Kirk Stieff Silver

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Though Steiff Silver and Kirk & Son Silver are now happily partnered, 'twasn't always so. Charles Steiff and Samuel Kirk were rivaling silversmiths, with rivalring businesses in Baltimore, Maryland in the mid- to late-1800s. They were both most famous for being masters of an ancient technique called "repousse," by which the interior of a silver piece was hammered out, to create raised and breathtakingly ornate designs. Many of their designs, inspired perhaps out of competition with each other, remain immensely popular to this day.

For example, consider Kirk's Repousse and his competitor's Steiff Rose. Repousse, which features an intricately raised design of riotous roses, was created by Kirk in 1828. In 1892, a remarkably similar design titled "Steiff Rose," made its debut. The two are so alike in design that they could be sisters--like Snow White and Rose Red. It is only appropriate that now these two silver patterns are now part of the same family.

Kirk Steiff Silver: Raised Designs and Long Lines

However, not all the Kirk Steiff silver patterns are so wrought. Many of their patterns are surprisingly streamlined, compared to the often busy designs of most sterling flatware. Although there are plenty of Kirk-Steiff designs that feature complicated and ornate patterns, many of their most arresting pieces have design lines that are long, clean, and extremely elegant in their simplicity. Some examples of these more "modern" looking (some of which were designed as early as 1850) are Old Maryland, Winslow, Paramount, and Williamsburg.

Many American silverware companies have been producing the same patterns for hundreds of years. Kirk's "Repousse" and "Steiff Rose," are but two examples of popular patterns which have been in demand for over 100 years. This means there are hundreds, if not thousands, of individual pieces of vintage Kirk Steiff silverware available for collectors. Good bets for finding them include estate sales, flea markets, and online vintage sterling retailers.


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