Silver baby spoons are a traditional gift for a newborn baby. Owners of these spoons often cherish them throughout their lifetime before passing them on to loved ones after they die. Spoon collectors may acquire silver baby spoons to commemorate significant events in their lives, other than the birth of a new baby. If you are the owner of a silver baby spoon of which you do not know the history, you may be able to determine if it is a genuine antique and made of sterling silver.
Conduct a preliminary evaluation of the spoon. Look at the spoon thoroughly, noticing any peeling that would indicate the piece is not made of sterling silver. Measure the spoon and record the length on a piece of paper. Weigh the spoon if you have access to a scale and note the weight.
Look for hallmarks on the spoon. A hallmark is an official stamp on the spoon to attest it has met a specific standard. Hallmarks were first used in the 13th Century, and in England, consisted of four different stamps until the year 2000 when it changed to three stamps, according to Antique Silver. The four marks to look for are: purity mark, assay office symbol, date letter and the maker's mark. From 1784-1890 there was a fifth mark, called the duty mark, that was stamped. American antique silver spoons have only one or two hallmarks, consisting of initials or a full name.
Check for over-polishing. An antique sterling silver baby spoon may show signs of over-polishing in the hallmarks. Over-polishing can rub the hallmarks and wear them down, reducing the overall value of the spoon.
Compare your measurements, weight and markings to a silver spoons reference book, hallmark book or web site to estimate the relative age of the spoon (see links in Resources). A sterling silver baby spoon is considered an antique if it is at least 100 years old, according to Antique Central.
If you are still unsure of the authenticity of a spoon, take it or a picture of it, along with all measurements, weight and hallmark descriptions to an appraiser for a professional opinion. Search for an appraiser with experience in silverware appraisal.
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