Is Your Sterling Silver Insured?

As an appraiser I am getting more calls that the client’s insurance company is requesting an appraisal for sterling silver flatware and hollow ware as part of the individual’s property coverage.  Frequently the homeowner isn’t sure what they have or how to determine whether it is “Sterling” of “Silverplate”.  There may be marks on the back of a piece that indicate what it is or there may be marks that represent silver made in countries other than the United States.  So how do you as the property owner know?

There are websites with articles about sterling silver and marks for the companies and countries.  A preliminary look on your part can help you decide whether to call an appraiser or not.

First look at the back of the piece.  If it is a fork, look at the handle. The writing can be small but it is generally readable if it is not worn.  A magnifying glass can be helpful.  In the United States a law was passed in 1907 that sterling silver had to be marked “Sterling”. But you may find the number .925 which is also a sterling mark for American silver.  Another mark is “coin silver” which was literally made from melting coins and can date to 1850.  This silver is soft and can break easily.  Silver that is 925 indicates it is 92.5 parts silver and 7.5% copper or brass.

English silver is indicated by a marking system. This is a series of marks generally in groups of four or five referred to as “hallmarks”. These include a purity mark, town or guild mark, date mark and a maker’s mark and often a mark identifying the reigning sovereign.  This system was used in England, Ireland and Scotland.

However, other countries also produced sterling silver and each of them have a marking system.  Therefore, never discount something until you are certain of its origin.

Silverplate is a process of electrochemically depositing a thin coating of silver on a base metal such as copper, nickel or steel.  These pieces may also be marked.  Some of the marks include the actual word “Silverplate”, A1, AA, Deepsilver, Electroplate, EP, EPNS Quadruple Plate.

There are many excellent resources found on the internet for identifying sterling silver and silverplate as well as maker’s marks.  But to be certain of what you have if you think it is sterling, call an appraiser.  The replacement cost may be far more than the cost of an appraisal.

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Carnival Glass Conventions

Have you ever considered collecting carnival glass.  This wonderful glass was made in the early 1900’s and reproduced in the 1970’s.  The early glass has a coloring and patina of its own.  As a collector, I have learned to recognize the “old” verses the new glass by the coloration and feel of the glass. And as a collector, I’m always interested in collections coming on the market at auctions.  In my opinion, he best collections are those offered at carnival glass conventions by long time collectors who are selling their entire collections although I’m sure they still have a piece or two at home.

I received the Jim Wroda Auctions catalog yesterday with photos of the glass offered at the ACGA 2015 Carnival Glass Convention auction June 19 and 20.  The brochure left me wanting to catch a plane to Ohio.  Visit their website http://www.jimwrodaauction.com for a complete auction listing. I especially liked the Hobstar Pickle Caster with frame. A truly rare piece.

The International Carnival Glass Association convention is in St. Louis, Missouri July 15-18, 2015.  This also promises to be a fantastic convention.  The theme of this years displays is Decorated Carnival with hand-painted decorated pieces on display.  For more information on this convention visit http://www.internationalcarnivalglass.com.

And now one of my favorite pieces from my collection – Dugan paneled cherry peach opalescent bowl with jeweled heart pattern exterior.2015 05 22_1578

Texas Homes Magazine Interview-The Importance of Getting Your Home Belongings Appraised

The Importance of Getting Your Home Belongings Appraised: An Interview with Beverly Morris of Morris Appraisal Service

By Beverly Morris

Tell us a little about your company and the services you offer.

Morris Appraisal Service was established in 1999 after relocating from Oklahoma City to Carrollton. Beverly Morris is a Certified Appraiser of Personal Property by the International Society of Appraisers, the largest personal property society in the United States. Our services include appraisals for insurance, divorce, equitable distribution, estate taxes, donation, damage claims, market values as well as consultations regarding sales of property and other needs. I also a speak for various antique clubs and organizations.

What are the most common residential items that people in Texas are having appraised?

Many insurance companies are now requiring insurance appraisals for antique furniture, silver, art, jewelry and other high value personal property. It is best to check with your agent to determine if an appraisal is needed. Individuals also request appraisals for special collections that may be insured apart from their homeowners policies. Although I do not appraise art and fine jewelry, I am always willing to refer a person to a specialist in that field.

Why is it important to have these items appraised and how is the appraisal info typically used?

Appraisals are typically used for obtaining insurance, determining the value of what the person has, selling property, pre-move and post-move insurance and damage claims, estate planning, equitable distribution among heirs, equitable division for divorces and donations. An individual may also consult an appraiser before buying a piece of antique furniture or fine art.

What qualifications should a reliable appraiser have?

A qualified appraiser will have membership in an appraisal association recognized by the government. All ISA appraisals are written to the U. S. Government’s Uniform Standards of Personal Property Appraisal. This standard is updated every two years and appraisers are required by ISA to attend an updated courses every two years. Upon joining ISA new members are required to take courses with examinations. These courses include the Core Course in Appraising which teaches the basics of what is an appraisal, ethics, business practices and communications, identification and authentication, research, terminology, report writing, legal aspects of appraising, expert witness, and IRS report writing. In addition to become an Accredited Member the person must complete a specialty course in their field, ie. Antiques and Residential Contents, Gems and Jewelry or Fine Art. Certified members are required to have a certain number of years experience, show 500 actual billable appraisal hours, and pass a five hour written exam. Members are required to re-qualify every five years through coursework and must show 100 hours of actual work and additional courses completed in their field. A person seeking an appraisal should ask for a professional profile and see if the individual is a member of an appraisal organization, look at the person’s experience and ask questions about the appraiser’s ability to appraise their property. As a generalist appraiser I often call on other appraisers to work with me on a report. If an individual has books, I call on a book appraiser to do the books while I do the other property and combine our reports into one document which both of us sign. If I just consult with another appraiser, I may or may not put this in the report, however, it is in my work file.

What happens if an antique, work of art or another item is appraised at a different value than the owner thinks it’s worth?

We all think our antiques have a certain value. Market trends, demand, condition, fashion fads and desirability all affect value. It is up to the appraiser through research and presenting the material to explain to the client how the value was established. As an appraiser all of my comparables and notes are retained in a work file so if there is a question beyond what I have put in my cover letter, I can respond to the client. I receive many calls from people wanting an appraisal to sell their property. Often after talking to the person, I refer them to certain web-sites and to visit antique malls as the value does not merit the expense of an appraisal. In addition to written researched appraisals there are verbal appraisals. Verbal appraisals are based on experience and do not include research unless I determine it is in the client’s best interest for me to come back to my office and do some quick research. Fees are hourly and I work by appointment.

What’s the best way for people to contact you and your company?

I may be contacted at morrisappraisal@msn.com or bmorris@bmorrisappraisal.com, office phone 972-418-9092 or cell 214-923-3123. All calls are returned. My website is www.bmorrisappraisal.com

If you have valuable items in your home that you would like appraised call me or check the North Texas Chapter of ISA website to find an appraiser in your area. If you live in another state go to the International Society of Appraisers website and the “Find An Appraiser” for a listing in your city or state. If you call me and this is not something I feel I am the best person to appraise the property, I am always happy to refer you to another appraiser.

Meissen Questions

Recently I have received several questions relating to Meissen patterns and marks. I am always happy to reply to emails, however, the last one I received with a photograph of a teapot proved to be one I could not answer due to the person’s email address. There are a number of companies that made a version of the Blue Onion pattern. There is a Strawflower pattern that is often mistaken for Blue Onion yet may be considered an onion pattern. However, the original pattern now known as Blue Onion or Onion Pattern did not start out to be called by this name. According to Robert E. Rontgen in his book “The Book of Meissen, Second Edition” the fruits or bulbs around the border were not meant to be onions. This pattern like many others originated in the Orient and was much in demand in Europe at the turn of the 18th century. According to Mr. Rontgen scholars agree that the fruits copied from the Chinese porcelain pattern resembled peaches and pomegranates alternating. As time progressed the pomegranates and peaches were simplified and became more in appearance as an onion. About 1740 the Royal Manufactory in Meissen developed another blue underglaze pattern known as Strawflower Pattern. The Royal Danish Porcelain Factory in Copenhagen, Denmark made this pattern internationally famous. The Strawflower Pattern was copied by over fifty factories in Europe and since 1920 it was mass produced in Germany. Source: “The Book of Meissen, Second Edition.”

Gardiner Museum, Toronto

If you love Seves porcelain then watch the newly released videos from the Gardiner Museum featuring Dame Rosalind Savill. You will see and learn about three of her favorite pieces of porcelain dating to the 1700’s. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InvlNZ7Kr3g.  Dame Rosaline Savill was the keynote speaker at the Charleston Arts and Antiques Forum that I attended in March.  She began her museum career as a museum assistant at the Victoria & Albert Museum’s Ceramics Department in 1973 and stated her first job was “washing pots”.  She  is a very interesting, friendly and wonderful speaker and Director Emeritus of The Wallace Collection. She was appointed a Commander of the British Empire for Services to Ceramics in 2000 and a Dame of the British Empire for Services to the Arts in 2009. She is a fellow of the British Academy, and sits on a number of boards.

Pot Holes and Pottery

There is nothing like doing research on pots to learn little known trivia.  In his book Manufacturing Processes of Tableware During the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, Robert Copeland explains in the Appendix of the book under Pottery Trade Sizes how the potter working with raw materials dug from the ground learned to be intensely practical.  According to Mr. Copeland, who I had the pleasure of meeting while attending the Northern Ceramics Society summer school in Chester several years ago, the ever practical and sinful Burslem potters in the seventeen century when they ran short of clay dug some clay from the road. Thus the term “potholes” was born!  

Most  journeymen, journeywomen and some of the masters potters in the early days of the Staffordshire pottery industry were illiterate. A system for establishing wages had to be simple and easily understood.  The method adopted was based on the “dozen” for which one price was fixed for a single size of each object, so that to obtain that price a maker needed to make twelve articles.  The price per dozen held for all the other sizes made of the same design, but, in order to obtain that price either more smaller articles or less larger ones had to be made.   The “count to the dozen” was determined by the number of pieces of a given size would fit on a standard size of work-board in the case of clay articles, or which would fit into a warehouse basket, in the case of fired ware. This information all becomes important to the appraiser when appraising a set of 19th or earlier china because of the variance in sizes of plates and other pieces.  While plates were generally 10″, 9″, 8″, 7″, 6″, 5″, and 4″ manufacturers often increased the actual diameter of the plate charged them to the customer, and paid the maker at the lower price so often a 10″ trade plate might measure 10 1/2″.  All this also affected how the tradesman and the potter was paid.  This is a very interesting book and one collectors of porcelain and china would find beneficial in understanding the processes that go into making and sizing of dinnerware of the 17 and 18th century. 

For example, a plate made by Royal Crown Derby may measure 9 3/4″ with none of the replacement patterns showing a 9 3/4″ plate. There is a maker’s name, but no pattern number and a red mark. Royal Crown Derby did not use a pattern name or number on pieces made in the early 1800’s.  They used a number in their pattern books.  Therefore, in a recent appraisal I was able to date the piece with the help of the Royal Crown Derby company, in Burslem, but could not identify the pattern by name.  This is one of the challenges that face an appraiser and keep the profession interesting.        

Checked your insurance policy lately for coverage of your antiques?

As an appraiser I tend to take care of other’s peoples needs far more than my own. My latest homeowner’s insurance policy caused me to take a second look at the coverage for my antiques. Yes, I do have them including some furniture, lots of carnival glass, Belleek porcelain, blue transferware plates, china, depression glass, etc. I also have some nice jewelry my husband of 48 years has given me. I called the agent and discovered I only have $1000.00 coverage on my antiques and $1000.00 on my jewelry! She then informed me I needed an appraisal! Well guess what I am an appraiser and now I have to have someone come appraise my property. So don’t think because you have household contents coverage your antiques are all covered under the contents. Check with your agent and call a certified appraiser to appraise for insurance replacement cost of your property. To further protect yourself inventory the items, photograph them and give a copy to a trusted friend on put on a flash drive in a safe deposit box. In case of loss it will jog your memory.