Searching for Silver
This new matchsafe features a falconlike bird in the lower right and two small birds flying across a full moon in the upper right. It is marked Sterling around the rim. No old safe like this is known. This fantasy piece first appeared in 1992. It is still in production. Shown slightly larger than actual size.
This new shoe pin cushion has lots of details; the new chick pin cushion is about average. Shoe marked .925; chick marked Sterling. There is also part of a country name on the shoe that appears to be Mexico but is not legible. ACRN paid about $10 each wholesale. Note that the shoe has a jump ring; it could also show up as a charm.
Under U.S. law, articles marked "sterling" or "sterling silver" must test a minimum of .925 parts (92 percent) pure silver with no more than 004 variation.
New sterling matchsafes continue to appear in English fairs and markets. The pattern has been for the safes to first appear in England, then gradually spread into the American market. Many new safes are brought back to the US either knowingly or through honest mistakes as dealers stock. Other new safes are purchased by American collectors from English dealers offering new pieces through internet auctions.
An increasing number of silver reproduction match safes are being marked sterling. For the average buyer, this recent change will make the detection of new matchsafes as well as other new silver more difficult.
This sterling whistle arrived too late to be included in the February issue on Victorian silver novelties. It is 2 long.
Two more new matchsafes have been found marked sterling and .925. Since the mid-1970s, most silver reproductions were marked .925 only. Sterling was originally found only on vintage pieces of American silver. Only recently have reproductions been found with both sterling and .925. Any piece of silver marked with both .925 and sterling should be examined very closely for signs of normal wear and age.
This new sterling novelty appeared in November - December, 1997 in a silver importers catalog. Its made in a loose copy of early 19th century silver originals. It has a whistle on one end, bells on either side and a mother of pearl teether; overall length, 4. Like many other new sterling items, this piece is made in Thailand (note original crude string tag). The only permanent mark is Sterling stamped into the mouthpiece of the whistle.
The three vesta boxes, or match safes, shown below are currently being sold in England. Price in U.S. dollars in England is 2225 each. All are good quality silver plate; no markings of any kind are on the pieces. The insides of the new pieces have a frosty silver appearance with no sign of use or normal wear. The insides can be tarnished with chemicals, however, and that is not a reliable test of age. A better test is to look down inside the bottom at the tension spring the vertical bar that keeps the lid shut. The bottom of the new tension springs in these three new safes come to a sharp point. Virtually all old tension springs are rounded or squared off. New safes shown about actual size below.
While browsing around antique shows. I have seen a few tea sets in the Japanesque taste that, from a distance, appeared to be in the style of Tiffany silver. On closer examination, they turned out to be recently made sets manufactured in the electroforming process. Those sets were not stamped with the Tiffany & Co. silver marks. A few months ago, Beverly Bremer from Atlanta contacted me about a water set (Fig. 1) she had purchased, stamped with recognizable Tiffany marks, about whose authenticity she was having serious doubts.