60-Second Silver: Use marks to ID solid silver objects

Normally, if an object is solid silver it will be indicated on the piece. Examples of silver marks are: Sterling, 925, 925/1000, 900, Coin, Standard, 9584 (English Britannia), 800 (Germany), 84 (Russia), etc. Most American-made objects are marked on the bottoms of holloware and on the reverse on flatware. Foreign-made objects can be marked most anywhere, and are sometimes accompanied by additional marks applied in the country’s assay office which tests the quality of the precious metal during its manufacture.

Rarely will you find a piece made of solid silver that isn’t stamped. If an object isn’t stamped, a non-invasive identification method is judging by tarnish color. Silverplate will exhibit a blue-purple hue, where solid silver will exhibit grey-black.

Take care when slicing on silver

Roast beef looks elegant when presented on a silver tray. But under that beautiful presentation may lie true ugliness, unknowingly created by you. Those deep slicing lines (and possibly linear dents) will absolutely decrease the tray’s value. Never cut meat or anything else on a sterling or silverplated tray. Always cut food on a cutting board, then place it on the silver.

On silverplated trays, this is especially important, since you will be cutting through the silver plating and into the base metal, requiring the piece to be refinished and replated. Never let food sit on a tray longer than necessary as salty juices may, over time, increase the possibility of surface corrosion and pitting. ?

Jeffrey Herman encourages anyone with silver-related questions that can’t be answered on his Web site hermansilver.com to contact him. He may be reached at 800-339-0417or jeff@hermansilver.com or at PO Box 786, West Warwick, RI 02893.

Jeffrey Herman started Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation in 1984, and has repaired and reconstructed everything from historically important tankards, tea services, and tureens to disposal-damaged flatware. Herman has worked at Gorham as a designer, sample maker, and technical illustrator and at Pilz Ltd., where he learned the fine art of restoration. Herman has a BFA degree in silversmithing and is the founder of the Society of American Silversmiths.



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