When submitting a silver for online evaluation, appraisal we need:
1) Provenance: The item's history and where you obtained it from.
2) Measurements/dimensions in either inches or centimeters. And if possible the item's weight.
3) Digital photographs giving the front view and back view. And if possibleprovide us with a photograph of the hallmark (you will need a camera with a good macro lens). If you cannot provide a reasonable picture of this hallmark, then describe the marks as best you can and we will do our best to help you along. Or preferably look the hallmark up in a book on silver or at a website (see commentary below). You can also try rubbing a piece of paper with a pencil over the mark, which may allow you to read and then photogrpah the mark.
As with all on-line evaluations, appraisals, the more of the above informations that you provide, the more accurate our onlineevaluation, appraisal will be.
If the piece has “E.P.”, or something “plate” written on it, then it is silverplate. In general, silverplate is not worth evaluating a market value for.
In general, silverplate should only be appraised at replacement value when doing a list of household goods for insurance purposes. The reasoning being, with the exception of Sheffield Plate collectors do not want silver plate, rather they want silver items, meaning items with a high percentage of silver i.e. sterling silver is 92.5% silver. Note: Since there are no laws governing silverplate, so often it was hallmarked in a fashion similar to sterling. Note: Sheffield plate was invented 1743 by Thomas Boulsover and used for nearly a century until electroplating was common place. Furthermore pieces hallmarked "Sheffield Plate"
Canadian Sterling Silver may or may not have a hallmark. If not a hallmark, the piece is simply marked “Sterling”and it sometimes has both Sterling along with a hallmark.
English Sterling Silver, has always hallmarked since the 12th century. Although at firsdt seemingly complex, its system is realitively easy to follow. Please look for the “passant lion” (walking lion) which can be found on the majority of English Sterling. The city, and date can only be ascertained by an accurate picture.
Good Web site: http://www.925-1000.com/british_marks.html
American Sterling Silver is generally not hallmarked. Indication of fineness has been required since 1906, however many 19th centutry pieces are stamped with “sterling" indicating 92.5% and "coin" or "standard" indicating 90%.
French Sterling silver is hallmarked but its system of marks is chaotic to say the least. The whole problem with the French system of hallmarks lay in the fact that they use animals, animal heads, people, insects and birds to indicate fineness (etc) rather than numbers. Furthermore, these change dependant upon the time period.
European Silver is generally marked with a number such as 800 (80%) or 925 (92.5%). The exact nation and possibly the time period can only be ascertained by an accurate picture of the hallmark.
Good website for European Hallmarks: French, British, Austro-Hungarian, Swedish, Finnish): http://www.modernsilver.com/basichallmarks.com
Also see for contemporary European marks: http://www.britishhallmarkingcouncil.gov.uk/publications/retailersguidetohallmarks05.pdf
Russian Silver is another beast altogether. Up until 1925 the number stamped on the piece was a measure of zolonik per pound, with 96 representing 100% silver. There are also a series of marks representing different regions and time periods, so in general a good picture of the hallmark is a must if we are to have any hope of an accurate evaluation.Good Web site: http://www.silvercollection.it/bisrussiansilverhallmarks.html