Determining Silver Plate vs. Sterling Silver

Category Miscellaneous
There are marks on the bottom of silver pieces that with the help of the internet, can tell you whether it is sterling or not. This is a page about determining silver plate vs. sterling silver.
Advertisement

Solutions

Share on ThriftyFunThis page contains the following solutions. Have something to add? Please share your solution!

Do you know that there are marks on the bottom of silver and silverplate items that tell you who made it and if it's sterling or silverplate? Did you know that all this information is on the internet if you do a google search for silverplate marks? It was fun finding out that my 'plate" thing was silverplate from a Connecticut firm which closed in 1939, and that my pitcher thing was English Sheffield Ware (Fenton Bros - date?)

By Pam from L.A., CA

Comment Was this helpful? 1
Read More Comments

Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

April 22, 2011

I really need to know how to tell if a piece is truly sterling or if it is just silver plated? I did the white cloth test and it did turn black. I read on line also that a magnet would not stick to sterling silver. Is that true? It is stamped with the #'s 05601 D4 23 and the words Reed and Barton and Regent and the elephant for the year 1952.

Advertisement

By Tangie from Springville, AL

Answers

April 23, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

All of the sterling silver I have ever seen has sterling engraved on it. This is a beautiful tray.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
April 25, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Sterling silver always (without exception) will be labeled with the word sterling so since yours does not include that, it is silver plated. Silver plate can wear off whereas sterling is solid (sterling knives have hollow centers). All silver tarnishes whether it is sterling or plated. As long as it looks good, enjoy using it. You just need to use a quality tarnish remover of some type. Outside of sneaking a look on the back of flat wear at friend's place, check whether sterling or not by sticking spoon in hot drink. The sterling will heat up rather rapidly.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
November 13, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

Anything after approximately WWII will be stamped. Before then, metals weren't required to be labeled, according to the company that valued my great grandmother's silver for my insurance.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Answer this Question...

November 22, 2019

I acquired a silver-looking covered serving dish with fancy script initials "BF" on both the cover and the dish. No other original markings are on it. Anyone know what this is made of? Who made it?
Thanks.

Answers

November 22, 20190 found this helpful
Best Answer

Most items will actually say if they are plated or not, and if they are marked with .925 on them, that means they are probably sterling silver, but if you don't see any markings on them, it is most likely plated.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
November 22, 20190 found this helpful
Best Answer

Most likely the BF is a monogram - someones initials and was presented as a gift.

Advertisement


I have seen pieces like this in shopping malls and they engrave anything you want on the pieces - usually do the work while you wait.
It could be any combination of metal and may not be any type of silver but the quickest way to find out for sure is to take it to a local pawn ship and ask them to look at it for you.
They usually know and have methods to tell for sure anything you wish to know about items like this.
They may also tell you it is of value or that it is not worth anymore than the sticker on the item.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
November 24, 20191 found this helpful
Best Answer

The script letters are most likely the initials of the first owner, as engraved pieces were frequent (and highly coveted) wedding gifts in the 1940s-1960s on everything from cooking items to decorative items to clothing to bath towels.

Advertisement

This piece looks like it is from that era.

It is hard to tell from the photo the size--so my best guesstimates are it is a chafing dish (which if it is would have had a matching stand to hold the candle/Sterno) or it is covered candy dish.

For the metal--Does a magnet stick to it? If so it is could be plated silver (silver over steel or nickel).

If not, then the challenge is it could also be plated silver over copper or another metal that does not have a huge magnet draw. OR it could be sterling silver OR pewter.

Your piece does not look tarnished so it may be pewter (both sterling and plated silver tarnish badly).

While sterling silver is SUPPOSED always to be marked (there are many, many notations from the word sterling, to 925, 95, 825, 800, M95 and more) it sometimes wears off if the piece has a lot of use (rings and old tea sets are notorious for having the mark wear off) so having a professional who can put it under the testing machine or do an acid test is the only positive way to ID the piece.

Advertisement

If they do the acid test, be sure they do it in an inauspicious place in case it isn't and you want to resell it for other than scrap.

There are so many variables with silver and gold. Even if it is mark, this industry over the years has always been rife for fraud. What I mean by this is there are many marked pieces that you think are real silver and gold and they are not. It is infuriating! Sadly there have been, and probably always will be, dishonest makers (and former owners) who mark things that aren't. This is why testing is so important and if you buy new, to only buy from reputable places.

Post back what an expert tells you! Neat piece!! Thanks for sharing!

Reply Was this helpful? 1
Answer this Question...

May 21, 2018

I have some of my great grandmother's silver serving pieces that have different markings on the bottom. One says EG PLATO EPNS with a crest below and Made in England below the crest.

Advertisement

One reads Assay Canada, EP COPPER Lead Mounts 1001. Another BIRKS No. 38. Most have the EBNS, Made in England. Any ideas?

Answers

May 23, 20181 found this helpful
Best Answer

We inherited a ton of pieces like you are describing. The others gave really good suggestions for identifying silver vs plated.

I will share my way of dealing with the pieces after I identified them....

1. If it had sentimental value (either real silver or plated) I kept it.

2. If I had no sentimental value (sadly most had no sentimental value to me) and it was real silver I watched the silver market and sold it off. Silver is low right now...but watch the market and it does go up.

3. For the silver plated pieces...you can always go to Ebay completed/sold and type in the name of the item and see what the market price is. Sadly...from experience I know most pieces have almost no value for their intended purpose.

Where I have found ways to make a little money on them is two fold...

1. Batch a bunch of them together (use a USPS one price box and fill it up) and list it on Ebay for under the title Steampunk Assembledges Silver Plated (and then list the pieces....like LOT OF FORKS or LOT OF PLATTERS). Artists use them for cool assemblage pieces.

2. If they are too heavily tarnished or damaged to be used by an artist, talk to your local scrap metal dealer and see if he/she will buy them for scrap. We have one dealer locally who takes items like this. I have a pile in my basement waiting for a trip to the city for just such a drop off. You won't get much, but to me it makes me feel like I am reducing my carbon footprint just a smidge. The extra money is always helpful!

Hope you find this helpful!

Reply Was this helpful? 1
Answer this Question...

August 23, 2019

This is stamped Reed and Barton 1126. A magnet doesn't stick to it and when I rubbed it with a white cloth it turned black. I can't find the exact plate on eBay under sold items or anything else online with this model number. I'm just wondering if it is older than the stamp law and/or silver. A similar item on eBay brought a pretty penny.

Answers

August 23, 20190 found this helpful

Sterling has to be marked as such. You most likely have silver plate. Any jeweler will be able to tell you.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
August 23, 20190 found this helpful

Many Reed pieces are still sought after by collectors, which is quite unusual.

A reputable silver dealer can tell you if it is plated or sterling.

I have found a few examples of the sterling platters like this selling, not asking prices, in the $400-1000 range. The plated sell for $15-50.

The prices are all about location and supply and demand. They do sell better around Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
August 23, 20190 found this helpful

Take it to your nearest pawn shop and ask them if it is sterling or plated.
They will give you a low ball figure of worth (what they may buy it for).

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

February 12, 2019

I have to spoons that might be pure silver. How can I tell?

Answers

February 12, 20190 found this helpful

Real sterling CAN BE (but is NOT always) marked. There are numerous types of markings with those below just the ones that come to the top of my brain:

The word STERLING
The numbers 925 OR 95 or 825 or 725 (or numbers and letters like M95)

Sometimes there are symbols (usually 2 or more) then you have to find a site to translate those into the maker and the silver content

A magnet WILL NOT stick to it

Some people say it "tastes sweet" but that has a big ick factor for me (I would never lick sterling pieces to tell...and I have found that technique to be totally NOT reliable).

Some say they can smell silver vs. not (it smells bitter) again, totally unreliable.

When I am in doubt, I take my things that I am unsure of to Treasure Hunt (they are a chain...not sure if national, but there are a bunch in Pittsburgh.

They have a machine that tells them right away if the item is not marked what metal it is composed of. They do this for free and usually offer VERY FAIR market values for pieces.

You can buy acid testing kits (but they are expensive) and can damage your item.

If you post a picture of the back of the item I can see if I can give you more info.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 12, 20190 found this helpful

There can be markings saying STER, STERLING , or 925. Sterling also doesnt stick to a magnet and has a sweet taste.

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Anonymous
February 12, 20190 found this helpful

Hi,

I would take them to a pawn shop and ask them if they could test the spoons. I would do the magnet test, as others have mentioned, and also look for the markings on the spoons.

Blessings,

Robyn

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
February 12, 20190 found this helpful

there should be markings say what it is

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Read More Answers

February 16, 2020

I bought this teapot at a market stall. It has Lewbury Melb. on the base and I know it's from Tilbury and Lewis. I think the handle and black base might be Bakelite? I did the sterling silver test with a magnet and did not stick and it's quite heavy. There are no other marks on it. I am wondering if it is sterling silver or not, and would it be art deco era?
Cheers.

Read More Answers

July 14, 2019

Anyone any idea if this teapot is real silver and if it's worth anything?

Thanks.

Answers

July 14, 20191 found this helpful

It is very pretty!! The EPBM refers to electroplated Britannia metaelectroplated Britannia metal, which means your piece is plated silver...a place that can test for actual silver may be able to scan it to tell you what metals it is mixed with. There are no places where I am that give value for silver plated as "scrap".

Where the value lies is in the piece (not the metal). Plated silver items are all over the place in value. The more ornate, the higher they fetch in markets like eBay.

I have seen tea pots sell I(ACTUAL SOLD prices, NOT asking prices) from as little as $10 to $75...depends on supply and demand. I am not familiar with the other marks, which are probably brand and year. Maybe one of the others on this site can give you more. Some makers are worth more than others.

Yours has a lot of decorations, which may put it in the higher bracket, depending on the maker and the condition.

I hope your daughter will get a lot of use out of the piece! These were meant to be loved and used!

Thanks for sharing your lovely!

Reply Was this helpful? 1
July 14, 20191 found this helpful

Real silver would say sterling, ster or have a 925 on it. It is not silver It is silver plated.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
Answer this Question...

August 31, 2019

I have a platter, but don't know if it's silver or silver plated. I live in a pretty small town and don't know where to go to find out. It has a marking on it.
I've done some research including even trying to contact the company. I hope someone can help

Thanks.

Read More Answers

March 3, 2013

I have a Mappin and Webb goblet or trophy which says it is from 1884. All that is on the bottom is the Mappin and Webb stamp and 3 dots stamped in a triangle formation. Can anybody tell me if its silver or anything else about it? Thanks.

By Kyle

Answers

March 5, 20130 found this helpful

Hi - you should always go to Google for your information.
Just type in:
Mappin and Webb Silver Goblet

and you will see plenty of sites for information..

Reply Was this helpful? Yes
Answer this Question...
Advertisement

In This Page
Categories
Consumer Advice Collectibles MiscellaneousMay 28, 2014
Pages
More
😎
Summer Ideas!
📓
Back to School Ideas!
🌻
Gardening
🐛
Pest Control
😷
Coronavirus Tips
Facebook
Pinterest
YouTube
Instagram
Contests!
Newsletters
Ask a Question
Share a Post
Categories
Better LivingBudget & FinanceBusiness and LegalComputersConsumer AdviceCoronavirusCraftsEducationEntertainmentFood and RecipesHealth & BeautyHolidays and PartiesHome and GardenMake Your OwnOrganizingParentingPetsPhotosTravel and RecreationWeddings
Published by ThriftyFun.
Desktop Page | View Mobile
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Contact Us
Generated 2020-08-04 16:38:17 in 4 secs. ⛅️️
© 1997-2020 by Cumuli, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
https://www.thriftyfun.com/Determining-Silver-Plate-vs-Sterling-Silver.html

Add to PageAsk a Question