Antique Sterling Silver from Nelson and Nelson Antiques

Nelson & Nelson Antiques

How To Start Collecting Silver: Antique Dealer Tips

November 2, 2021 3:10 pm
Antiques : Decorative Art : Metals : Silver

Antique silver is a tremendous and valuable collecting focus. The variety found in silver collecting makes it easy to want to get started. The following are a few antique dealer tips on how to get started collecting silver.

Pick a Focus for Your Collection

With numerous options available, it’s easy to want to collect everything. It’s helpful for collectors, especially those who are beginners, to decide which direction to take their collection. If you’re in search of a focus, a few ideas include:

  • Pick a specific object, such as sterling silver spoons.
  • Choose a favorite era to collect from, like Art Deco pieces.
  • Focus on a favorite motif, such as lilies or geometric designs.
  • Pick a specific manufacturer, like Unger Brothers or Wallace, or choose another famous name.
  • Focus on pieces you’ll use daily, such as serving platters.

Learn To Determine Age

When purchasing items to add to your collection, it’s crucial to get a sense of the piece’s age. If your item has a hallmark, compare it to other known marks from that manufacturer to narrow down a date. Hallmarked items make this simple because many silver manufacturers will change their mark every few years.

If you find a piece with no hallmark, you’re going to have to look at design clues. Gather knowledge on your favorite era to gain a better understanding of what styles and motifs were popular. If you’re still in doubt, take the piece to get appraised by a professional.

Become Familiar With Silver Content and Plating

Before making a single purchase, you must familiarize yourself with the various types of silver. Solid silver is far too soft to hold up, so it’s doubtful you’ll find any. You’re more likely to encounter silverplate or sterling silver.

It’s easy to see why many collectors choose to collect silver. You have so many options ranging from silver serving dishes to sterling silver wall hooks. Use these tips to start collecting silver today.

Determining the Value of Your Silver Tray

September 30, 2021 1:31 pm
Antiques : Decorative Art : Metals : Silver : Plate

Determining the value of your silver tray has many factors. Who designed and manufactured the tray being one, and the condition and date of the tray being another. Trends also affect the value of the tray. Some extremely old trays designed by specific makers will sell for thousands of dollars at auctions.

Check the Marking

Look on the back of the tray to find the hallmarks. Sometimes there’s only a single mark, and other times there are several alongside each other. You’re looking for digits, pictures, and letters. All the different markings refer to specific information that can help determine the value of your silver tray.

If you find a .925 embossed into your tray, this signifies it’s sterling silver. Sterling silver is the highest quality silver and will typically bring a higher sale price.


Purchase a hallmark guidebook to compare the markings you find on your tray. Notably, if the silver tray is over 100 years old or by a coveted designer, such as antique Tiffany silver, it’s most likely going to be a higher value.

Condition of the Tray

Search and feel around the tray for dents or bumps. A tray in poor condition is a lower value. If you find evidence of solder, it’s a sign of imitation or forgery.

Believe it or not, the heavier the silver tray, the more valuable the tray. The patterns appearing on the tray are also important indications of date and style. If your tray has a border with a silver rope twist, it could be from the desirable early 19th century. If your tray has sharp lines and angles, then it could be from the less desirable art-deco style of the early 20th century.

Current Demand

Checking different auction house’s websites is a fantastic way to understand the current sale prices and demand for silver. Look at the other silver trays that have recently sold or will sell soon. You can always consult with your local dealer or auction house to get a professional opinion and evaluation. Remember that these prices are estimates and dealers offer lower prices because they need to make a profit.

Best Items To Pass Down: Family Heirloom Examples

September 20, 2021 10:50 am

A family heirloom is a treasured item families can pass down from one generation to the next. It can be anything from valuable antiques to simple photographs. Below you’ll find some ideas for the best items to pass down.

Digital and Paper Photographs

The world’s switch to digital only makes storing photographs and videos easier. While you can hire a company to digitalize all the pictures and videos if you choose, flipping through a photo album is nostalgic and reminiscent. Your family will love reliving memories.


This doesn’t mean saving every toy your child owned, but keeping a few that meant a lot to them is a beautiful idea. They could be toys from a memorable event, ones they can’t part ways with, or a toy future generations may enjoy. Asking them which ones they’d like to save is a great idea.

Fine China

Most people don’t have a set of fine china anymore—but if you do, then it’s instantly more valuable. Passing down something associated with great memories around the dinner table results in a great family heirloom. Whoever receives such a wonderful heirloom as fine china will be very lucky.


Phone calls and text messages quickly replaced sending physical letters, but if you have any, you should definitely save them. Letters accompany family stories that get passed down through the generations. They’re capsules of a different time and are therefore always fascinating, which is a great reason to pass them down to someone who will treasure them.


If you have collectible pieces of artwork your children have made, they’re definitely items worth passing down. However, perhaps keeping every single one wouldn’t be a good idea, so make sure the pieces you decide to keep are meaningful. That way, they’ll be worthy of being called family treasures.


Maybe it’s your grandfather’s baseball cards or a parent’s coin collection, but these should be kept in the family. Your kids can even add to them. Collections are fantastic windows to the past, whatever they may be composed of, which is why they’d make for a great family heirloom.

Sterling Silver

Vintage sterling silver is something people go to great lengths to collect and treasure. It can be mysterious, regal, and beautiful—all in all, something great to pass down. Additionally, sterling silver makes an excellent keepsake for the family because it’s high quality and long-lasting.


Many families have a special piece of jewelry that’s been passed down. It could be a grandmother’s engagement ring or a necklace filled with sentimental value. It’s the story behind the jewelry that makes it a treasure.


It’s more than just the recipe that makes it valuable. It’s the handwriting, the stains on the recipe card, the smell wafting through the house. A recipe can bring a memory to life instantly. If you have some precious ones, they would make fantastic heirlooms.

There’s no right or wrong family heirloom. It’s whatever your family treasures and inherits—whether that’s something new or old. If you’re stuck about what items would make good heirlooms, refer back to these best items to pass down for ideas.


Why Silver Keepsake Items Are the Best

August 31, 2021 9:11 am
Antiques : Decorative Art : Metals : Silver

Silver has a long history of importance; many important items with silver or made of silver have been cherished as gifts since its discovery. Even today, silver is beloved as a material for treasured ornaments and fine household items. It isn’t easy to list a few reasons why sterling silver makes the best gifts, but our favorite reasons are its real value, durability, and exceptional beauty.

Silver Holds Real Value

Buying a piece of silver isn’t like exchanging coins for a mere bauble. Rather, it’s an investment into the future. As a result, real silver doesn’t depreciate like other commodities and conveniences. Instead, its value is tied to the overall evaluation of silver.

In other words, it’s one of the few items that truly holds value. It will always be in demand and so is worth collecting way more than an average hobby piece. Silver collectors can buy and sell pieces at their leisure without worrying about purchases becoming worthless, unlike many other collectible items on the market today.

Silver is a Durable Material

Another compelling reason why sterling silver makes the best gifts is pure durability. Its ability to withstand time is showcased by just how many antique pieces have survived over the years. Silver permeates human history down to its very roots. Additionally, it’s very repairable in most cases.

The oldest discovery of silver reaches back to 4000 BCE in the form of rudimentary coins. Every era from then on has been blessed by increasingly ornate examples of fine craftsmanship. Gifting a mother-to-be with a sterling silver baby cup is essentially equivalent to giving them a guaranteed family heirloom. Your gift will outlast you and be cherished by generations to come.

Silver has Unrivaled Beauty

The most straightforward reason why silver is always a welcome gift is its incredible beauty. Few things are as captivating as a well-polished piece of silver. In addition, it’s a malleable metal and readily accepts complex forms. Silver has been made into just about any form imaginable from engraved designs, embossed elements, and complex casts.

It’s best known to be shaped as exceptionally beautiful everyday objects like vases, dishware, and silverware.

Lastly, silver only becomes more beautiful as it ages. Tarnish often finds its way into the fine spaces of a silver piece, and while it can be removed, many people think tarnish highlights and enhances a piece’s beauty.

The History of Silver and Interesting Facts About It

August 26, 2021 4:40 pm
Antiques : Decorative Art : Metals : Silver

Silver has a long history of being both valuable and deeply admired. Cultures have likened its beauty to moonlight, and artisans have been crafting it into great tools and art pieces for generations. It’s still greatly valued today for its unique beauty and uses in electronic components. Yet, despite its worldwide fame, few people know the history of silver and interesting facts about it.

Early Discoveries of Silver

Historians date some of the oldest silver as far back as 4000 BCE. It’s one of the first metals ever discovered alongside gold, copper, tin, lead, and iron. The earliest uses uplifted silver from its more utilitarian metal siblings from the time. It was most commonly used to craft rudimentary coins and was primarily used as money.

From then, it would go on to be treasured as a beautiful material to craft precious items, including various everyday tools (albeit these were reserved for wealthier citizens). Silver is best known today in the forms of fine flatware, dishware, and decorative pieces such as sterling boxes.

What Is Silver Tarnish?

Most people are familiar with the fact that silver tarnishes. Contrary to popular belief, however, tarnish doesn’t ruin a piece by any means. Instead, it’s the result of oxidation and can only be deterred with the proper storage methods. Silver is nonreactive to water, as are other metals. What’s more, silver and its tarnish are nontoxic. It’s naturally germicidal and safer to eat from as a result.

Modern Applications of Silver

The history of silver and interesting facts about it are still unraveling to this very day. Most of all, silver is used today to continue the tradition of fine tableware. Besides this, it has many practical industrial applications. Due to its conductivity, it’s often mixed with alloys and used to solder elements on chips. Its antibacterial qualities play a role in developing and producing new medicines to this day.

Silver’s resilience to corrosion and nonreactivity to color dyes has made it a preferred material throughout the electronic industry. Lastly, we also find silver in everyday items such as engines, batteries, and even common detergents. Without a doubt, silver is among the most valuable and useful resources we have.