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Guide to Victorian antique silver

Sliver is not valued today nearly as much as it was in the Victorian Era. The focus today is more on gold, which is a reflection of how far we have advanced in the financial realm. Pewter household goods and jewellery wouldn't sell at a flea market for more than a pound now, but it was extremely expensive and most people dreamed of owning it. Back then it had the value of high quality gold, diamonds, and other gems today.

Victorian antique silver: The Victorian era

The Victorian Era coordinated to the reign of Queen Victoria, spanning from 1837 to 1901. This was an exciting era that saw the widespread use of gas electric in homes and businesses and anaesthetics such as chloroform became widely available in hospitals.

  • Some of what we consider normal everyday life right now was starting to emerge in common society.
  • Part of the progress made was the graduation from using pewter (often called the poor man's silver) to silver plating with pure silver.
  • This made silver plated household goods and jewellery more popular (and expensive) while more everyday people were suddenly able to afford pewter items.

Victorian antique silver: Victorian silver plating

The value of Victorian silver depended on how much silver was used in the mix that coated the items. You had the standard silver plating which used a low level of pure silver in the mix, but there was also such thing as triple and quadruple silver plating which simply meant three or four times the pure silver was included in the mix.

Therefore, standard silver plated household goods and jewellery would be much lower in price than quadruple silver plated items.  Today, the same thing holds true as it is very rare to find quadruple silver plated Victorian antique silver being sold anywhere on the open market. Most people know their value and hang onto them, passing them down through the generations.

Recognising Victorian antique silver

Victorian antique silverIt is extremely difficult for the untrained eye to tell the difference between genuine Victorian antique silver plated items and cheaply made silver plated items from later times. Just because something looks old doesn't mean it is Victorian era and just because it looks cheap or insignificant doesn't mean it isn't worth something.

In general, Victorian era silver plated items tend to have very elaborate designs unless they were used in hotels or other service industries. Household items were typically decorated with birds or floral designs. Since those are common designs in many other eras and even in our modern world, that doesn't help most people who don't have a lot of experience looking at true Victorian era goods.

One dead giveaway for Victorian era antique silver goods would be the "quadruple plated" marking that was placed on the top-of-the-line goods which received the silver plating mix that contained four times more pure silver than standard plating goods. These items are extremely rare to find today and are worth more than other Victorian era silver plated goods in our modern times.

It is very important to have a trained eye look over anything that may have value, whether it is silver or gold. In general, Victorian antique silver doesn't go for a huge amount of money today, but it does have more value than many people would imagine.

Find out about how you may be able to find examples of Victorian antique silver to buy at our fortnightly vintage sales.