FAQ



Q: How do I identify the pattern and the maker of my silver?

Answer: Over the years, some countries developed systems of hallmarking silver. The purpose of a manufacturer's hallmark is three-fold:

  • To indicate the purity of the silver alloy used in the manufacture or hand-crafting of the piece.
  • To identify the silversmith or company that made the piece.
  • To note the date and/or location of the manufacture or tradesman.

Click here for a guide to help you identify the most common manufacturers' trademarks. Just click on the name of the manufacturer to see the patterns that they make. If you can't identify your pattern with this tool, you can email a photo to 

info@beverly bremer.com Please be sure to include all markings on the back of the piece for proper identification. We will identify your pattern and mail you our free inventory list.


Q: What is the size of sterling silver flatware: Luncheon, Place or Dinner?

Answer: From the late 1800's through the mid 1900's silver manufacturers produced their silver patterns with two different sizes of knives and forks for a main course: luncheon, which was the smaller size, and dinner the larger size. Many people had and used both sizes; luncheon size was used primarily for breakfast and lunch, while the dinner size was used for more formal dinners. Luncheon and dinner sizes remain the standard for English, American and continental makers to this day. A size called: “grill” or “viande” was popular for a short time around WWII. The knives and forks are characterized with elongated handles and short knife blades and fork tines. 

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, many manufacturers introduced an entirely new size called the “place size”.  This size is commonly slightly larger than the luncheon size, but smaller than the dinner size.  Some renamed their smaller, luncheon size forks and changed only the style of the knife and began calling both the new place size.  To distinguish between the many pieces, the Gorham company often places a small

within a diamond on the back of the place forks as well as on the stainless steel blade of the place knife above the Gorham name. 

Place Fork and Place Knife pictured on the left. Luncheon Fork and Luncheon Knife French Blade on the right.

The many choices have confused consumers for the past fifty years. You do not need to be confused!  You may determine the size of your set by measuring the knife and largest fork in your place setting.   Place the fork face down on a ruler for the most accurate measurement.  A luncheon fork measures between 6 7/8" and 7 1/4" whereas a dinner fork can measure between 7 1/2" and 8".  The place size fork measures between 7 1/4" and 7 3/8". A luncheon knife measures 8 3/4" to 9" and a dinner knife between  9 5/8" and  10". The place knife measures 9 1/8" to 9 1/4" in length.  


Q: What is Coin Silver?

Answer: Coin Silver is a term used to describe American silver flatware and hollowware made before 1870 that is NOT Sterling. Coin Silver is 90% silver. The silver content is 2.5% less than Sterling and is the same composition as American coins made prior to 1964. Coin silver includes 10% copper.  

Silver then, as now, was a symbol of affluence. It was the product of skilled craftsmen who worked with precious metals. Precious and rare metals. For the early American Goldsmith or Silversmith, the titles were interchangeable until the mid 1800's, access to raw materials was a problem.   

Until the opening of the Comstock Lode in 1859 there were no silver mines in the United States of any significance. Before that nearly all silver in the US first came as either a finished product -- bowl, candlestick, spoon, or whatever -- or as a silver coin or bar. Most all silver imports were of European manufacture.  

Colonial currency was a hodgepodge of Pounds, Francs, and Pieces of Eight. The value of any given coin was determine by it's weight and silver or gold content.  

For the American silversmith to obtain raw materials he either had to purchase silver bars or melt silver coins. A silversmith with a rush order could, literally, reach into his pocket. And from that comes the generic term -- Coin Silver.  

Silversmiths would also buy silver items from the public. Most every silversmith's newspaper advertisement would also include an offer to buy.   

This partially explains the rarity of very early American silver. Many a spoon from the 1720's was melted down to become an 1820's spoon. Another reason that pre-1800 silver is rare is the fact that there were far fewer people and, of those, fewer still who could afford silver. As both population and wealth grew so did the demand for silver.  

Concurrent with US population growth came advances in technology. The 1780's brought a rolling machine for processing melt into sheets of silver. In 1801, Thomas Bruff of Chestertown, MD invented a spoon press. Hours previously spent on repetitious preparatory tasks could now be spent on ornamentation. Repoussed and Chased hollowware and patterned flatware began to replace the plain Federal styles.  

By 1855 Tiffany and Gorham were making exquisite silver and having difficulty selling it because: "It's not as good as English Silver"... and it wasn't. It was 90% silver. The English had been on the Sterling standard since the early 1300's. Their silver was 92.5%. It wasn't long before both Tiffany and Gorham were making Sterling silver.  

This, in turn, left Kirk, Wood & Hughes, William Gale & Son, and every other silversmith in America listening to: "Well, it's nice, but it's not as good as Tiffany or Gorham".  

By 1870 Sterling had all but replaced Coin Silver. The small, local silversmiths were replaced by jewelry shops and 'fancy goods' merchants. These shops sold sterling silver made in large, mostly Northern, factories.  

Perhaps because it is misunderstood, when compared to any other early Americana, Coin Silver remains a bargain. Certainly, important pieces by important silversmiths, such as Paul Revere, are bringing premium prices. But many beautiful pieces by lesser known, but equally skilled, smiths remain reasonably priced and available


Q: What is included in a hostess set?

Answer: A Hostess set includes:
A Tablespoon
A Cold Meat Fork
A Pierced Table Serving Spoon
A Gravy Ladle
A Master Butter Knife
A Sugar Spoon

In addition to these pieces we have many other serving pieces to complement your set! See our serving guide to identify pieces.  


Q: What is a French tapered knife?

Answer: The tapered blade tapers directly into the handle. Take your thumb and forefinger and run them up and down along where the blade and handle meet. If it is smooth on both sides, you have the tapered blade. If you feel a notch where the blade comes out of the handle at a right angle on one side, it is the french blade. Some knives have an extra bolster or a brushed finish and a rounded, blunt blade.


Q: How do I know if my silver is sterling or silver plate?

Answer: If your silver is sterling, it will either be marked sterling or it will have a mark of 925/1000. This means that 925 parts for every 1000 are pure silver- the standard for sterling, by law, passed in 1909.


Q: What is chased silver?

Answer: There are few techniques that offer such diversity of expression while still being relatively economical. Chasing is the opposite technique to repoussé, and the two are used in conjunction to create a finished piece. It is also known as embossing.

While repoussé is used to work on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front, chasing is used to refine the design on the front of the work by sinking the metal. The term chasing is derived from the noun "chase", which refers to a groove, furrow, channel or indentation. The adjectival form is "chased work".


Q: What makes silver tarnish?

Answer: Chemically, silver is not very reactive—it does not react with oxygen or water at ordinary temperatures, so does not easily form a silver oxide. However, it is attacked by common components of atmospheric pollution, then silver sulfide slowly appears as a black tarnish.

As the purity of the silver decreases, the problem of corrosion or tarnishing increases because other metals in the alloy, usually copper, may react with oxygen in the air. Sodium chloride (NaCl) or common table salt is known to corrode silver-copper alloy, typically seen in silver salt shakers where corrosion appears around the holes in the top.

Several products have been developed for the purpose of polishing silver that serve to remove sulfur from the metal without damaging or warping it. Because harsh polishing and buffing can permanently damage and devalue a piece of antique silver, valuable items are typically hand-polished to preserve the unique patinas of older pieces. Techniques such as wheel polishing, which are typically performed by professional jewelers or silver repair companies, are reserved for extreme tarnish or corrosion.


Q: Can I put my sterling silver in the dishwasher?

Answer: Sterling silver flatware may certainly go in your dishwasher.   We do recommend a few modifications to your typical washing procedures to make sure your silver stays as bright as the day you bought it:

  • Rinse your silver under the faucet before you put it in the flatware basket. This removes remnant food particles (particularly damaging substances like vinegar, lemon, or salt!) from your pieces to prevent any marring prior to the wash cycle.
  • Keep your silver flatware separate from any stainless pieces as they can scratch your silver.
  • Use a SMALL AMOUNT of detergent–and one with no lemon or citrus additives. Pre-measured tablets tend to have too much. A tablespoon (not even filling the cup designated) is plenty to clean your silver and dishes, while not causing them to yellow.
  • You may leave your silver in the dishwasher to dry with its drying cycle. Opinions differ on this, but it is safe to do so.
  • KNIVES: If your knives are old–pre-World War II– wash them by hand. Knives are formed from two pieces, the silver hollow handle and a blade. The heat from the dishwasher can melt the resin used in older knives to seal the two pieces, causing your knives to break apart.

If your silver is turning yellow… you could be using too much detergent. The bleach in the detergent may cause the discoloration. Polish your silver to remove the yellow coloring and use less detergent next time! So use your silver every day!  And let your dishwasher do the work for you.


Q: What type of serving piece do I have?


Q: What is my silver worth?

Answer: Much like the price of oil, gold, and stocks, the price of silver fluctuates every minute to reflect the bid and purchase of pure silver in the open market. And, just like oil, gold, and stocks, the price of silver has been extremely volatile in recent months. What does this mean for you?  It impacts the prices you pay for silver, the value of the silver you already own, and the potential price your silver might realize should you choose to sell.  For the collection you own, now may be the time to check with your insurance company and have your set reappraised. If you haven't had it evaluated, especially since a marriage long ago or an inheritance, now could be the time to ensure that your collection is properly accounted for.  We use Kitco.com to follow the price of silver, and we do look at it every single day. Go here http://www.kitco.com/charts/livesilver.html to follow along!


Q: How do you obtain your inventory?

Answer: Beverly Bremer Silver Shop purchases the previously owned pieces from reputable suppliers nationwide including auctions, estate sales and individuals. All items are carefully inspected for the highest quality. New pieces are purchased directly from the manufacturer. You may obtain a listing of what we have in inventory of your pattern here.


Q: How do I go about selling my silver?

Answer: If you would like to sell your sterling silver, please email us with your inventory form:

We will give you a careful appraisal for maximum value based on current market value and our present needs. (Monogrammed silver is difficult to sell; therefore your offer may not be as high as you expect.)


Q: Can I put my sterling in the dishwasher?

Answer: The manufacturer recommends washing by hand; however, washing in the dishwasher is safe if you make sure to separate sterling and stainless items. Also, because of the acids, do not use a lemon detergent. Click here for more information on how to properly care for your sterling


Q: Do I have luncheon or dinner size?

Answer: A luncheon fork, although perfectly acceptable to use for dinner, is close to 7 inches and a luncheon knife close to 9 inches.

The dinner fork is close to 7 1/2 inches and the dinner knife close to 9 1/2 inches. In the 50's a new size was introduced. This is called place size.

We understand that this can become quite confusing! If you have any questions regarding your set, please call 404-261-4009 or 800-270-4009 or email us at sterlingsilver@beverlybremer.com and a member of Beverly's expert staff will be glad to assist you.


Q: How can I tell if I have a tapered blade or a french blade?

Answer: The tapered blade tapers directly into the handle. Take your thumb and forefinger and run them up and down along where the blade and handle meet. If it is smooth on both sides, you have the tapered blade. If you feel a notch where the blade comes out of the handle at a right angle on one side, it is the french blade. Some knives have an extra bolster or a brushed finish and a rounded, blunt blade.


Q: How do I know if I have sterling or silverplate?

Answer: If your silver is sterling, it will either be marked sterling or it will have a mark of 925/1000. This means that 925 parts for every 1000 are pure silver- the standard for sterling, by law, passed in 1909.


Q: How do I determine the value of my sterling?

Answer: The best way to determine the value of your set is to have an appraisal by a licensed appraiser. In order to make an accurate assessment of its value, he will want to look and handle each piece. We do not appraise here; however, we can recommend an appraiser in the Atlanta area. To find one in your area, check your yellow pages or ask a local antique dealer.


Q: Is an appraised value different from an insurance replacement value?

Answer: That depends! Many choose to schedule their sterling silver separately on an insurance policy. If you have a loss and replace your set new from a department store, it would cost more than replacing it with nearly new silver from Beverly Bremer Silver Shop. Therefore, some may choose to use our price list as a reference for insurance replacement purposes as opposed to using the retail value.


Q: Isn't Sterling just for the dressiest occasions?

Answer: Absolutely not! Sterling silver use is not just limited to a formal dinner or a fancy gathering. There is no need to be afraid of your silver, so go ahead and take it out of hiding. You could and should use your sterling every day! Sterling is both attractive and functional, adding a touch of elegance to your day to day living.


Q: What if I don't have the time or energy to polish it regularly?

Answer: Sterling can be used for all occasions, and is recommended to be used daily. Sterling silver flatware is dishwasher safe (if manufactured after 1950) and easy to keep clean. Everyday use keeps the silver shiny and tarnish-free. It can be used anywhere in the house, from dresser jars, pin trays and sterling cups in the bathroom, to sterling vases, boxes, candlesticks, and bowls in the living/dining room; you can keep your silver on display at all times. Adding a touch of silver can make any room sparkle. Simply keep it dusted to prevent tarnish.

Sterling highlights your home with classic beauty and modern elegance. You can add a simple yet sophisticated detail to any dinner or room thanks to sterling's versatility. There is always room for a touch of class. The sterling water pitcher acts as a beautiful serving piece for your dinner table, yet can also serve as a modernly chic flower vase in your living area.

Don't let your good sterling stay hidden in a cabinet, unused and ignored. Let it have some fresh air! Enjoy your sterling silver year round and add that extra dash of style to every room in the house.