If you want to sell vintage silverplate flatware or simply enjoy collecting it, knowing the flatware's pattern is very important. The search can be time-consuming, but if you have patience, a good eye and detective skills, the search can rewarding.
You can use many sources to identify an unknown pattern. First, research an auction site such as eBay. Look at the back of your silverware piece. Find the maker's name. (Use a magnifying glass if necessary.) A quick scan of similar items on eBay often helps find the pattern.
If that doesn't work, the next stop might be Replacements.com. Go to its silver section. Find the silverplate maker's name. A comprehensive list of patterns by that maker will appear. Click the bar along the lefthand side to see thumbnails of the patterns. This is where it can get a bit tedious. Silverplate patterns are listed alphabetically, and are mixed in with stainless and holloware. You may have to scan pages before you spot the vintage silverplate flatware pattern you are looking for.
You can also check smaller sites such as silvercollecting.com (for Rogers Bros. items) or nancysilver.com. Both have excellent drawings or photos, and you can quickly go through the major patterns. If that doesn't work, hit the big one, Replacements.com. It's rare you won't find a pattern you're looking for here.
Check your public library for price guides and books about collecting silverplate. Note that suggested prices are for objects in excellent condition.