( Vintage copper chocolate pot )
Right after I graduated from college, I got a job on Newbury Street in Boston selling engagement rings. The store also carried paintings, sculpture, ivory, porcelain, and silver, but the owners put me on ring duty because I never got tired of talking to the customers. This type of patience is crucial when you’re attempting to sell an engagement ring, as it’s fairly common for a ring-buyer to deliberate for a couple of hours before finally making a commitment.
Anyway, I liked learning about cut, carat, color, and clarity, and my time at the shop definitely engendered an appreciation for beautiful antique jewelry. My favorite task, however, was researching the silver that came through. Oftentimes the owners would visit an estate sale and come back carrying boxes full to the brim with antique silver. Each piece would be stamped on the inside with several marks that indicated the maker and the date of production. My job was to hunt down the marks, identify the maker, and decide whether or not the utensils had any value. Most of all, though, I loved looking at and identifying the weird serving pieces– “okay, this looks like an olive spear, but actually the prongs at the end mean it’s actually meant for pickles…”
Have you ever seen a full antique silver serving set? Sugar spoons, sardine forks, oyster forks, broth spoons, pickle forks, fish forks, cranberry servers, pea spoons, asparagus tongs, jelly servers…
( Four silver images from here. )