What's It Worth? Hallmarking – The Distinction Of Baltimore Silver
Conventional wisdom holds that America is the only country without a proper silver hallmarking system. However, this isn’t entirely true.
Last month, a third-generation Philadelphia pawnbroker called us to help him empty his vaults. His family’s pawnshop had been in operation since 1931 and the man had worked there since he was a child in the 1950s. Now in his 70s, he decided to sell his family’s lifelong collection. We spent three days at his store and found many treasures — some of which had not seen the light of day since I was born. We bought single pieces for as much as $20,000.
While not overly expensive, two of the more interesting items were colonial Baltimore pieces made by one of the most important silversmiths of colonial days, Andrew Ellicott Warner. He was born in Havre de Grace, Md., and moved to Baltimore as a young man. Maryland was one of the few states that had a proper silver dating and hallmarking system. (Much non-Baltimore silver merely has the maker’s name only.) Interestingly, the first two assayers share the same last name as Mr. Warner — Thomas Warner and Joseph Warner.
The hot milk dispenser with wooden handle is circa 1805 and has an auction estimate of $800 to $1,000. The large creamer pitcher adhered to the new hallmarking system that corresponds to the date of 1816. Our auction estimate is $1,000 to $1,500. While both are dented and crude, we feel confident we’ll get close to our lower estimate. We paid the pawnbroker over $500 apiece for them.
If you have any sterling — particularly dated and hallmarked silver — or other valuable collectibles to sell, please give us a call.
You have seen us in Forbes Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. All rights reserved JEFF HESS, Owner & Appraiser
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