Vintage Silver

Written by Blaire Chandler-Wilcox
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Searching for vintage silver items can be great fun. Trawling through flea markets, estate and garage sales, and online vintage silver sites can be likened to a latter-day treasure hunt. Finding a piece that delights, which one can also afford, can be thrilling for the real enthusiast.

For those new to vintage silver collecting, it helps to have just a basic knowledge of hallmarks, silver standards and such. This is particularly true when shopping online. Many vintage silver sites have great photographs, but little detailed information on a piece's history. Knowing how to "read" a vintage silver piece can help you be confident that the piece you're looking at has value.

Vintage Silver: British Hallmarks, German Silver

For instance, hallmarks are the stamps imprinted into coin, sterling, and silverplate objects. Hallmarks can be confusing, because there are so many, and even experts agree that there aren't any solid definitive guides. But one good rule of thumb is that all British sterling is hallmarked, typically with a lion passant or image of a lion, facing the left, with one raised foot.

Another critical bit of information is that "nickel silver," often referred to as "German silver," contains no silver content whatsoever. German silver is an inexpensive alloy of nickel, copper and zinc. While it's possible that a German silver object could have historical or sentimental significance, do know German silver has little inherent raw-materials value.

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