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Determining Silver Plate vs. Sterling Silver

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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.
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October 26, 2010

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

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By 0 found this helpful
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.

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By Tangie from Springville, AL

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April 23, 20110 found this helpful
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All of the sterling silver I have ever seen has sterling engraved on it. This is a beautiful tray.

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April 25, 20110 found this helpful
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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.

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November 13, 20160 found this helpful
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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.

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By 0 found this helpful
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.

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

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May 23, 20180 found this helpful
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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.

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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.

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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!

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By 0 found this helpful
February 12, 2019

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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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

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February 12, 20190 found this helpful

there should be markings say what it is

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By 0 found this helpful
July 14, 2019

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

Thanks.

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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!

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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.

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March 3, 20130 found this helpful

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..

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