Reproduction Victorian Era Sterling Silver - Jewelry to Novelties
Including chatelaines, sewing items, tape measures, figural hinged boxes, pins and novelties.
A U.S. west coast jewelry and gift wholesaler produced an extensive line of Victorian look-alike sterling silver items at a major summer gift show. This line was promoted as "Antique Reproductions--where the past meets the present." There are about 60 individual items ranging from jewelry to novelties that have been copied from or made to resemble Victorian era originals.
All the sample items from this line purchased for this article are made in Thailand or Indonesia and are marked as such with removable paper labels or tags (Fig. 7). All pieces are stamped either "sterling" or ".925" and all tested correctly for the silver content claimed.
Many, but not all, of the pieces in this line of reproductions are marked with the letters "REO" which can appear alone or with a circular copyright mark (Figs. 5 & 6). The lettering is only 1/16th inch high and is often illegible. On some pieces the REO mark appears on a small rectangular plate which is soldered to the main body (Fig. 5) which is an obvious clue of recent manufacture.
The overall quality of the pieces is quite good. All the small handles on the figural pieces move; all hinges and latches operate smoothly. Small details, like the spout on the figural teapot hinged box, are made separately and applied with virtually no trace of a seam.
Patterns on some pieces might be slightly blurred when compared to originals but most patterns are generally sharp and clear. Weight of the new pieces is also close to originals. Many silver reproductions we have examined, especially those from England and Italy, are bulky and heavy pieces made by casting. Most originals were made by stamping a sheet of silver with a design then joining them in the final shape and polishing out the seam. Weight alone is not a reliable indication of age because weight will vary from shape to shape and often depends on what use a particular piece was designed for such as jewelry, which does not require strength, or a sewing gadget which must be sturdily built to be practical.
Some new pieces--like the bubble blower and kaleidoscope--are easy to catch because there are no old counterparts. Other new pieces, especially without the REO mark, may be hard to detect. Try to keep informed on what shapes are being reproduced and inspect all those very carefully.
Fig. 1 This cat's head sterling tape measure is just one of a large number of new sterling Victorian reproductions entering the market. Only permanent mark is "sterling" and ".925"; enlarged to show detail, actual size 1 1/4" diameter.
Figs. 2-4 Sterling silver tape measures from 1904 Unger Bros catalog (Fig. 2). Baby rattle, ca. 1895, with sterling silver bells and whistle fitted with mother of pearl (Fig. 3). Sterling silver hem rulers or gauges, 1904 Unger Bros. catalog (Fig. 4).
Fig. 5 The mark, "REO" with or without a copyright symbol (Fig. 5 above, and Fig. 6, below) is stamped on about half of the Victorian sterling silver reproductions in this article. All pieces are stamped "sterling" or ".925".
Fig. 7 Goods imported from abroad into the United States must be marked with the country of origin. The mark is not required to be permanent. The sterling items in this article are made in Thailand and Indonesia as shown on these two removable tags.
Fig. 8 (New) Sterling tape measure.
Fig. 9 New tapes are steel & include metric
Fig. 10 Old tapes are cloth, inches only
Figs. 8-10 The new sterling tape measures like the cat head in Fig. 8 have steel tape measures which include both English and metric units. Virtually all old tape measures made in or for America have cloth tapes with English inches only.
Fig. 11 Vinaigrette
Fig. 12 Figural box
Figs. 11-12 The new vinaigrette in Fig. 11 includes a pad. The hinged box in the shape of a cathedral radio in Fig. 12 is not Victorian but it was interesting enough to include.
Figs. 13-15 Among the new pieces are a variety of golfing items. These include a life size golf ball that is a hinged figural box, (Fig. 13) shown on a holder (golf ball is separate). Hinged box with a lady golfer (Fig. 14). Golf bag pin (Fig. 15). All golf items shown about actual size.
Figs. 16-19 All shown about actual size. Scissors holder (Fig. 16); Hem gauge (Fig. 17); Baby rattle with sterling bells and whistle fitted to mother of pearl (Fig. 18); Hinged needle case (Fig. 19, most all old needle cases have removable tops and are not usually hinged.)
Figs. 20-22 Figural hinged boxes, shown slightly larger than actual size. Teapot (Fig. 20); Cottage (Fig. 21); Basket (Fig. 22). The detail on all the boxes is quite good. For example, both lids raise on the basket and there are working latches at each end.
Figs. 23-25 Fig. 23 is a hinged figural box shaped like a suitcase. Fig. 24 is called a "bubble blower" by wholesaler; we couldn't find any evidence of an old counterpart ever being made. Fig. 25, note pad with pencil. All shown about actual size.
Figs. 26-27 Fig. 26 is a chatelaine pin with a reclining art nouveau styled woman in the center. Fig. 27 is a 2 1/2" kaleidoscope. Cozy Baker, of the Brewster Society which is a kaleidoscope collectors club, says there are no old sterling silver kaleidoscopes of this size known. Some very high quality contemporary kaleidoscopes of this size have been made but only as fine pieces of jewelry and are fully signed and dated by the maker and collected as works of art. The wholesale price of this kaleidoscope was $38. Both chatelaine and kaleidoscope are shown about actual size.