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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Made Up Sterling Flatware Pieces

You will sometimes see a sterling flatware piece offered for sale that you have never heard of. There may be a good reason - the manufacturer may never have created such a piece! We have seen some recent examples on eBay that are obviously not found in the real pattern's list of offerings. In most cases, the eBay description has disclosed that the piece was "custom" but sometimes the disclosure is buried in fine print. We don't want to malign any sellers so our example eBay ad below is a fake (we haven't seen an ad for a sweet potato fork). But it's close enough for you to be aware of what you might run across.

Buttercup by Gorham Sweet Potato Fork
This sweet potato fork was custom manufactured by a professional silversmith.

How can it be a true Gorham piece if it was "custom manufactured"? In some examples we've seen, the seller has cut out the two center tines of a standard luncheon fork and has called what's left some special type of serving piece (and has tried to charge a lot more).

Our Made Up "Sweet Potato Fork"

Following is a paragraph regarding this subject that we found in a popular book, Warman's Sterling Silver Flatware Value & Identification Guide.

Some... dealers are making up pieces, and in many cases are not telling the public. They are making cheese scoops from tablespoons, horse radish scoops from dessert spoons, baby pushers from teaspoons, and the market is loaded with asparagus servers made using dinner knife handles... Plain serving tablespoons are pierced to produce the slotted tablespoons, ice cream forks are made from teaspoons, especially in the early patterns, and so are the ice cream spoons. The only way one can tell the difference is via knowledge, knowing the original form of the bowl in the pattern.

So, always read the description carefully. Make sure you know what you buying.
English server, spinach fork, baked potato fork, pierced serving spoon, nut pick, olive spoon, relish scoop, horseradish scoop, brandy warmer, pate server
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Anonymous said...

I see posted on EBAY a Wallace Sterling Silver John Coney tea cup. I cannot find this piece anywhere else. Is it a fake or museum reproduction? Is there a better place to ask this question? Thanks.

Silver Jim said...

This is a response to the previous comment.

Based upon what your price is, I would recommend a professional appraiser with extensive knowledge of sterling. Such a person can review sale data in information sources that I don't have access to. You'll be charged a fee so if you would like to test the waters first, take it by an estate silver shop or two first just to get their free advice. You might also send a question and picture to the research department at Replacements Ltd.

I could not find a piece like this either but I did find other Wallace pieces that used the word, 'exemplar'. For example, Replacements Ltd. has a Wallace Exemplar/Bancker teapot priced at $830.00.

The marks on your piece would indicate that Wallace Silversmiths created a reproduction based on John Coney's design. This would not be uncommon. Many companies have created reproductions of Paul Revere pieces, for example. I understand that Coney died in 1722.