Answers to our customer's most frequently asked questions
I have an old piece of hollowware and have no idea what it is!
An appraiser will be able to help you. Your library may have some books on old silver, and by going through the pictures, you may find some similar pieces. Verbal descriptions can be misleading, it is best to discuss the piece with a knowledgeable person, letting them view & handle it.
How do I know if it's Sterling or Silverplate?
The general rule with American silver is "if it doesn't say sterling, then it's not". An exception to this rule may be a mark of 925, sometimes found on older pieces. This means that for every 1000 parts, 925 are pure silver, the standard for sterling. (If it were 1000 parts pure silver, it would be soft and bend.)
How do I tell if my silver is American?
Check your library for a copy of Dorothy Rainwater's "Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers". Compare marks on your silver with marks in the book. Also contact your local antique dealers and see if they can help you.
Do I have luncheon or dinner size?
The size of your knife and fork determines whether it's luncheon or dinner size. If the knife is close to 9" long, it is luncheon, closer to 9.5", it's dinner. The fork should be about 7" if it's luncheon size, 7.5" if it's dinner. In 40's & 50's silverplate patterns, a 'viande-grille' size knife and fork were made. Here, handles are very long, and the utensil areas short. In the 50's they started making "place size" (between luncheon & dinner size).
What is the difference between a French blade and modern blade on a knife?
French blades have a right angle that comes out on one side of the blade just above the handle - some people refer to it as a notch. Some patterns made in the 20's and 30's have notches on both sides, I call these double French blade. Modern blades are smooth on both sides and look like what you would see in knives today.
How do I know pieces are authentic?
To educate yourself, read or study books from the library that show old pieces so you know what they look like. Work with dealers who are honest and will tell you when pieces are new reproductions or old originals. Learn from them how to tell the difference between new and old.
Where can I get a piece of hollowware repaired?
The Society of American Silversmiths has a web site (www.silversmithing.com). Contact them to find out if your piece can be repaired. We also recommend Omega Silversmithing for silver repairs:
What if I have stainless?
Write to your stainless company and ask for a listing of stainless matchers. Contact the stainless pattern matchers to see if they have pieces you're looking for.
Why do some of the hollowware pieces have pictures of flatware?
We opted to place flatware pictures in place of nothing for some of our hollowware pieces. This way, you can see that the hollowware piece matches the pattern. We are continually working to add more pictures to our website and hope to eventually have pictures for all of our items.
How is my transaction secure?
When ordering online through our shopping cart, your browser will contact a secured address on our Web site. That address will start with "https," rather than "http." The server then sends its digital certificate to the browser, authenticating itself. This initiates the Secure Socket Layer (SSL) which means that the data transmitted by your browser is protected with encryption. A padlock symbol at the bottom of your browser shows that the session is secure.
Can I clean my silverplate flatware in the dishwasher without harming it?
We advise not to put your silverplate flatware in the dishwasher - chances of it looking good afterward are slim. Even if the pattern is plain, putting it in the dishwasher may leave a dull film on it. In addition, rust can form on blade edges that are silverplate - if the blades are stainless you might get away with it. Patterns that have a design offset with patina or oxidation are susceptible to having the dishwasher removing this feature and turning it white.
How difficult is it to have silverplate flatware replated? Also, is it expensive?
The process itself is difficult. Omega Silversmithing Inc. (who we use for repair jobs) explained that the pattern must be crisp in order for it to look original when having it replated. All of the existing silver is removed and a new layer is put on through electrolysis. The cost is determined by the silversmith and each one charges differently then the next. We realize that for sentimental reasons you might want to have your piece replated, even in a case where the cost to replace with a new one is less.
There are products out there that claim to add silver. We don't use them, and therefore cannot recommend them. We suggest that a professional silversmith does the work for you and believe that a piece can be worth having replated, especially if it is obsolete or of sentimental value to the owner.
Keep in mind that original plating can not be completely duplicated, but there are silversmiths out there that can restore a piece to its original glory. Oxidation and methods of finishing can give a piece back its beauty. We recommend Omega Silversmithing Inc. for this type of job.