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Author Topic:   Rookie needs help

Posts: 1
Registered: Nov 2000

iconnumber posted 11-05-2000 06:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for hazh     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was surfing and found this site. Hope someone can help. I just inherited some silver pieces and do not know what they are nor how to properly care for them. The first question is "What are they?"
  1. I have a 6 piece tea service that has "Reed & Barton 1796 Winthrop" above this is a shield with an 'E' a shield with a 'P' and two circles, one with an 'R' and the other with an 'S'. On top is a circle with a ring that looks like Saturn. I take it that 1796 is not the date since the company was not around then.
  2. The next piece is a small creamer and tray. The mark says "Warranted by Homan Silver Plate Co, Quadruple Plate". This is in a circle around an anchor. Under this is '2165' then a mark that says 'Special Metal' that has a cup with an 'N' infront of a hammer. There is also an 'E5695' etched in the bottom.
  3. The last is a pair of candle sticks that says 'Alvin Sterling, Cement Filled, Reinforced with Rod of Other Metal, 341'.
The next question is, what is the best way to store and display these pieces? It would be a shame to hide them away, but I do not want to spend every weekend polishing.

Any ideas??
Thanks!! wink

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June Martin
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Posts: 1223
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 11-05-2000 08:55 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for June Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
How wonderful to have inherited some silver! It is a lovely way to remember someone...

Photographs are always helpful, but I'll tell you what I can sight unseen.

The Reed and Barton tea set sounds like it is silver plate because of the E&P in shields. This most likely stands for Electro Plated. I looked in a few references but didn't find anything that seems to match your description of the marks. I think it is safe to say that Winthrop is most likely the pattern name. Reed and Barton often made hollowware to match flatware patterns. Maybe someone else can shed some light on this.

The Homan Silver Plate Co. creamer and tray are silverplate and most likely date between about 1896 and 1915. The firm was located in Cincinnati and about 1915 the name was changed to Homan Manufacturing Company and was out of business in 1941.

Alvin began in 1886 in Irvington, New Jersey. The factory was moved to Sag Harbor, Long Island in 1895. In 1928 it was purchased by Gorham. The cement filling at the bottom of the candlesticks is to keep them from tipping over. Be careful not to drop the candlesticks as this will fracture the cement and cause the cement to rattle if shaken.

I'll let Scott talk about the care and cleaning of silver.

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Scott Martin
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Posts: 11377
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 11-05-2000 08:59 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regarding the care of silver, I could go into much detail about cleaning and polishing silver . . .

The basics:

  • Whenever possible, avoid polishing silverplate. Silver plate is a thin coating of pure silver on a base metal (i.e., copper). Pure silver is much softer that Sterling and polishing will remove some silver eventually revealing the base metal.

  • When silver or silverplate is tarnished polishing is the only effective way to remove the tarnish. Before polishing always begin by first washing with a mild soap and pure fresh water (i.e. distilled water). If you use tap water please be certain it doesn't contain sulphur or salts. Towel dry.

    There are many different silver polishes to select from. Pick a polish that doesn't contain rouge (they are usually a pinkish color) since the rouge is abrasive and will remove silver along with the tarnish.

  • Once polished, you can keep silver looking great by making sure the silver doesn't come in contact with sulphur. For example, egg yolks contain sulphur. And make sure you wash your silver (see step one) on a regular schedule. How often depends on where you live and the time of year. There is sulphur in the air and the more sulphur there is, the more often washing will be required. With the proper schedule of simple washing and drying you may never have to polish your silver or silver plate again.

PS. The "dips" (i.e., Tarn-X) are good for a quick clean but don't really do a thorough job of getting the surface clean. Usually after several cleanings with a "dip" the silver begins to look greyish and you will end up polishing again. The dips also remove the "good tarnish" that provides the shadows and contrast that make your silver pattern stand out. My advice, is to use "dips" sparingly and they are best used on vermeil (gold wash).

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