Q. This 3-piece set was a wedding present to my mother in 1934. It was given to her by an antique dealer in Manhattan. The pieces are not marked sterling but each has 3 small symbols stamped on their underside. I would like to know something about their age and value. Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
A. Your silver tea set consisting of a teapot, waste bowl and covered sugar bowl appears to be of Dutch origin. Looking at the marks in the photograph you provided, it was made in 1880. This silver set is 83.3% pure silver (the remainder is most likely copper) and not that of the modern standard sterling ratio of 92.5% (adopted in Holland in 1953). Unfortunately, I could not decipher the city of origin or maker.
The repouseé style (similar to embossing) of this set was very popular at this time which was referred to as the Aesthetic Movement. The Aesthetic Movement emphasized “art for art’s sake.” Designs had common themes from nature including flowers, birds and figures depicting social ideology. The “putti” (like cherubs but without wings) appear to be Remus and Romulus. On one side of the teapot they seem to be on good terms and on the other, it appears Romulus has a spear in his hand and is ready to strike Remus. This is one of the interpretations of this famous Roman myth.
I do not know the size and weight of these pieces, determining the maker and rarity would require additional research. These factors would need to be considered in determining value. Generally, due to the lower silver content of this set, its value would be less than one which has a higher silver content.
Karen Waterman is a fine art, antique furniture and decorative arts appraiser in the East Bay area and will answer as many questions about your own “hidden treasures” as possible. By sending a letter or email with a question, you give full permission for use in the column. Names, addresses or e-mail will not be published and photos will be returned if requested. Send e-mails (digital photos are encouraged) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send snail mail to East Bay Newspapers, Attn. Karen Waterman, P.O.Box 90, Bristol, RI 02809.