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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-06-2019 01:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I found this site during a search for information about a set of demitasse spoons that I inherited from my grandmother. From what I have learned so far, they are Russian silver. They are marked "84" followed by characters that I do not recognize. There is also a mark showing a standing animal (bear, wolf?) within a diamond. The animal is facing to the left. This silver was brought to America from Latvia in 1912 when my grandmother immigrated here. Her maiden name initials are engraved on the spoons.

I have absolutely no interest in selling any silver. Buying more? Possibly. I like the idea of a tangible "investment" that can be used by our family, and then be passed down to our grandchildren.

I also just like silver. I bought a single sterling silver spoon on ebay as "my spoon" to make tea (I'm semi-addicted to having several cups of Earl Grey tea each day). I just enjoy seeing the transformation when I polish that spoon (also hoping I can find some good info on how to polish and care for silver here).

I was a bit disappointed at the weight of that tea spoon, and perhaps some folks can offer some guidance on how to locate sterling silver flatware that is on the heavy side rather than where the maker has tried to keep it as light as possible to keep the price down. I fully expect to pay a fair price for silver, so I'm not looking for lightweight pieces.

Another thing I hope to learn here is where to buy silver - ebay? pawn shop? jewelry store? auction house? department store? I just don't know where to start, and any tips would be appreciated. I have not yet started searching the forum yet, so this is here not as a request, but to let folks know more about who I am and why I'm here.

I'll post a photo of the spoons once I figure out how to do that here.

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-06-2019 09:03 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Welcome.

There are lots of silver spoons available in thrift shops, antique stores, and online. If the weight is important to you, either look for ones in person or pay attention to the weight the seller gives in the listing (or ask the seller how much the spoon weighs).

The weight of a typical spoon varied a lot over the centuries, as silver mines were discovered and then played out, or as fashions changed, so the age of your spoon will probably affect the weight.

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-06-2019 09:19 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Polly.

Although spoons are all I have at this point, I would like to get complete set of "standard" flatware - knife, spoon, 1 or 2 forks. Maybe 10 sets. Not interested in all the extra stuff that we would likely never use.

Perhaps my best course of action is to get with a couple of reputable antique dealers in the area and let them know what I'm looking for - then wait.

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asheland

Posts: 917
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 11:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Welcome to the forums!

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 11:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you! Lots to learn, and this looks like a good place for it.

Opinion question: If I'm not all that concerned about the antique value and just looking for a top quality set of sterling flatware, is it best to go with new or used? Is there a significant price difference, by weight, between new and used?

Again, my thanks to all for a warm welcome.

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ahwt

Posts: 2124
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 03:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Welcome to the Forum. Before you start buying I would go to several shops and antique shows that have silver dealers and just pick up their different patterns in flatware. By actually touching the silver I think you will get a better appreciation on what size and weight you like. Many of the patterns made in the 20th century came in two sizes; a luncheon size and a dinner size. Some even had selected pieces in an even larger size called the banquet size. Most dealers I know really love to talk about silver so you can learn a lot just by doing that.
One used to be able to go into a department store an see table settings with different pattern of China and silver. They may still have that in New York, but in the hinterland
those days are gone.
I would suggest that older silver is better to look for that new items as the craftsmanship in new items is not that good. The exception to that is if you buy something new from a company that has real silversmiths making their wares.
I think you will have a lot of fun just looking and getting the feel of old plate.

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11321
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 03:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
From Deland to Miami Beach 266 miles, Time: 4 hours 8 mins
Check out the:
The Original Miami Antique Show
January 26 – 29, 2019
Miami Beach Convention Center

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 03:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, AHWT.

I don't recall ever seeing silver in a department store, but it's not something that I had gone out of my way to see. Cross that idea off my list. Besides, antique stores are just fun to poke around in.

There is a large auction house near here, and we've gotten to know the owners pretty well over the years. I'll check with them and see what they have to say. There's also a small shop that I've dealt with in the past that makes a point of selling silver - just need to find him again.

Again, thank you for the help and guidance!

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 03:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott - thank you for the tip. Hopefully I won't have to head down there though. I lived down in that area until 1971, and every visit since has left me feeling grateful that I'm now living on a dirt road where the cows down the road make more noise than the traffic. ;-)

Again, thank you!

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Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11321
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 01-07-2019 03:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's generally the best East coast winter antiques show. Lots of silver, gold, diamonds, jewelry, paintings, and so much other stuff.

People/dealers from everywhere...California to Maine, South America to the EU.

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Kimo

Posts: 1595
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-14-2019 11:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Stephen and welcome to the forum. You are lucky to have something nice to remember your grandmother and your heritage from her side of your family, and something that you can use on a regular basis. It would be very helpful if you could please post some clear photos of one of the spoons in its entirety (front and back) and a third photo of a closeup of the markings on it. This can help us identify it better and it will allow us to enjoy seeing your spoons which is one of the reasons for this forum - for everyone to see and appreciate interesting silver. Here is a link to step by step instructions on how to add photos to your posting here: How to post photos

You can search posts on how to care for your silver and you will find many, but to boil them down to just a few pointers: 1) do not wash your silver in your dishwasher; 2)do not use liquid silver "dip" as it will remove the patina along with the tarnish and it has a cancer causing chemical in it; 3) do use a name brand silver polishing paste and a very well washed and soft 100 percent cotton cloth to polish your silver; 4) do not ever use an electric buffing wheel; 5) do not store your silver near anything that has sulfur such as rubber, a gas stove, foods that contain sulfur such as eggs, etc. Minute amounts of sulfur in the air, or washing silver in something like well water are what makes tarnish happen. You cannot get away from it entirely, but you can slow it down with a bit of care. A very simple step to keep most tarnish away is to just to use your silver regularly.

On places to buy silver, Scott has given you an excellent recommendation to attend a major antique show where silver dealers will be present. Spend time looking at everything they have and literally get a feel for all kinds of silver and learn about the major makers of it. Study silver for while before you decide on what to buy. Buy a reference book on the countless patterns and makers before you decide what to buy. My suggestion is that you also look at some newly produced silver by going to the major higher end department stores. In my opinion, old silver from the late 1800s and into the early 1900s is of significantly higher quality than the same patterns made by the same companies today. I think the reason is the amount of hand finishing by silversmiths of the old silver is substantial while there seems to be little hand finishing in silver made today, with the one exception being small amount of silverware that is entirely hand made today by skilled silversmiths. One example of this is Old Newbury Crafters in Massachusetts who handcraft every piece from start to finish. Look and learn and decide for yourself what you would like to own and eventually pass down to your heirs.

[This message has been edited by Kimo (edited 01-14-2019).]

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-14-2019 11:39 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kimo, thank you so much for all the great information! I really appreciate that you took the time to help someone new.

I've been using Wright's Silver Cream to polish the silver. I hadn't considered the sulfur in well water, but that's what we have, so I'll just have to work with it.

I've been sort of afraid that old silver would be badly scratched, but maybe that's not the case. Is there a good way to get scratches out? I've read that there used to be a type of jeweler's rouge that was good for removing such scratches and restoring old silver.

I'll definitely check the link on posting photos and then add them here. Whatever information I can get will be greatly appreciated.

Again - thank you!

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Kimo

Posts: 1595
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-16-2019 10:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
There is a great deal of very old silver that is not scratched, other than micro wear but that is desirable patina to most people. My suggestion is to only buy old silver that is in excellent condition. If you already have something that has deep scratches, depending on how bad they are, you may need to go to a jeweler who is an expert with a buffing wheel which is not something you should do unless really necessary as it removes not only the patina but a layer of the silver itself. For the same reason my suggestion is to buy old silver without monograms. It will be a bit more expensive, but removing monograms involves harsh buffing to remove enough silver to get below the depth of the engraving which is not something most collectors would recommend. If you must buy something with monograms my suggestion is to find ones that are so ornate that it is almost impossible to figure out just what the monogram is making it more of an interesting design rather than someone else's initials. The one exception that I might point out is if you find some silver from someone famous and their monogram actually adds to the value rather than detracts like ordinary people's monograms do.

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-16-2019 11:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Kimo. You have eased my mind about buying old silver rather than new. The silver that I have now has a monogram, but since it was my grandmother's, it greatly adds to the value to me. It's just a small set of demitasse spoons, so it's not really an issue regarding the value. When it comes to what I'm wanting to buy, though, it will definitely not be monogrammed.

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ahwt

Posts: 2124
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-17-2019 12:07 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I rather like old silver with attractive monograms. When I buy old silver I know it was owned and used by someone before me so whether or not it is monogrammed seems inconsequential. However, if the monogram is unattractive or was not a contemporary one and the silver is not unique in some way I probably would not buy it.
I do see a difference in price on silver from 1900 on with non-monogrammed silver going for a higher price. This seems particularly true for flatware patterns that are readily available. That probably means I am out of step with most views on monograms.

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asheland

Posts: 917
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-17-2019 10:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I understand regular patterns without monograms being desirable, but in my opinion, with the earlier and/or better patterns and earlier silver, I _prefer_ a monogram or crest _as long as it's contemporary to the piece_

Example, Lady's by Gorham, 1868.
I prefer this monogram be here versus no monogram:

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-17-2019 02:30 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Asheland, do I understand correctly that the piece in the photo is from 1868? It's beautiful! I'll now make it abundantly clear that I've a rank beginner at all this - What is it?

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Polly

Posts: 1910
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 01-17-2019 06:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Be still, my heart, Asheland!!

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asheland

Posts: 917
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-18-2019 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks Polly! smile
Hi Stephen, the pattern, Lady's by Gorham was patented in 1868, but could have been made at any time after that, however, given the rarity of the pattern, it likely wasn't being made after c.1875-80.

My piece is a serving scoop, I'm not exactly sure what kind of server...

I estimate my example dates between 1868-75. Sometimes you can narrow it down by the retailer mark (if it has one) mine is a Washington DC mark and I forget off the top of my head which retailer it is, but I remember they were open around the time of my estimate...


Lady's is an exceptional pattern and after literally looking for an example for 20 years, I finally found this piece last March!

More pictures:


There's also this variant where the hand is at the other end, sometimes called "Olive Branch"

[This message has been edited by asheland (edited 01-18-2019).]

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asheland

Posts: 917
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-18-2019 10:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Olive Branch dates to around the same period, 1870ish

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-18-2019 02:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Amazing! Thank you for the details.

The 1860's date brings to mind another question. Are you aware of any pattern that portrays or would bring to mind the antebellum period, plantation life, the Confederacy, etc.? That's a big part of my personal heritage, and I'd love to own a part of it.

[This message has been edited by StephenClayMcGehee (edited 01-18-2019).]

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asheland

Posts: 917
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-18-2019 03:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The 1860's had a few patterns, but not many, a Google search would yield a few pictures.

If the civil war period and southern silver interests you, you may want to explore southern coin silver. There are several threads about it on here.

The pre-civil war southern silver is usually prized by collectors and it's usually scarce and expensive.

I have a few pieces and I'm glad to have them.

Here are some threads to explore:

Marquand & Paulding

Does anybody here collect southern coin?

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H Bradshaw

Posts: 30
Registered: Mar 2015

iconnumber posted 01-19-2019 02:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for H Bradshaw     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As an old Southern girl, I equate most antebellum architecture/furnishings with the Greek Revival style & the 2 complimentary patterns that come to mind are 'Grecian' by John Wendt & 'Grecian' by Gorham, both from the 1860's. But if I were trying to replicate a period setting, Southern coin silver would likely be more historically correct.

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ahwt

Posts: 2124
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-19-2019 06:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ahwt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Two books that you would enjoy are Silver in America 1840-1940 by Charles L. Venable and American Silver Flatware by Noel D. Turner. www.BookFinder.com. is a good site to find ones for sale and https://www.worldcat.org/ is a good site to find one in a library close to your home.
The Fiddle, Fiddle Thread, Kings and Oval Thread were all very popular patterns before 1860. I think in the south Fiddle Thread is the one I see most of followed by the Kings pattern. The plain Fiddle I think is the earliest of these patterns and the Oval Thread in is the latest of these patterns. For some reason I have found a lot of the Kings pattern with Charleston or Mobile connections.

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-19-2019 09:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thanks for all the great info. "Silver in America" has been ordered ($7.45 from AbeBooks - my favorite book store) and is on the way.

I looked up those two Grecian patterns. As much as I love the Antebellum South, neither of those two really appeal to my wife and I, so we'll keep looking.

Again, thanks to each of you for the helpful replies! It's deeply appreciated.

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asheland

Posts: 917
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-20-2019 09:14 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You're going to LOVE Silver in America!
That's a great book and you got an insane deal on that!

That's actually where I first discovered Lady's by Gorham and always wanted an example...

Congrats! Please update when you've had a chance to read through it...

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-20-2019 10:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Will do, Asheland.

I've just got to say that this is an awesome forum - maybe not the most up to date forum software (I read the story on it), but the people are fantastic. The welcome I've experienced here just makes me want to dig deeper, learn more, then find and buy the silver set that is the best fit for us.

Again, thank you to all who have replied - and to all who posted elsewhere on the forum that has helped me learn more.

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asheland

Posts: 917
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-21-2019 12:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Indeed happy to help! This is a huge part of my silver hobby/passion is talking with other collectors, studying, etc.

I especially like to reach out to new collectors. I got started while still in high school!

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-22-2019 07:33 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Demitasse spoons I inherited from my grandmother. These came with her when she immigrated here from Latvia in 1912.

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-22-2019 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The bowl of the spoons have a gold color to them. Can anyone tell me about that? I have heard the term "gold wash" - is that what this is? Any details on what it actually is and how it is done? Again, thank you.

Also, the monogram on them is for my grandmother's maiden name - Lisette Alkowsky.

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Kimo

Posts: 1595
Registered: Mar 2003

iconnumber posted 01-23-2019 02:33 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Kimo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gold wash or gold flash is like gold plating only with a much, much thinner layer. Typically the layer of gold is less than 7 millionths of an inch thick which is just enough to give it the look of gold. It can be polished off with vigorous or frequent polishing. It is applied using the electroplating process, only applying this process in a much quicker way than doing gold plating would.

[This message has been edited by Kimo (edited 01-23-2019).]

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asheland

Posts: 917
Registered: Nov 2003

iconnumber posted 01-23-2019 10:02 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for asheland     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What Kimo said... biggrin
A lot of silver from the 2nd half of the 19th century had the bowls of the spoons gilt.

That's a very nice set of spoons, I love the original box!

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 01-30-2019 07:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A progress report:

I now have the two books that I ordered: "Silver in America", and "Silverware of the 20th Century: The Top 250 Patterns", and have been studying them.

My wife and I have decided on a pattern that we both like - "Southern Colonial".

I see that this pattern was originally made by International Silver, and then by Fine Arts. Is there any noticeable difference in quality or in weight/piece between the two makers?

Thanks again for all the help I've received here. You all have been a real blessing to us as we dive into the deep pool of silver flatware.

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dragonflywink

Posts: 971
Registered: Dec 2002

iconnumber posted 02-07-2019 12:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for dragonflywink     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just popping in to welcome a fellow Floridian and mention that a silver dealer who was almost a mentor to me decades ago (when we were both quite young) is in Deland, on Woodland near Orange City...

~Cheryl

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StephenClayMcGehee

Posts: 15
Registered: Jan 2019

iconnumber posted 02-07-2019 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for StephenClayMcGehee     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thank you, Cheryl - for both the welcome and the tip. We ended up ordering from Antique Cupboard in Wisconsin (through ebay). The set of Southern Colonial flatware arrived yesterday. Beautiful! We have our annual Confederate Independence Day dinner planned with friends on the 23rd, so we'll have our first chance to use the silver with guests. Looking forward to it.

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