Are My Items Silver or Silverplate?
Because Los Angele Gold & Silver is one of the top antique silver buyers in Los Angeles, we receive many inquiries each week from customers seeking to find out whether the silver items they have are pure silver or silver plated? In actuality most “pure” silver items are made of sterling silver which is 92.5% pure silver, with some other metal (usually copper) added for strength. Most items made of silver in the United States since the mid-1800’s will have the word Sterling or the number .925 stamped somewhere on the piece. The exception being items made of coin silver which may be marked “coin” or not marked at all. Coin silver items were produced using the silver of melted coins which tended to be of a slightly lesser purity than sterling. Because items made of coin silver tend to be older than sterling silver items, they often can have a greater “collectible” value as well.
The Stamping Act of 1906 was the first National law requiring silver objects to be marked, although some states had already adopted their own laws. Silver-plate or silver-plated items are composed primarily of a non-precious base metal that has been coated in a very thin layer of silver. This process allowed for the finished item to have the same basic luster and appearance of a sterling silver item, at a greatly reduced cost. EP, EPNS, Quadruple-plate, community plate, silver on copper, or just the word silver, are all common marks found on silver-plated items.
As one of the top antique silver buyers in Los Angeles we recommend to all of our customers that they bring their silver items in for a free appraisal. Our silver experts will be able to identify not only whether your items are sterling or silver-plate, but also tell you where, when and by whom they were made.