A SMALL COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE SILVER
AND OBJECTS OF VERTU
THE WHAT IS? SILVER DICTIONARY

HOW TO READ, DECRYPT AND IDENTIFY THE MARKS
ON AMERICAN STERLING SILVER

THE STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO TRACE USA AND CANADA STERLING SILVER MARKS
"How can I identify the marks on silver I inherited from my grandmother? ..."     "I'm trying to find information about a nice silver piece I bought on a thrift store...."
Questions as these are the most frequent I receive everyday by site visitors. I always try to satisfy the requests, but following the instruction on this page you will be able, expert or not of the matter, to find directly the information you are looking for.
The tutorial is thought to guide you in a step-by-step path into the site.
I suggest to read the instructions and to follow examples and links!
You will be surprised to find how easy it is.
TRY NOW, ISN'T DIFFICULT!!!!

choose your case and go directly to your starting point

1) mark with the NAME of the maker

2) mark with ALPHABET LETTERS only

3) mark with SYMBOLS only

4) mark with LETTERS and SYMBOLS

and "how to date my silver?"



Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard adopted in the United States has therefore a minimum millesimal fineness of 925 and the STERLING mark can be punched only on objects that meet these requirements.
The trademark (or trade mark) is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual or business organization to signify to consumers that the products or services originate from a unique source and to distinguish the products or services from those of other entities.
In some cases the manufacturers of American sterling silver did not include the firm name in their trademark, preferring to use some alphabet letter (usually the firm's initials), figural or graphic symbols or a mix of letters and symbols.
This feature, while often obtaining a pleasing visual effect, makes difficult the identification of the name of the manufacturer.

1) AMERICAN STERLING SILVER MARKS
    ALPHABETICAL DIRECTORY BY NAME


Aa / Am      An / Az      Ba / Bh      Bi / Bz      Ca / Cn      Co / Cz      Da / Dt      Du / Dz      E      Fa / Fn      Fo / Fz      Ga / Gh      Gi / Gz      Ha / Hh      Hi / Hz      I-J      K      La / Lh      Li / Lz      M      N      O      P - Q      Ra / Rn      Ro / Rz      Sa / Sh      Si / Sz      T - U - V      Wa / WG      Wh / Wz      X - Y - Z     

Gebelein Silversmiths trademark Tuttle Silversmiths trademark Paul Lobel trademark

Most of American silver manufacturers use a mark including their name and, often, their location.
In this case the research of information about the maker of your item is extremely simple.
Knowing the name of the maker, you can use the ALPHABETICAL DIRECTORY BY NAME of this site, find the name you are looking for and obtain details about the history of the factory, when and where it was active and compare your mark with those illustrated in the page.

If the mark bears, for example, the name Gebelein, click on Ga/Gh and you will be redirected to the page containing, in alphabetical order, GEBELEIN SILVERSMITHS.

2) AMERICAN STERLING SILVER MARKS
    TRADEMARKS CONTAINING ONLY ALPHABET LETTERS


If the trade mark contains only alphabet letters (usually name's initials) the search of information requests a previous step: to find the name of the maker.
In this case the identification of the mark is less simple but not too difficult. You need to use the page of LITERAL MARKS, find the corresponding image of the mark and click on the maker's name next to the photo. You will be redirected to the page containing the ALPHABETICAL DIRECTORY BY NAME and the information you are looking for.

LITERAL MARKS

 A - B - C - D - E-  F - G - H - I - J - K - L-  M - N - O - P - Q - R - S-  T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z-


Edward H. Breese trademark William R. Elfers Inc. trademark Fessenden & Company trademark

If, for example, the mark is EHB, click on the initial letter  E  and you will be redirected to the page containing the list of trademarks having the corresponding initial letter EHB and the link to EDWARD H. BREESE , its history and further marks

3) AMERICAN SILVER MARKS
    TRADEMARKS CONTAINING ONLY FIGURAL OR GRAPHIC SYMBOLS


If the trademark contains only figural of graphic symbols the search of information requests the same previous step as in the case above: to find the name of the maker.
You need to use the page of the FIGURAL MARKS, find the corresponding image of the mark and click on the maker's name next to the photo. You will be redirected to the page containing the ALPHABETICAL DIRECTORY BY NAME and the information you are looking for.

FIGURAL MARKS

anchors  animals  arrows  bells   birds and wings  candelabra  crosses  crowns   fantastical entities  horses   human figures   keys   lions  musical instruments   plants and vegetables  stars  swords axes blades   tools  windmills   wings  others


H.H. Tammen Curio Co trademark Redlich & Co trademark Worden-Munnis Co Inc. trademark

If, for example, the mark looks as a HUMAN FIGURE, click on the section  human figures . You will be redirected to the page containing the list of trademarks using as symbols human figures or parts of the human body. Find the firm using a HUMAN FIGURE as your and the corresponding link to H.H. TAMMEN CURIO CO and its history and mark

4) AMERICAN SILVER MARKS
    TRADEMARKS CONTAINING FIGURAL OR GRAPHIC SYMBOLS TOGETHER WITH ALPHABET LETTERS


If the trademark contains figural of graphic symbols together with alphabet letters you can make your search indifferently through the ALPHABETIC or the FIGURAL channels as illustrated in examples 2) and 3)

Sheridan Silver Co Inc trademark Lawrence B. Smith Co trademark Lawrence B. Smith Co trademark

If, for example, the mark is a K between LION and a CROWN, you can click indifferently on the links K,  lions or crowns. You will be redirected to the pages containing the list of trademarks using the "S", the lion or the crown symbols. There, you'll find the name of the maker, PETER L. KRIDER CO, and the corresponding link to its information history and marks

HOW TO DATE YOUR STERLING SILVER

The absence of an official dating system makes it difficult to date American sterling silver wares. An approximate date can be determined by examining:
- the style of the object
- the date of registration of the pattern at the Patent Office
- the presence of a dated dedication
Few manufacturers introduced, on a voluntary basis and for a more or less long period, a dating system of their silver, adding series of symbols next to the trademark. The first was Gorham (1868-1969), followed by Whiting Mfg Co (1905-1924) and Reed & Barton (1928-1942).
Other approximate dating is possible for Tuttle Silversmiths (1923-1981), which adopted the custom of marking each piece with a crescent and the initials of the incumbent President of the United States, and Tiffany & Co (1861-1965) which used a date letter based on the initial of the current Tiffany president.

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