As seen in The Antique Shoppe Newspaper, December, 2004,
Tiffany and Co., reticulated, sterling basket.
c1902-07 Courtesy of Skinner Auctions, Boston, MA.
Now’s the time to polish up not only
your old silver odds and ends but your creativity. And, there
is still time to go hunting in shops for unusual pieces to add
sparkle to your holiday table as decorations and to use.
Don’t be afraid to mix and match for
special interest. Many items long out of fashion from salt dips
to figural bird salt and pepper shakers can be combined with
floral arrangements. An old silver punch bowl can be used as a
centerpiece surrounded by a collection of miss-matched punch
cups. While 19th century sterling examples cost several thousand
dollars, consider silver plate. After all, who will know unless
they turn it over?
Another collecting tip; start collecting
baby cups that still turn up reasonably priced in silver plate
and use them as punch cups.
A single interesting silver serving
piece can also be a great stocking stuffer, especially if it has
a Tiffany signature. It can be a bit pricey at around $400 or
more. Less expensive are the Victorian silver plate serving
utensils for around $50.
Instead of plastic or china hors
d’ouvres plates, look for silver and silver plate butter plates.
Not matching. Consignment shops are a good place to look.
Small trays offer some of the best buys.
Made in a variety of shapes, they may have been used in the 19th
and early 20th centuries to hold everything from calling cards
to passing sugar and cream. Foot fed trays (salvers) can show
off Christmas cookies or fruitcake.
CLUES: Name silversmiths such as
Tiffany, always cost more, unless you make a discovery.
remember, silver doesn’t have to be 19th century or earlier to
Look for the stylized designs
representing different periods, such as Arts and Crafts and
Modern(1940s-50s). You’d be surprised at how many people think a
piece is sterling when it is silver plate. Remember, if it is
20th century and says anything but sterling or is marked 925, it
is silver plate. The best silver plate is marked “quadruple
Best find opportunity is the Victorian
era. After all, they had a serving piece for everything from
asparagus to fish. Often the blades were as ornately engraved as
Souvenir spoons with their figural
handles, depicted everything from Betsy Ross to the Statue of
Liberty. They were teaspoon size and could replace the teaspoons
on your table. They were made of sterling and silver plate. They
are probably one of the cheapest forms of antique silver on the
market. Depending on the subject the price can be from $20 to
$75 in sterling. Less in silver plate. Once one of the hottest
collectibles, alas they are out of fashion these days.
Also out of fashion are fish and fruit
place settings. Popular from the early 19th to mid 19th century
they consisted of a knife and fork. Many were made of Sheffield
silver or had pearl handles. Again, mix and match. A set can
cost $100 or less.
Pieces made for uses other than dining
can still be at home on a Christmas table. They can be
reasonably priced if the seller views them as out of fashion and
only as they were mean’t to originally be used. Good example
would be Victorian silver boxes made for the dressing table.
Another would be the long glove boxes that could hold raw
veggies. Boxes for pins and soap could hold garnishes. Some of
these were made in the shape of tables.
When it comes to decorating tables for the holidays anything