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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Save the Silver!


I have spent the fall and winter caring for Emma. This past Sunday was the first day off I have had away from the children since November 1. I was really looking forward to antiquing with my mom in Atlanta. We went to Scott's Antique Market. It is located just off either side of the 285 exit of Jonesboro Road the second weekend of every month - two huge buildings filled with most anything you could want, some overpriced and some incredible bargains! All beautiful!!!

I would have loved to buy these pale blue glass plates with the fleur-de-lis!


And I almost couldn't breathe over these GORGEOUS yellow Fostoria glasses.



Beautiful things, right? Well, we were headed there for silver. 



On this visit, the sterling silver pickings were slimmer than ever before. Some of our beloved dealers have quit coming. Dealers selling by the ounce have replaced them. Sterling patterns are often thrown together in torn plastic freezer bags. They are haphazardly piled about. Many of the new dealers have no idea what they have, they just know what it weighs and what they will sell it for. And that was really depressing. Sterling prices have risen steadily, but now vintage and new pieces are disappearing. 

Forever.


We inquired from one dealer about a pattern we didn't recognize.We'd never met him in the past, and we were immediately put on our guard that he didn't know what the pattern was. It was simply marked State House Silver, and there were 6 teaspoons, 6 soup spoons, 6 salad forks, and 6 dinner forks. (I managed to identify it through Replacements. It is Inaugural, discontinued in 1942. I have posted a link to a picture here. http://www.replacements.com/webquote/SHSINA.htm Look at the forks. They are so pretty. *sigh*) I remarked to my mother how easy it would be to put this classic pattern on the table with mother-of-pearl knives. 

Get ready to be shocked.

The dealer snatched up the silver and put it on the scale, telling us at 36$ an ounce, it was coming in at just under a thousand dollars. As the mother of a sick child who has stayed home, (and not worked much), since the beginning of November, that was not an amount I was going to spend. I hedged politely. The man became angry, threatening to melt it for that much. "I'll melt it right in front of you. I don't care!" He growled at us! He was aggressive, leaning towards us, holding two soup spoons! "You don't care if it gets melted?!" He carried on. Was loud. And louder. He was shaking the spoons and his fist!

And he bent the two soup spoons in front of us, destroying them forever. Who has ever heard of such of a thing?  

Needless to say, we moved on.

As we browsed the decent dealers, describing the incident, we heard the same story over and over. They can't move inventory at these prices. They have to sell at the melting price or they can't replace their inventory. They talked about the great silver meltdown of the 1980's, (Hunt brothers), that destroyed the silver value. It is sickening to think of the destruction of these precious items with such artistic and unique value. 


One justification for buying silver is that it will always be worth something. People are certainly discovering that in this time of high silver prices. But I think the cost of the destruction of tons of silver heirlooms is even higher. I realize that silver needs care. And it's easy to make a quick buck right now pawning off grandma's goodies. 

But how can you part with these precious pieces? They may be some of the only things you own of real value, both in terms of the silver itself, but also in terms of the design, artistic merit, sentimentality, and historical significance.


For instance, my pattern, Sir Christopher (begun in 1936) by Wallace, is named for Sir Christopher Wren, the architect of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The motifs on the silver mimic his most famous works. The pattern is notable because it was designed by William Warren and is one of his masterpieces to carry a discernible pattern on the front and the back of each piece. He also designed Grande Baroque, Rose Point, Stradivari, Romance of the Sea, and Grand Colonial. One brief source on the history of Wallace Silversmiths is Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_Silversmiths_Inc..


I understand the practicality and ease of stainless. I have several stainless patterns in addition to the silver patterns in our house. There are some really amazing designers in the world of stainless. The first that comes to mind is Stanley Roberts. But the more you use your silver, the less you have to polish it. And can stainless compare to the timelessness and beauty of silver?






  

One last thing:

The day was not a total loss! We made friends with a new silver dealer from Americus, Georgia. We discussed New York theatre and classic plays and films for at least a half hour. I am currently trying to save Apollo by Alvin (1900). And my mother and I saved pieces of Blackinton's Cherry Blossom (1903) and Reed & Barton's Francis I. 

Francis I is Emma's pattern, and the pieces were gifts because she was not allowed to go due to her illness. The first was a gold-washed master salt spoon. We got a good price because the dealer knew we weren't melters. Most good dealers have a soft spot for those of us who treasure the silver for its intrinsic value.


But the second item we bought for her was somewhat of a mystery. The sweet dealer knew and loved his silver, but this fork was a mystery to him as well. It appeared to be a well-worn piece. We asked around and did our research. There were some strong contenders for what kind of fork this was, but we had a hard time verifying any of our guesses with Reed & Barton or any other image on the internet. We guessed a ramekin fork, a lobster fork, and a lemon fork.

In the end, we learned it is a lemon fork! Thank you, again, Replacements, for picture of items you do not have in stock!



What a fun mystery to solve and a wonderful piece to add to her collection. So, we are doing our part trying to save vintage silver and its dealers one piece at a time.  Feel free to help us!

-Andrea


Sharing at:
http://betweennapsontheporch.blogspot.com/
http://thebrambleberrycottage.blogspot.com/
http://www.findingfabulousblog.com/
http://www.ontheverge6.com
http://astrollthrulife.blogspot.com/
http://romantichome.blogspot.com/
http://iloveprettylittlethings.blogspot.com/
http://thecharmofhome.blogspot.com/
http://frenchcountrycottage.blogspot.com/
http://funkyjunkinteriors.blogspot.com/
http://howsweetthesound.typepad.com/
http://bargainhuntingwithlaurie.blogspot.com/
http://ljm-alacarte.blogspot.com/
http://commonground-debrasvintagedesigns.blogspot.com/
http://nominimalisthere.blogspot.com
http://thetablescaper.blogspot.com/
http://smilingsally.blogspot.com/
http://boogieboardcottage.blogspot.com/
http://www.dittledattle.blogspot.com/
http://savvysouthernstyle.blogspot.com/

42 comments:

  1. Oh I do love my silver and I've been "saving" some too!

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  2. I found your post informative, but also depressing. The thought of silver being melted down just to get the value in weight! Yikes! I have noticed my pattern getting very expensive on Ebay. Love the lemon fork. Joni

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  3. Thank you so much for your sweet and generous comments and for the following, you're a very nice lady. I hope your child is better, I didn't read about it, but wish you both lots of blessings from our Lord and I'll keep you both in my prayers too.
    Yes, OMG! Is that true about sterling? Horrendous news you've found out through this awful man! Shish! Beautiful lemon fork!
    Have a nice weekend Joni.
    FABBY

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  4. Wow...you found some beautiful stuff out there. AND a REALLY CRAZY PERSON!!! What was that guy's deal?!??!! I'm just picturing that whole scene in my head, and it's nuts! I'm glad you guys didn't let his silliness spoil your fun outing.

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  5. Oh wow! I did not realize there were "melters" out there now. How very sad and horrible. I just can't imagine destroying this beautiful silver and art. And I love your mission to save it.

    Becky

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  6. Thanks for comin by again and for your wonderful comments, you're so sweet! Weill keeo visiting for sure!

    FABBY

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  7. WOW!!! how I wish I was there with you to hunt those heavenly gorgeous silverwares. My GOD! I am dying to see your silver. Want them too §:-(

    Happy TS and enjoy your w/end.

    Greetings from the snowy Stockholm,
    /chie

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  8. That was such an interesting post and I feel I learned so much. That is such a shame that so many beautiful items will be melted.

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  9. We feel the same about silver and we're doing our best to save as much of it as we can. It makes me sick to think of the irreplaceable beauty being destroyed.

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  10. I am also a "silver lover" and found this information very disturbing. I am always on the lookout for it at thrift stores, etc. To think something so beautiful would be melted down is just awful. I really enjoyed your pictures.

    Donna

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  11. I am so happy to hear from all of you. It is very disturbing! But there are enough of us out there that maybe we can rescue some of it! :)
    -Andrea

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  12. What and interesting and insightful post. Glad you found and "saved" some treasures. I have some I have found lately that are to pretty to sell in my antique mall space too, so I think I will save them for me as treasures. They are just to pretty!
    Linda

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  13. You added an important message to your post which I hope will inspire your readers to pass the word. I see the same shortsidedness with historic homes. People remodel them tearing out original architectural craftsmanship and finishes only to remodel with junk from Ikea or the like for the latest look!

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  14. Your post is so well timed. I often 'preach' about the importance of saving our family heritage/history through the china, silver, crystal, and linens passed from generation to generation. I have that very lemon fork...the Francis I originally belonged to my mother-in-love, and indeed, my daughter has also chosen it as her wedding silver. I'm working to save china and crystal as fast as I can...I'll pay more attention to the silver from now on. Thank you for sharing your day...that had to be one really unhappy man on the inside...I pity him. Cherry Kay

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  15. Happy Pink Saturday.

    Thank you for sharing this. And, what an obnoxious person. Ugh! It is heart breaking.

    Your new pieces are treasures, and I know they will be treasured even more.

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  16. Andrea, glad you got to get out and love all the pictures, more is always better. Yes, we must save the silver. I'm with your girl. And thanks for sharing the stories and helping to preserve heirlooms of pattern not weighed by the oz for sale. Terri www.morningdewdrops.typepad.com

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  17. I love silver too- and collect pieces when I find them. I cannot imagine running into a dealer that the one you described- how unsettling!! Thanks for sharing your inspirations at FNF! :)

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  18. I'm so glad you and your mother had such a wonderful day. You needed the break. I am appalled at that man's conduct, but so glad you met a nice person later.
    I'll be back. I'm your newest follower.
    Karen
    Ladybug Creek

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  19. I am also a silver lover and have purchased quite a few pieces over the years. Thanks for sharing this very informative post at my party.
    Take care,
    Sherry

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  20. WOW...how sad that they are melting it away.

    Blessings,
    Linda

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  21. As I started reading this post I realised that this might just be how you manage to find such wonderful things for your homes. Sigh!
    Then I became appalled by the dreadful behaviour of the dealer who berated you.
    Save the silver, indeed!

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  22. I too love silver. It's hard to imagine that a man with that much hatred in him can fair well with any customers. You have some beautiful pieces. Thank you for bringing your lovely silver items to Seasonal Sundays!

    - The Tablescaper

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  23. What an awful, awful man! I am so sorry that you had were treated like that on a day that was supposed to be an enjoyable outing for you.

    Ultimately, it sound like it was a good day. I will keep you, your daughter, and that awful man in my prayers. It sounds like he desperately needs them!

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  24. I love silver, too, and didn't know about the "melters"!!!! Horrible people!!! Glad you were able to save some of the silver!

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  25. I can't imagine such an experience. Can you believe this man has any customers at all?
    Happy you "saved some silver" on this trip. Sir Christopher is our pattern too. Never thought of using it with MOP. Love that idea.
    Thanks for sharing the photos of the market and your finds. ~ Sarah

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  26. This is like chopping up the Chippendale for firewood! That man sounds like a real crackpot. So glad you found some pieces you could save.

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  27. Oh My Gosh! How cavalier of that dealer! How will ever sell anything with that attitude? What a shock that must have been for you and your mother to be confronted by such a crazy dealer. Your silver pieces are beautiful, and although I do not polish it as often as I should, I do love my silver and would not consider selling it to be melted down. I think I recognized my wedding pattern (Towle Old Master) in your collection. I selected it over 40 years ago, and I still love it. How interesting about the lemon fork. It's beautiful. Thank you for linking to Favorite Things. laurie

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  28. Silver is such a treasure. I agree it is sad that it is being melted down. Your pieces are beautiful. Thanks for sharing with HSH and linking up!
    Sherry

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  29. those are beautiful collection of variety of silver wares and glasses too...
    clavs

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  30. Thanks for sharing your blues.

    Happy Blue Monday, Andrea.

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  31. We should form a group against "Silver Abusers"......the mean dealer with melt- down- itis made tears swell up in my eyes. Loving old silver, our new group would go after him first! I am happy to learn that you found some treasures and a surprise for your Emma. When our estate silver pieces are destroyed, so is some of our history, and that is horrible for future generations. Just think of the stories that Victorian Bride's Baskets have passed down, the history of the most popular wedding gifts of the times, and the history of the silver companies that produced them..... that is only the tip of the iceberg.

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  32. I am droooling over all those silver. I cannot believe the attitude of that one dealer....Christine

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  33. I love this, what a great idea! Thank you for sharing it at Masterpiece Monday. Have a great week, Mary :O)

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  34. Your post so hurt my heart and brought a tear to my eye...what a nasty man!!

    I too found to "beautiful" pieces recently at a consignment shop and was so excited until he told me the price for just the one piece would be over $80...I almost fell over! Neadless to say I had to walk away from it and hope that someone who appreciates the silver for the beauty of it will purchase it and display it lovingly in their home!

    Thank you for you wonderful post!

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  35. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Years ago we had to sell service for 12 Gorham Buttercup, made me sick. But I believe "ths or something better will come my way"!

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  36. Hi,interesting and very nice your blog.I like silvers things.I am also collect old spoon and fork,lovely from Turkey.(http//:eskiden-yeniye.blogspot.com)

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  37. Oh, such beautiful pieces of silver! But, I am appalled at the behavior of the one dealer. He must be successful with those horrific tactics occasionally, or he wouldn't be so bold. I'm sorry that your first fun venture out - in a long while - was met with such rudeness.

    Thanks for linking to the party. I hope to see you again this week.

    Blessings,
    Liz @ the Brambleberry Cottage
    http://thebrambleberrycottage.blogspot.com/

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  38. I love this post!!! I adore silver and wish I had more but it IS pricey! It is so obvious that you have great respect for all of the wonderful patterns and pieces that have been around for generations.

    Thank you for sharing! And I hope your daughter is on the mend!!!!

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  39. I sure am glad I didn't run into that weirdo! I have never heard of a vendor acting like that. I didn't know they were selling it by the ounce. Glad I wasn't looking for silver. Thanks for joining WUW.

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  40. His name was Mr. Silverman, if you can believe that, according to another dealer we met. He had a bandaged right hand, and he told a few of the other dealers his girlfriend shot him!!! Our new nice dealer friend's name is Malcom Argo. He is always in building #2. Malcom was divine. :) I often shop from Michael Weaver, but he didn't have any Apollo in stock. Loved seeing your Scott's finds!

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  41. I'm with you on the silver. Even though those bent spoons and forks make cute hooks, I love silver and don't like to see it changed. Would love to go to Scott's some day.

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