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The Beauty Of Old Silver
Why is old silver beautiful? First of all, it was handmade and has individuality. Second, it has a patina that old metals and woods acquire with years of hand rubbing and exposure to light and air. Third, all the decoration that was applied to old silver was done by some expert engraver who followed the contours of the piece, adding to its beauty. Silver, like all precious metals, appeals to everyone who sees it because it suggests the luxury of good living.
Modern silver is rolled out by mechanical pressure that takes much of the life out of it. Old silver was handmade from the time the coins were melted until the piece was ready for use. It was hammered, shaped, heated, and worked with great patience until it acquired some flavor of the maker's personality.
Note how simple the finest pieces of old silver are. Note the hammer marks that were carefully polished but not erased. Examine carefully the delicate flutes on coffee and teapots, the tiny feet of cream pitchers, the handles of exquisite workmanship on tankards and mugs. There is much to study in the diversified engraving on all types of silver, especially in the work of the craftsmen of the late eighteenth century. Examine the many kinds of finials on tea, and coffeepots, sugar bowls, or any covered piece. Most of them are beautifully wrought, as are all the other fine details.
Indeed, intrinsic value is rarely the stimulus for collecting old silver. The beauty of the pieces, the sentiment each holds, the very feel of the smooth surfaces, these are the reasons for collecting.