Antique Sterling Silver from Nelson and Nelson Antiques

Nelson & Nelson Antiques

How To Identify Hallmarks on Silver

July 1, 2021 5:38 pm

How To Identify Hallmarks on Silver

Collecting antiques is a satisfying hobby for many people around the world. Nothing is quite as admirable as a carefully assembled display of fine pieces. Few collections, though, are quite as stunning and lovely as antique silver collections. It’s possible to build a beautiful collection of new and old pieces, but it’s the antique silver that impresses most and holds its value. Finding genuine antiques primarily comes down to knowing how to identify hallmarks on silver.

Understanding Silver Identifiers

The different markings on silver can be very confusing to first-time collectors. All real silver will include an identifying set of numbers that indicates the purity grade. Sterling silver is the purest variety, which means it wasn’t diluted with high quantities of other metals. In less pure types of silver, the silver is mixed with a more rigid metal and help it resist tarnishing to a degree.

Sterling silver is typically indicated with either 925 or 92.5, which means the piece is made up of 92.5% pure silver.

What Are Hallmarks?

Every artist worth their salt will leave a signature on each of their completed pieces. The same is true of the creator of any delicate object, whether it’s a sculpture, a painting, or a piece of hand-painted dishware. Manufacturers do the same—we’re all accustomed to seeing maker names on the bottoms of our coffee mugs and plates. Any company interested in building a brand will place a permanent mark on its pieces.

This practice has been around for centuries, so it should be no surprise that silver-makers also wish to be identified with their beautiful work. A “hallmark” is a term for the identifier left on a piece. Typically, it appears in the form of stamped symbols or lettering, often on the bottom or inner areas of the piece, out of direct sight.

The best way to identify hallmarks on silver is to choose a period and begin reading collector catalogs. Catalogs are great references for people looking to buy or sell sterling silver. Each text includes the latest relative value of a piece and background information on the maker, including its various markings through the years. Hallmarks can change much like how modern companies brand, so collecting silver from specific makers takes patience and a willingness to learn. Nevertheless, it’s a fun way to turn antiquing outings into exciting hunts as you hone your expertise as a collector.

What Are Antique Picture Frames Made Of

May 28, 2021 3:04 pm

What Are Antique Picture Frames Made Of

The hallways in homes all over the country are filled with framed pictures smiling faces and beautiful memories. Few families don’t have a wonderful collection of snapshots from throughout the years. Whether the images are generations old or printed at home from an iPhone, they all have one thing in common: frames.

For many of us, the average frame does its job. Sometimes, though, there are those special memories that deserve something a little more unique. As such, many people choose to seek out and use antique sterling picture frames. However, looks alone aren’t always enough to spot the real deal. So, this leads to many would-be collectors asking, “What are antique picture frames?”

Why Choose Antique Frames?

Ultimately, choosing vintage decoration is a matter of taste. The variety of form, color, and even material varies greatly depending on the era. Typically, modern designs use plain colors and straight lines for a clean and understated look. Older frames are often much more decorative, and some are even playfully gaudy. It really depends on where in your home it will be hung and what image best suits it.

Antique Metal Picture Frames

Metal frames naturally hold up very well over the years, and many are made of very beautiful materials. While the average person likely thinks of a variety of flimsy alloy, there was a time when items such as antique silver picture frames were not uncommon. Thus, the question of, “What are antique picture frames made of?” might come to mind as these frames are not only beautiful but also retain their value. Other frames often only retain their worth in relation to retro fads, whereas silver items always are in good taste and demand.

What To Expect When Selling Silver

May 18, 2021 12:07 pm

What To Expect When Selling Silver

Of all the antique collections a person could enjoy, none are quite as visually pleasing as a sterling silver collection. However, there always comes a time when one or two pieces no longer fit, or you simply need to trim down your collection. When that happens, many silver enthusiasts are at a loss for what to expect when selling silver. Fortunately, it doesn’t need to be a complex or risky ordeal.

Where To Sell Silver

When selling anything of high value, it’s important to find someone trustworthy to work with. Look for local businesses that specialize in antiques or precious metals—the ideal business will be well versed in both. While it may take a little extra reading and search, it’s well worth the effort.

For instance, if you’re selling sterling trophies from your collection, it’s a great idea to find an expert that also collects similar pieces. Experts in the field will invite you into a clean shop where you can look at similar pieces while they inspect yours. Individuals engaged in collecting silver antiques will always be able to properly identify and evaluate pieces using the correct tools and techniques.

Where Not To Sell

While it’s tempting to go the easy route, it’s not worth it with fine items like silver. It doesn’t take much to snap a few photos and list your pieces of silver online. However, even with a reserve, the chances of you receiving what the item is actually worth is very slim. The same goes for local pawn shops and other eager takers. Plenty of people will use suave sales techniques to ensure you feel like you’re getting a great deal when in reality, they lack the expertise and tools to properly evaluate your item.

How Selling Works

Selling silver is not like buying and selling any other item. Depending on the nature of your items, making a sale could take some time. What to expect when selling silver or any valuable collectible often comes down to waiting patiently. Your local reliable silver dealer will need time to look the piece over. In general, this involves checking the purity, looking for markings, and generally assessing the condition of the piece.

While the bottom-line price will relate to purity and weight, other aspects do factor in and can further raise or lower the value of a piece. In other words, it's not necessarily a space for bartering so much as patiently waiting for the professional to complete their delicate work. When they are done, they’ll let you know a price; at that point, it’s up to you to take the offer or not.

Nelson and Nelson is an antique silver collector and dealer serving the local New York City area. Our silver has been handled by the same talented silversmith for over 40 years. We have the expertise to identify and offer the best prices for your silver antiques. Reach out to us today with further inquiries about buying and selling silver.

Vintage Newborn Gift Ideas

April 28, 2021 1:33 pm

Vintage Newborn Gift Ideas

Finding the perfect gift for a new addition to the family is always a challenge. With so many options of toys, tools, and collectibles, it’s tough to find something truly unusual. Rather than digging through stores that all provide the same modern merchandise, choosing from vintage newborn gift ideas is a great way to make your gift stand out.

Antique Dishware

Of all the vintage newborn gift ideas traditionally given, none are so well known as silver dishware, particularly the silver spoon and silver baby cup. The former is, of course, a popular symbol of good fortune, making it an auspicious gift as well.

Cups are also well-received gifts with practical applications, as silver is food safe. Both items can be engraved, too, allowing for added personalization. On spoons, the child’s name is often engraved into the handle or bowl of the spoon. The larger surface area of cups is better for detailed engravings, such as full names and parent names.

Nelson and Nelson Antiques has been working with antique silver for over forty years. We specialize in pieces from the 19th to mid-20th centuries. Explore our collection today to find your one-of-a-kind antique silver gift.

Vintage Rattles

When it comes to memorable gifts for newborns, there is nothing quite like silver playthings. Many different forms of antique toys can be found in collections and shops across the nation. The most common variety of silver baby toys are rattles.

Often, they feature a beautiful ornament of silver while the rest of the piece is made of other materials, such as a plastic chew ring. The most common variety is dumbbell-shaped—perfect for a baby to grab. Pieces vary from undecorated to ornately engraved. Rattles are made to be light and have smooth seams, so there’s no risk of harm to the rattle or baby during playtime.

Collectable Figures

A vast variety of silver pieces can be found molded into ornate decorations, including antique silver Christmas ornaments, baby charms, and figurines, just to name a few. Often, these pieces are not intended for use but are instead wonderful and rare collector pieces.

Parents will be thrilled by the sheer variety found in silver figurines, particularly the availability of silver featuring beloved characters and baby-themed objects. Nothing is quite as impressive as a hutch full of shining silver collectibles. And, as the child grows up, they’ll enjoy gazing at the growing collection.

Tips and Tricks To Eliminate Smudges From Silver

April 2, 2021 12:29 pm

Tips and Tricks To Eliminate Smudges From Silver

Silver is perhaps the most beautiful material that important everyday items and decorations are made from. However, if it’s not cared for properly, silver has a unique quality that causes unpleasant-looking smudges to appear. This added care element can often scare away would-be avid collectors. But there’s no reason that polishing silver has to be a difficult or expensive process. Fortunately, there are many tips and tricks to eliminate smudges from silver. A significant amount of these tricks utilize everyday items, as well.

Silver Care Compounds

The most straightforward way to care for silver is to employ the powers of compounds made specifically for this work. A common variety of silver cleaner is sold as a paste. Simply dab a bit on a clean cloth and rub it on the object. Rinse and thoroughly dry your silver piece when done. Different types of cleaners may require additional steps, but for the most part, that’s all it takes. Be sure to always choose a non-abrasive cleaner to avoid damaging the surface of more delicate or older pieces.

Lastly, if you’re using a cleaner on an item that’s intended for everyday use, rinse and wipe the item with extra care to avoid missing any remaining traces of the product. Traces of cleaner may induce tarnish in hard-to-reach spots when the silver piece is routinely used or displayed. Sterling picture frames, for instance, are almost always in contact with oxygen, so spaces between engraved and embossed details need extra attention.

Alternatives To Silver Cleaners

If using a chemical cleaner on silver doesn’t suit you or your collection, try a household alternative. Many natural and even edible substances are ideal for removing smudges and tarnish from silver. For instance, mild dish soap and warm water are very effective—make sure to use a soft cloth to clean, though. Using an abrasive dish towel, brush, or sponge will cause more harm than good.

Using Polishing Cloths

When it comes to clothes, it pays to be specific with silver. As silver is a fairly soft metal, it gets scratched and worn easily when not treated with care. Besides this, some common varieties of cloth contain trace oils that will accelerate tarnishing. Avoid using scratchy or worn towels or anything that feels abrasive to the touch.

Many materials are chemically treated with unnatural dyes and contain acids, sulfurs, and salts that react poorly with silver. One of our favorite tips and tricks to eliminate smudges from silver is to use a 100 percent cotton flannel or clean cotton linen.