Monograms on Antique Sterling Silver
By Grant Copland
Collectors of antique sterling silver pieces vary in their opinions of monograms.
Some collectors absolutely love them and see the beauty of an old monogram as an integral part of a piece. Many of these monograms have graceful curves and flowing, sometimes ornate lines. Modern monograms are blocky (machined) and don’t have the character of monograms on antique sterling silver pieces. The collectors who love monograms insist that the old monograms imprint a unique personality into a piece of antique sterling silver and add something of value to it, naturally.
Then there are “purist” collectors of antique sterling silver who demand monogram-free pieces. They will spend a huge amount of time and energy seeking a particular piece without a monogram. If they find appealing pieces that are what they have been looking for, but they find a monogram on them, they won’t buy them no matter what. There are people who will simply have monograms removed, but that is extremely expensive and does irreparable damage to the piece.
Monograms of family initials were used to personalize collections in years gone by. The silver collection of a family in those days was highly treasured and worth a great deal. The collection was to be passed along from one generation to the next, and the monograms made it so that a precious piece could not easily be lost without a trace or absorbed into somebody else’s collection surreptitiously.
Especially on antique sterling silver pieces that can be dated 100-130 years ago, monograms are very prevalent, because this was a heyday of sterling silver collecting for many families who now had the means of putting together collections and they did not want those collections scattered. Monograms are still engraved upon sterling silver pieces today, but doing so is no longer a trend.
Monogrammed pieces of antique sterling silver that have just one letter, with that letter being in a unique, ornate script, sell the best and are the most highly valued of monogrammed pieces. The monograms that feature two or more letters and/or have block script are not as highly valued. Pieces with monograms having the letters J, P, Q, V, & U through Z are more difficult for a merchant to sell than those with the other letters of the alphabet, as these letters are the least prevalent of all the letters in the alphabet.
Some monograms are full first and/or last names. The more common the name(s) the easier it is for a merchant to sell a piece with that name on it. As with the letters, people don’t often like to put together “strange” antique sterling silver collections for whatever reason.
Copyright 2007,Lemur Holdings Pty Ltd, All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or published without our written permission.
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