What to Collect
The World of Collectible Silver
An Overview of Diverse and Unique Types of Solid Silver Collectibles to Add to Your Collection
If you are new to collecting silver, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. There are many different types of silver collectibles out there, and it can be difficult to decide which ones to focus on. However, there are a few key categories that are popular among collectors, and can provide a good foundation for your collection. Whether you are a seasoned collector or a newcomer to the hobby, there are many different types of silver items to choose from, ranging from coins and jewelry to tableware and artwork. This article will explore some of the most popular types of solid silver items available for collectors and offer some tips on how to spot the real deal and avoid counterfeit or fake items. Solid silver collectibles are items made entirely out of silver. These can range from coins to jewelry to artwork, and have been created for centuries.
Here are some of the most popular types of solid silver collectibles:
Tableware: Solid silver tableware is a classic collectible. Tableware includes teapots, serving dishes, and other table accessories. Sterling silver tableware has been used in homes and fine dining establishments for centuries, and is highly sought after by collectors. Brands such as Tiffany & Co., Gorham, and Reed & Barton are highly sought after. Other popular makers of solid silver tableware include Kirk Stieff, Wallace, and International Silver. Look for markings such as "925," "sterling," or the maker's hallmark to ensure that the item is made of solid silver.
Antique silverware: Antique silverware, such as spoons, forks, and knives, have been popular collectibles for centuries. The styles and designs of antique silverware vary widely, from ornate Victorian pieces to sleek Art Deco designs. Many antique silverware sets are highly collectible, and can fetch high prices at auction. Some of the most famous silverware brands include Tiffany & Co., Reed & Barton, and Gorham. Other popular makers of antique silverware include Whiting Manufacturing Company, Dominick & Haff, and William Rogers.
Silver Artwork: Silver art includes a wide range of pieces, from sculptures to unique and highly detailed custom silver rounds, bars and other pours to hand crafted silver jewelry. Silver sculptures, figurines, and miniatures are also popular collectibles and are becoming more popular in recent years. Silver sculptures and figurines can range in size from small desk ornaments to large statues, and can depict a wide range of subjects, from animals and nature scenes to human figures and abstract forms. Some well-known silver artists include Paul Storr, Robert Garrard, and Christopher Lawrence. Some other notable silver artists include Hester Bateman, Tiffany Studios, Fabergé, and Emile Puiforcat. Silver jewelry can range from simple silver bands to elaborate necklaces and bracelets, and can be set with precious and semi-precious stones. There is a thriving community of independent artists crafting stunning 3D silver art, as well as the larger mints that are producing some impressive limited edition collectible pieces. To authenticate the maker and material of the artwork, it's recommended to check for markings on the piece or accompanying paperwork such as a Certificate of Authenticity (COA).
Coins and Bars: Silver coins have been minted since the beginning of civilization and remain the most popular solid silver collectible item today, with a wide range of options available for collectors. Some of the most sought-after silver coins include the American Silver Eagle, the Canadian Maple Leaf, the Chinese Silver Panda, the Mexican Libertad, the Austrian Philharmonic, and the Australian Kookaburra. Many collectors also seek out rare and historic coins, such as the 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar or the 1933 Double Eagle. Many collectors focus on specific types of coins, such as commemorative coins, proof coins, or coins featuring specific designs or themes. Ancient silver coins are highly collectible, with some dating back thousands of years. Enthusiasts of numismatics may find modern collectible coins appealing due to their depictions of renowned figures and references to popular culture icons. These coins may feature representations of beloved characters or scenes from television shows and movies, which could spark the interest of collectors. Be sure to authenticate any ancient coins before purchasing, and look for markings such as "999" or "fine silver" on modern coins.
Silver Medals: Silver medals are a unique type of solid silver collectible that are often used to commemorate special events or achievements. The Olympic Games, the Nobel Prize, the World Cup, the World Series, and the Academy Awards are just a few examples of events that have been commemorated with silver medals. Silver medals can range in size from small tokens to large commemorative pieces, and can be highly collectible for their rarity and historical significance.
Jewelry: Silver jewelry has been worn for centuries, and many antique pieces are considered valuable collectibles. From vintage brooches to modern bracelets, solid silver jewelry can be a beautiful addition to any collection. Designers such as David Yurman, John Hardy, and Elsa Peretti are highly collectible. Look for markings such as "925" or "sterling" to ensure the item is solid silver.
Decorative items: Silver decorative items, such as picture frames, silver bells, vases, and candlesticks, are popular among collectors for their beauty and functionality. Decorative silver items associated with holidays, particularly solid silver Christmas ornaments, are highly sought after by collectors. Many well-known brands, makers, and designers create such ornaments, which are cherished by collectors due to their exceptional craftsmanship, distinctive designs, and historical value. Some of the most popular brands and makers include Towle Silversmiths, Wallace Silversmiths, Reed & Barton, Gorham, among others. Collectors value these ornaments as they serve as not only beautiful pieces to adorn their holiday decorations but also as significant historical artifacts that preserve the traditions and memories of past generations.
When it comes to silver items, it's important to keep in mind that not all of them are made of solid silver. In fact, many silver items are either plated with a thin layer of silver or made from a mixture of silver and other metals. These non-solid silver items are generally less valuable than solid silver collectibles.
One type of non-solid silver item is electroplated items, which are coated with a thin layer of silver using an electroplating process. These items can be identified by markings such as "EPNS" or "electroplate." Silver plated items, on the other hand, have a thicker layer of silver than electroplated items but are still not solid silver. They can be identified by markings such as "EP" or "silver plate."
Weighted items are also a type of non-solid silver item. These items are made from a base metal and then filled with a substance such as cement to give them weight. They are often sold as "silver" items, but they are not made entirely of silver.
Other examples of non-solid silver items include:
Silver-filled items: These items are made by bonding a layer of silver to a base metal core. They are not considered solid silver because the layer of silver is usually quite thin.
Silver overlay items: These items have a layer of silver bonded to a non-silver base. The layer of silver is thicker than that of electroplated or silver-filled items, but the item is still not considered solid silver.
By knowing about the different types of non-solid silver items, collectors can make informed decisions about which items to purchase and how much to pay for them. While non-solid silver items may be less valuable than their solid silver counterparts, they can still be beautiful and interesting additions to a collection.
When collecting solid silver items, it is important to be aware of the risk of purchasing fake or counterfeit items. Be sure to purchase from reputable sellers, and do your research to authenticate any item before purchasing. There are also various preservation methods that can be used to restore and protect your silver collectibles.
In addition to authenticity and preservation, you also want to consider the overall condition of the item. Look for items with minimal damage or wear and tear, as these will generally hold their value better over time. Additionally, consider the rarity of the piece, as rarer items tend to appreciate in value more quickly than common items. By considering both the condition and rarity of the pieces you purchase, you can ensure that your collection not only looks great but is also a smart investment.
Diversifying your collection is an important aspect of collecting silver items. It can add variety and depth to your collection, and also help you to discover new pieces that you may not have considered before. One way to diversify your collection is to explore different categories of silver collectibles, as we listed above. Another way to diversify your collection is to explore different eras of silver collectibles. Silver has been used in decorative and functional items for centuries, and there are many different styles and eras to choose from.
Some popular eras include:
Georgian: This refers to silver items made during the reigns of George I, II, III, and IV, from 1714 to 1830. Georgian silver is known for its intricate designs and high level of craftsmanship.
Victorian: This refers to silver items made during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901. Victorian silver is often highly ornate and can feature intricate designs and engravings.
Art Nouveau: This refers to silver items made in the early 20th century, characterized by flowing lines and organic shapes. Art Nouveau silver is highly collectible and often very beautiful.
When diversifying your collection, you should have a budget in mind and stick to it. It can be easy to get carried away when collecting, but it's important to remember that there will always be more silver items to discover. By exploring different categories and eras of silver collectibles, you can keep your collection interesting and varied, while also staying within your budget.
Collecting solid silver items can be an exciting hobby, whether you're new to the scene or a seasoned collector. While there are many different types of silver collectibles available, some popular categories include tableware, antique silverware, artwork, coins, silver medals, jewelry, and decorative items. To ensure that you're purchasing authentic solid silver items, be sure to look for markings such as "925" or "sterling," as well as the maker's hallmark. Additionally, it's important to authenticate any ancient coins before making a purchase. With so many options available, the possibilities for building a solid silver collection are endless. Whether you're interested in adding to an existing collection or starting fresh, exploring these different categories can be a great way to get started collecting silver.