The Buzz over Antique Sterling Silver Collecting
By Grant Copland
 
One of the greatest things about collecting antique sterling silver is the fact that it can really become a lifelong pursuit. You can build your collection over time, piece by piece, and yet it can still end up taking up no more space than the top of a table. All good collectors point out that you should target a few niches and, once you have done this, you should do all the reading you can about them before commencing with your buying. There's a lot of reading you can do both on the Net and in books that you can buy.
 
At the time of this writing, some of the major antique sterling silver items that have been selling like hotcakes include trays, salt shakers, candlesticks, candelabras, tomato servers, asparagus servers, boxes, mustard pots, stirrup cups, card cases, nutmeg grinders, vesta cases, cigarette cases, tea canisters, tea and coffee services, picture frames, and napkin rings.
 
Some people specialize in periods such as Georgian or Edwardian, others in items, others in putting together creative sets, others in certain makers or manufacturers. It's very important that you build your collection around elements that have personal meaning to you and reflect your tastes. Don't go trying to mimic some other expert collector's work.
 
When you do start buying, buy the highest quality that you can possibly afford. Always look carefully at the design and workmanship of your pieces that you are considering. Demand only the best within your price range. Also, always consider the quality of the condition that it's in. Is this piece going to need some restoration work done to it? If so, consider what you'll have to pay to a silversmith for that work to get done. Always ask yourself what conditions you are willing to accept.
 
One thing that people have differing opinions on are monograms. Decide for yourself if you desire to purchase pieces of antique sterling silver that feature monograms. Then, consider the maker of a piece. Is this maker known to produce the highest quality? And then again, once a maker has a high reputation there can often follow high prices just because his mark is on a piece that really is only typical or perhaps does not fit in all that well with your collection. Unusual or rare marks can command a very high price relative to a price range just for being so rare or unusual.
 
Finally, if you're going for a period piece, make sure you have studied that period well. And consider damage levels and tarnish—lots of tarnish, by the way, can hide true damage. Be wary of uncleaned pieces when buying antique sterling silver.
 
Copyright 2007,Lemur Holdings Pty Ltd, All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or published without our written permission.
 
Grant Copland is the owner of
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