If the king’s head faces right, it was made before 1850. The word STERLING indicates Ireland as well as America.COIN, DOLLAR, and STANDARD were usually American terms, but some Irish makers also used them.Solid silver items are uncommon because solid silver is far too soft to hold up to use.
Martelé was made of silver of sterling or better quality, some with 950 parts silver to each 1000 parts.This is a list of American silver marks and solid American silver. Ornate capital letters or the fleur-de-lis were used in France.Other lists include silver-plated wares and pewter. Four or five small pictorial marks usually indicate England as the country of origin. Become familiar with the English king or queen’s head mark as an indication of age. Silver was stamped with a lion for London, a thistle for Edinburgh. A hand indicates Antwerp, a spread eagle Germany or Russia.Most unmarked items are silverplate, but there's always the chance that your piece is sterling.One of the easiest ways to tell the difference is to place the item in hot water.The earliest silversmiths in the colonies used their initials.Many makers used their last name, or first initial and last name. They were meant to mislead the public into believing that the silver was of English origin.Numbers like 10.15, 112, or 11/12 were stamped on the silver to indicate the percentage of pure silver in the metal.When the American silversmiths were first “discovered” in the early 1900s, most collectors felt that only the eighteenth-century makers were important.In addition, certain very rare pieces are also worth more.If you're on a budget but want to begin a great collection, consider collecting one of these items, which often retail for under apiece: Before you buy anything for your collection, it's absolutely essential that you understand the different types of silver.