century silver that I'm more familiar with. I'm hoping that someone can tell me the name of the pattern and when it might have been made. I think the set was a wedding present to my grandparents in 1912. TIA!


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Paul Lemieux

Posts: 1755
Registered: Apr 2000

iconnumber posted 05-25-2006 10:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul Lemieux     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Most of the "antiques" in the family are barely antiques at all, since one of our more disreputable relatives lifted a great number of family and other antiques from storage in order to pawn them (based on anecdotes, this included some fine English pieces and some sort of large Tiffany trophy).

What's left is basically some pieces of 1920s jewelry, several pieces of 1920s Chinese silver (standard stuff: cigarette and card cases, etc., with typical dragon motifs, though of rather fine quality), and heavy '20s Chinese 23k gold jewelry (my great-grandparents lived in Shanghai for a while). Also several key fobs, pins, etc. from the Shangai Race Club.

Passed down with these items was a photograph depicting my great-grandparents' car, some kind of large and expensive luxury model, in the front seat of which sat the pet monkey. I am led to believe that a large portion of the funds used to make such Norma Desmond-like purchases as a pet monkey was eventually squandered at the Shangai Race Club, rather than saved for great-grandsons.

The only other silver items we have left are a pair of typical London salt cellars from the 1750s, and a large London tankard, circa 173x, with a period engraving that reads, "Ma". Judging by the signs of use on the tankard, Ma made frequent use of that particular vessel.

[This message has been edited by Paul Lemieux (edited 05-25-2006).]

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dragonflywink

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Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 05-25-2006 10:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
biggrin
Gee Paul, your family sounds FUN!!! (Aside from the greedy pawner.)

Cheryl wink

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Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 05-31-2006 04:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I was younger and slightly more silver-obsessive than I am now, I used to go through my mother's silver drawers when I went home to visit to make sure she hadn't given anything away as wedding gifts. She once gave away a Gorham "Medallion" pickle dish that had belonged to Ulysses S. Grant. She has since learned the error of her darling ways, but I still check out the silver, just as if I'm visiting friends. I'm pretty sure I trust my mother now. Apparently Julia and Ulysses S. Grant had a whole service of Gorham "Medallion" flatware, but all that came down to my mother were two tablespoons--and I very kindly let my brother have one. Big of me, ain't it?

I have a wonderful Tiffany "Persian" fish slice and fork, from about 1880, that was presumably a wedding gift to my great-grandparents (on the Dietz side). It's virtually all that's left, because my grandparents kept getting burglarized while they were in Florida and lost most of their silver. Recently, tho', while visiting a cousin in Albuquerque, he showed me a flatware service in Tiffany's "Japanese" from my great-grandfather's sister. I was envious, but somehow gratified to know that someone in my family had a clue in the late 1870s.

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IJP

Posts: 326
Registered: Oct 2004

iconnumber posted 05-31-2006 07:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for IJP     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi there, Mr. Dietz:

Those are all amazing anecdotes, and I must confess I'm a little envious myself of your family's fortuitous inheritances! My own family is of modest origin and never really collected silver. I have only serendipity to thank that I was ever introduced to the silver trade, and admittedly my tastes have very quickly become discriminatingly rich. I've a few times had the opportunity to handle some of the fine pieces I could only dream of owning, and from time to time I'm able to acquire for my own collection a fine, if not especially desirable, piece (typically good-quality Russian silver by lesser known Imperialist-era makers). perhaps with any luck, one day several generations from now, the collection I am slowly assembling will fall into the grateful and appreciative hands of my own descendants...

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 02-02-2010 11:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
My old post from posted 04-17-2006 10:22 PM long-promised photo on it now...
Cheers,
Adelapt

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Ulysses Dietz
Moderator

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 02-03-2010 10:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Another pathetic silver heritage story:

    When I was still a youngster, my family was unloading boxes of rubbish from my grandfather's house (which had been his father-in-law's house). I rescued a few silver objects, which I still have; but one thing haunts me. There was a teaset, three or four pieces, that was probably coin silver and from the 1820s or 30s...but I wasn't knowledgeable enough at that point to understand that. All I remember is that the spouts were DUCK HEADS. I could kick myself to not snagging that. It was auctioned off (for nothing, I'll bet) at Palmiter's Auction house in Waterville, NY, probably in the early 1970s. I've love to just see it again so that I can understand what it is, and possibly even who originally owned it. No one else in my family has any memory of this, so it is the curse of being a curator.

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denimrs

Posts: 102
Registered: Dec 2005

iconnumber posted 08-15-2010 11:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for denimrs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello,

I have been hanging out in the new members forum for a while and this is my first post as full member. I have enjoyed reading this thread and have some family silver to tell you about -- two pieces.

When my grandmother passed away and the house was being cleared for sale, my mother and aunt told me I could have her flatware if I wanted. Of course I did. It is Gorham Buttercup. While clearing it out of the drawer in the sideboard I also came across a very huge and very black fork that I assumed at the time was some sort of serving fork, and they told me I could have that too. It cleaned up nicely and turned out to be a dinner fork in the Tiffany Custom Engraved pattern. And, it also turned out to have a wonderfully and fully engraved back that told its story. It was a gift to my grandfather when he graduated in the 1902 class of Stevens Institute of Technology in Newark. What I love most is that it was a gift from the landlady of the apartment he rented. Here it is:

On the back of the handle:

And, finishing on the back of the fork, S I T for the school:

My other favorite is a silverplate bread tray which was a wedding gift to my grandparents in 1905. The tray is grand and very Art Nouveau. When my aunt sent it to me, she included a note that said she was always very fond of it "tho your Mom said it gave her the whillies as it made her think of Ophelia floating down the river." Of course I now always think the same thing.

And, one of the two "Ophelia's"

It was made by E.B.Webster Manufacturing:

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11202
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 08-15-2010 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It is great to discover untold family stories. Thanks for sharing.

I think you have a typeo in the above:
1309 class should really be 1902

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denimrs

Posts: 102
Registered: Dec 2005

iconnumber posted 08-15-2010 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denimrs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Scott Martin:
.....I think you have a typeo in the above: 1309 class should really be 1902

Thank you Scott, and you are correct. It has been corrected, thank heavens. I have been having a hard time getting edits to "take", but I see that one did.

Elizabeth

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denimrs

Posts: 102
Registered: Dec 2005

iconnumber posted 08-15-2010 06:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for denimrs     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In the message above I wanted to show a picture of the entire fork in case anyone is not familiar with the Custom Engraved pattern. After a half dozen attempts to add it, I give up. Hopefully it will work better as a new post. So, here is the picture -- I hope!

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middletom

Posts: 467
Registered: May 2004

iconnumber posted 12-17-2010 06:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for middletom     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When my cousin Bill Randle died a few years ago, his daughter Betsy could not hold onto the family home. Bill had appointed acousin of his to be executioner of the estate. It turned out that that cousin was married to an antique dealer and between them they robbed Betsy blind. There was a great deal of silver that I had cataloged for her, including some Tiffany pieces. All of that disappeared with virtually no compensation to Betsy. Eventually, other cousins threw that man out, but the damage had been done. So much silver that the family had had for years was gone.

middletom

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