Hello again and welcome once more to "Anthony's Everyday Advice." These little tips and ideas found here that add elegance to the everyday should give life an enriching boost that we often forget to inject. Granted not everyone can add a front porch and porch swing to their home easily or even find time to take a day trip, there are useful, elegant accessories we can add to our homes for very little money that add elegance, charm, and a story to our enviroments. Antique silver is one of those accessories.
I know what you're thinking. "Silver. Inexpensive?" It's true. I don't mean that you can find a solid silver punch bowl for $20.00 or discover sterling candlesticks sticking out of a garbage can on the street. You can, however, find random silver spoons in most price ranges and you may even find a "weighted" silver candlestick or two at a Flea Market for a reasonable price. You can find silver in any style you like. Whether you prefer a traditional, ornate, or streamline look, there's a piece of silver out there for you. Having a couple pieces of silver out when entertaining often gets noticed and it's nice to have a story to share behind a piece or two.
Before you go start hunting out silver, please, allow me to impart a little knowledge that's helped me. Solid silver that you're likely to find should be marked ".925" or "Sterling" and not "EPNS."
".925" means that a piece is 92.5% pure silver with 7.5% of alloys added to strengthen the soft pure silver. This mixture creates "Sterling" silver. In some countries you'll find silver marked ".800," meaning the piece is 80% pure silver with 20% alloys added. I've noticed these pieces tend to be older one from Italy. In the United States and England silver is considered sterling when at the rate of 92.5% purity.
"EPNS" means that the pieces is "Electroplated Silver." this means that a piece of flatware, or a candlestick, or tray, or coffee pot (etc.) is made of copper or nickel or another metal and is electrically fused with a thin (and I mean thin) later of silver. Pieces marked "EPNS" are not solid or sterling silver. Do not be taken by a ride by a dealer or yard sale host who say otherwise. They are either ignorant or attempting to con you.
Earlier in the post I mentioned "weighted" pieces. These usually items bigger flatware. The items you will find typically marked as weighted silver will be things like bowls, candlesticks, and display pieces like trophies, some older punch bowls, cakestands, and compotes. These pieces often hollow goods made with a decently thick layer or silver and filled with cement to give them strength. So if you find a heavy silver fruitbowl at a dealer and it's marked "weighted" on the bottom you know it's not completely solid silver.
But now that we've gone through the technical stuff allow me to relay a good experience or two with you....
Several months ago I was at a Flea Market and in a dealer's stall I found an old spoon. It was highly victorian in decoration with the Old Man of the Mountain displayed on it's shaft and "July 4 94" engraved in script in the bowl of the spoon. Well that spoon had ot come home to New Hampshire and I only paid $10.00 for it. I use it in my sugar bowl when I serve tea and every so often someone asks about it's story, but most of the time people comment on it.
Last Christmas Iwas at my grandmother's house and, when moving some furniture in the living room, noticed a small but pretty plate on the coffee table. The plate itself was of glass with a silver rim framing the glass plate. According to Nana these were known as "Decanter Plates" and bottle and decanters were placed on them to keep stains off tableclothes. People used these for 200 years or so. Nana said a friend had given it to her years ago and that she wanted me to have it as she knew I would appreciate it and use it when hosting people. It's one of my favorite pieces and I like being able to say it's a piece of "family silver." Hahaha.
Well there it is. Please go out and find yourself a nice little trinket ot display and use. There's a wonderful aura of old silver. Flames look a little warmer when reflected off a silver candlestick. Coffee and tea looks a little more special when served with old teaspoons you've collected. And here's one more arguement on behalf of old silver. The more you use the pieces and wash them in warm sudsy water, the less you have to polish them.
I hope you find some great pieces on your hunts and feel free to comment about any of my posts and message me with any questions you have. Thanks for reading!