Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Silver - Is it Sterling [ excellent ] ?
I have been interested in Silver from a very young age.
As many of you know from my book, I was influenced by the book Treasure Island. All those stacks of Silver coins in a treasure chest have never been erased from my mind. Coins have been minted from silver for many, many years. Even in Christ's day there were gold and silver coins.
Perhaps the best known use of silver was when the Czars of Russia commissioned Faberge to create the Easter eggs made of gold, platinum, silver and precious stones. We hear about these quite often.
The Faberge Eggs began in 1884 by the Czar of Russia as a gift to his wife Czarina Maria. Easter was celebrated by exchanging eggs and three kisses. The Czar had Faberge to make one of these special eggs each year, and when presented and opened, there was always a surprise inside.
This continued for 12 years until the death of Alexander the III. Then, his son, Nicholas the II, picked it up and it was continued. Faberge then began to make eggs for coronations, anniveraries and special events. These eggs contained precious gemstones, wonderful enameling and valueable metals.
Fifty six eggs were made for the Czars collection, and each one is worth millions of dollars today. If you search on the internet, I am sure that you will find pictures of some of the eggs, and they are exquisite. Faberge made many other pieces and some can be found today. The quality of the workmanship by this company will never be surppassed.
There have been many fakes made over the years so be aware. True Faberge artwork will have the metalsmiths mark as well as the Russian assay mark showing its purity. There will also be a mark for the city or region. You can find these marks on the internet also. There are many small pieces of Faberge, and if you are at a estate sale or garage sale, always be looking for silver items that have Russian writing and other marks on the bottom. Watch to see if the mark is too clear, because the real ones were applied before the piece was finished, so often the marks are faint or partially missing.
Not all Faberge is worth thousands of dollars, but its value will always surppass that of ordinary pieces. In this country, silver companies started about 1842. However, in the USA we didn't have any offical stamps or date letters. There also was no guild hall to keep records. Coin silver, especially American, has become very collectible and you still can find a piece of it in your search. Coin silver is 900/1000 fine with 100/1000 copper.
This was silver that the early silversmiths used when they could not find sterling. Often with coin silver, there will only be the city of origin or silversmiths mark. America had some of the best silversmiths that ever worked because they were fleeing horrible conditions in their home countries. You will often find pieces marked Boston or Massachusetts. Coin silver is sought after in the south because of the war, and you will find a lot of it was made in Kentucky. Silver can be polished without damaging the value like most antiques. Silverplate should be passed by, unless it is super rare and I do mean super. Can you share srories with us about your silver finds?