Silver flatware patterns are interesting to the homemaker as well as the collector, and whether you collect silver flatware patterns or are trying to complete a set or replace damaged or lost pieces, it is essential to know the manufacturer and the pattern name. There are two steps in the identification process: locating the name of the manufacturer and finding the pattern name. Sometimes the identification is as easy as checking the original receipt, but this is not always available.
Look in the silverware chest for a foil label that identifies the maker and maybe the pattern name. Many silver flatware patterns have literature about the company and the specific pattern and place these in the silverware box. Determine if the flatware is sterling, silver plate or some other metal like stainless or .800 silver. .800 silver is European silver or coin silver and is 80 percent silver. The standard for sterling silver is .925 or 92.5 percent silver.
Check on the back of a teaspoon to see if it identifies the manufacturer. If the spoon has no obvious manufacturer name, look for silver hallmarks or three to five logos that are typical of English silver. English sterling silver hallmarks will have the passant lion, or walking lion called the assay mark. There is also a town mark for the location of the assay office. Common town marks are the leopard for London, the anchor for Birmingham and the crown for Sheffield.
One logo may be an Old English letter, and this holds the key to the manufacturer identification. Gorham has a lion, an anchor and a G. Reed & Barton has a bird, an R and a lion. Most recent sterling has a millennium mark and may be marked .925 in addition to the lion.
Refer to a book like “Sterling Flatware” by Tere Hagan to compare the hallmarks and identify the manufacturer of sterling flatware. Identify silver plate easily--just read the name of the manufacturer molded on the back of the teaspoon or on the back of the bowl. .800 silver is the most difficult for Americans to identify since it is foreign. Silver Collection website has photographs of coin silver marks and identifies the manufacturer by name and location.
Use the manufacturer name acquired to locate the pattern name, since most flatware is not marked with pattern names. An online source like Silver Collect or Replacements has photographs to compare; companies still in business have a website with identification photographs for their patterns. Silver Collection provides pattern pictures by manufacturer name. Have a teaspoon in hand when you search, as many of the patterns are similar.
Linda Richard has been a legal writer and antiques appraiser for more than 25 years, and has been writing online for more than 12 years. Richard holds a bachelor's degree in English and business administration. She has operated a small business for more than 20 years. She and her husband enjoy remodeling old houses and are currently working on a 1970s home.