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Silver Marks And Makers

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The marks of early American silversmiths are interesting but it takes study to know them. Many silversmiths used marks that look alike to the untrained eye, but each had some little characteristic that differentiates it the shape of the letters or of one letter, a dot, or the type of enclosure around name or initials. With a small but powerful magnifying glass you can bring each mark into sharp focus and compare it in detail with those shown in books of silver marks.

The period of time in which each craftsman worked and the type of pieces he made constitute an important part of your knowledge of old silver. If you know when a man worked and if the mark on a certain piece agrees with his dates, you can be fairly sure of attributing the silver in question. When in doubt consult someone in your nearest museum or see your friend and mentor, the reliable dealer in antique silver.

Always remember that a fine piece of antique silver is a good investment, that its value will increase with the years. Many persons have bought old silver for investment and if it was from a reliable dealer or has come with an authenticated family histbry, its value increased in the course of time far beyond the original cost. Actually owning fine silver is like having money in the bank; the very metal from which it is made has value.

Perhaps the best example of what one man thought of the value of a silver collection was shown by the late Francis P. Garvan who gave the Garvan Collection to Yale University. When the Victoria and Albert Museum in London asked him to lend his collection, he replied that he would be glad to if the museum would send a battleship for it and would return it the same way. This famous collector knew the intrinsic as well as the esthetic value of his silver.