Silver ?

Ok, I wasn’t sure if this should be here or in MPSIMS. So I flipped a coin and GQ won (or lost depending how you look at it ).

The question I have is about silver serving trays, teapots , candle holders, ect.

I have seen several of these pieces at resale shops, priced between $ 3.00 and $5.00 each.

How can I tell if these things are real silver ? I am thinking of starting a collection of silver, but know nothing about it.

Ayesha - Lioness

You sound reasonable. Must be time to up my medication.

Silver service, especially trays, includes a very large number of different types of “Plate” silver. Base metal (often nickel in early pieces, or pewter) is covered with a coating of silver, sometimes only a few atoms thick. Sometimes cheap pieces are plated with an amalgam of silver and other metals, making it even cheaper.

<p align=“center”>Tris</p>

I realize you’re contemplating a true silver service collection. But my bachelor brain can’t help thinking: $3.00? You couldn’t get a plastic serving tray (new) for that. Go for them and recycle the “plates” as you ID them. They’ll do as vehicles for social functions in the mean time.

It’s like Triskadecamus says. Sometimes it’s nickel or chrome plate, even.

Some pieces are so thinly plated that polishing will cause the base metal to show through. You won’t find any bargains at these resale shops, but you might get some good pieces at a garage sale.

My wife recently got a tea service at a garage sale for $150.00.
She had it appraised for insurance purposes at $700.00.

There are bargains out there, but a lot of junk, too. Be careful.

This space for rent.

Look underneath the pieces. Quality silver will be marked. “Sterling” in the US means it’s .925 silver. Silver is very soft so items with handles, feet, etc. are generally silverplate, i.e. coated with silver.

I doubt you’ll find much real silver in the price ranges you mentioned - unless they’re very, very small. If you just like the looks of it, go ahead and buy. But if you want a good collection that will have some value, go to the library and get some collector books on silver. Then read, read, read.

Real silver says on the bottom one of these:

STERLING, .955, .900, .825, .800, or some odd english mark of same.

I just bought some Russian zarfs but I can’t read the russian marks. sigh.

You could use Archimedes’ method. Weigh the plate; weigh the water it displaces; divide the former by the latter. If the result isn’t close to 10.5 it isn’t silver… “nickel silver”, for instance, will typically be on the low side of 9.

Of course, being close to 10.5 doesn’t necessarily mean it IS silver.

      • I can’t find any examples right now, but doesn’t real silver have a particular smell to it? - MC

Thank you all for your responses. Just a few quick replys.

Thanks for the warning .

Hon., I am a cheap skate. Oops I mean a frugal woman, I can get a half way decent reusable plastic serving tray band new for a dollar at a dollar store. They aren’t the best but hey, for the price you can’t beat them.

Thanks for warning me about the plating, I have found some good bargains at resale shops. Most notably a 25 inch remote control color console television that works great for $45.00 , a set of six brass candle sticks that were beautiful once I cleaned and polished them up . Oh and a bit off subject but…, Wife, you have a wife Wally ? Great, please , please tell her I don’t mean anything serious when I flirt here. I don’t want to have a wife upset with me. Btw, does she know you are a cyber - sl*t ?

aseymayo,and handy,
Thanks, that helps.

Thanks but Archimedes’ method is a bit beyond me. Too much math there (I’m not stupid, just uneducated. There is a diffrence.)

Smell ? Really ? Wow if you find those examples please let me know.

Ayesha - Lioness

You sound reasonable. Must be time to up my medication.

Another way you can tell Silver is from it’s distinct tarnishing. Silver oxidizes rather quickly; so, unless they polished it within a few weeks of you seeing it, it should be tarnished. A telling sign would be dark fingerprint “stains” on the object. The acids and chlorides from your skin accelerate the oxidation. Aluminum or stainless won’t tarnish like that. (of course they could be discustingly dirty)

Electroplated items should have that fact marked on it somewhere. Of course nothing is axiomatic.

Few, if any antique dealers would accept something if it wasn’t properly marked on the bottom.
MC, you can buy a pure 1 oz of silver from a dealer for about $5.50 right now & then you can smell it :slight_smile:

Squid Vicious, the only way to know if its real silver is to file a section of it onto a test pad & use the proper acid to identify its purity.

Handy, as a chemist I agree that you can’t tell visually whether or not it’s silver. I was just pointing out a few “field tips” to try. Most people are not going to carry around vials of dilute nitric acid or hot sulfuric acid to see if it dissoves.

or dissolves for that matter

Ayesha, I have been married all my life. Well, that’s how it seems.

She called my flirting “juvenile” so I cut it out. Well, toned it down. She doesn’t care about words on a screen, but she said if she catches me messing in real life, Lorena Bobbit will drop by.

Who is this Lorena Bobbit? Is she cute?

This space for rent.


Well darn ! There goes my chance at black-mailing you ! You never let me have any fun !

(a bit of tongue in cheek here)
Oh yes, you would LOVE Lorena ! I promise you would never forget meeting her for sure !
She might even make you famous. Just like she did her ex-husband, John Wayne (Franken-Weenie) Bobbit.

Ayesha - Lioness

You sound reasonable. Must be time to up my medication.

      • I just found some suitable experimental subjects and tried a few things. If you scratch the silver, it smells strongest but it is still faint - you have to put the coin right up underneath your nose, touching it. Washing them with abrasives also works, but not nearly as well.
  • The best results are from trying it with WW II era and before stuff. Half-dollars from the late 60’s-early 70’s don’t do it much at all, even when scratched.
  • This was from a couple handfuls of various coins, some silver but most not, that were stored in the same box for the last ~15 years. - MC

ok, I am going to look around today and see what I can find. Wish me luck, and if ou see a short broad broad sniffing silver somewhere, don’t worry. It is only me.

Thanks for your help everyone !

Ayesha - Lioness

You sound reasonable. Must be time to up my medication.

Here’s another idea, Lioness. Next time you go out, stop at a dept. store and look at new silver. Handle it, look at the marks, and note the prices. Then when you’re bargain hunting, you’ll have some basis for comparison.

(Pssst - if you’re shopping at an antique mall, always ask at the check out if there is a discount.)

(Pssst - if you’re shopping at an antique mall, always ask at the
check out if there is a discount.)’
Why shop there? Those prices are very high & are meant to be so high that anyone would be foolish to not as for a discount first, at least 10%.