Unloved Antiques: 1847 Rogers Brothers Flatware

The Victorian-meets-Art Deco styling of the Rogers 1847 flatware in the “Adoration” pattern, first made in 1930. While many people have similar sets of “Grandma’s Sterling,” they are seldom worth more than $75-$100.

The sixth item in this series of Unloved Antiques is early 20th century flatware; the 1847 Rogers flatware sets in particular. Such sets were often referred to as “Grandma’s Sterling,” ¹ received as wedding or anniversary gifts after the turn of the 19th century and passed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter.

These sets were seldom ever used, spending whole generations stashed in sideboards beneath the “good china,” used only at Christmas and Easter. Such flatware services were mass produced items, boxed in matched sets of six to 12 place settings, with the better ones having serving utensils and a carving set included. Virtually every major American silver company produced flatware lines of both Sterling silver and silver electroplate in multiple patterns. Of these companies, the Rogers Brothers name is probably the best known, having produced more than 100 known patterns under the Rogers’ 1847 trademark.

A close-up of the 1847 Rogers Bros. mark.

The first problem—as far as value is concerned—starts with their company trademark, “1847 Rogers.” To many, such a mark appears as a guarantee the set is very old, as many a client has told me in the past:

“See? It says right here it was made in 1847” or

“It must have been in the family for more than 150 years.”

This set came with a velvet/satin lined case. It have places settings for 12, along with several serving pieces.

Unfortunately, like a lot of marks of this type, they only indicate the date the company was founded and not the date the set was actually made. The second problem is that, although Rogers Brothers as a company does date back to 1847, this same mark (with minor variations) has been used by three companies: the original Rogers Brothers; Meriden Britannia company; and International Silver Co.

The “Rogers Bros.” trademark was taken over by the Meriden Britannia company after they purchased the Rogers Brothers company in 1862 and used to at least 1898. The mark moved on again when Meriden Britannia merged with a number of other silver companies to form the International Silver Company in 1898. The “Rogers 1847” marking was used on International’s high-grade silver plate into the late 20th century.

The set above—a mix of Victorian and Art Deco styling in a velvet/satin lined case—is typical of Rogers 1847 patterns made during the 1930s. This particular pattern is the very popular “Adoration” pattern, first made in 1930. The set, containing 87 pieces, has place settings for 12 and as can be seen in the images is in “as new” condition, as far as anything of this age can be, that is.

In the current market, any silver electroplated services like this that was made before the Second World War often fail to bring bids of $200 at auction. This particular set only managed to get bids up to $75, missing its reserve of $150 and failed to sell.

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¹ “Grandma’s Sterling,” is often loosely applied by family members to include all forms of silvery-looking cutlery and hollowware, such as tea services that are not Sterling silver, but silver-plate-over-copper or Britannia metal. Sterling silver is 925/1000ths parts pure silver. Twentieth-century American Sterling silver will be marked to indicate this with a numerical mark such as
“925” or with the word “Sterling.” One should always carefully examine any silver item for either of these marks, due to the current high price for scrap silver, Sterling silver sets of the same size as silver electroplated one shown above routinely sell at auction for more than $2,500.

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Previous “Unloved Antiques” articles:

Unloved Antiques: ‘Limited Edition’ Collectors Plates
Unloved Antiques: Singer Sewing Machines
Unloved Antiques: Decorator Prints
Unloved Antiques: Commemorative Whiskey Decanters
Unloved Antiques: ‘Bronze’ Flatware

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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  1. Maura Graber says:

    It is so sad that this article post is titled “Unloved Antiques” as I assure you, that 1847 Rogers Bros flatware is loved my me, and my young etiquette class students. Sure… I know that they need to be able to write notes of thanks, learn basic social graces and all of the new tech etiquette, not just how their great-grandparents once ate. And I realize many experts feel that since these items are not as valuable as Gorham or Tiffany items, they aren’t worth anything to anyone else. However, kids, young adults and even many 30-somethings who have grown up using plastic utensils, find these items of great interest. That makes them valuable to me.
    Our fondness of fast foods since June Cleaver walked out of her kitchen, left the Wallys, Beavers and Eddie Haskells of the world clueless about utensils when it came to raising their own kids. My guess is that many of the truly odd and lower priced items I find (because they are 1847 Rogers Bros, or Community plate, etc…) were never produced in sterling unless they caught the eye of consumers and generated buzz way back when. These wonderful and exquisitely unique knives, forks & spoons are passed around through my classrooms and even in some museums, while attendees so anxious to learn, ooh and ahh over them.
    I shouldn’t complain though, as so much of what people sell as “junk” or “scrap” when they find it is not of much value, are my new treasures. Why, I feel the pride of June Cleaver in her strand of pearls and a crisp new dress when I find a fork so weird, I just have to show it to my students! Or maybe I just feel like Eddie Haskell in his new vest. As Eddie put it, “Hey, guys, like my new vest? I think it brings out the Peter Lawford in me.”

  2. Joyce Rau says:

    Well LO and BEHOLD I guess the set of Interntional Sterling “silver rhythm” isn’t worth much then either.

    • Mike Wilcox says:

      A great deal of silver electroplate is “Unloved” in the financial sense, but some examples, particularly some Art Nouveau and Art Deco style examples can be very valuable. This is why I singled out one particular brand, to limit the idea that all silverplate is “Unloved”

      • John Myers says:

        I agree totally! While the article skips over high end silver plate such as the Christofle patters plated over nickel (scratches through the silver will still look “silver” and not “coppery”) can be incredibly expensive, financially. Especially to owners trying to fill in gaps in a service due to loss, garbage disposal mishaps, or pieces they never got from the years-ago bridal registry.

        Same with the International line.

        The nice thing about getting Grandma’s Sterling (I love that name!!) is that it gives many owners the ability to have “nice” silver on the table without the huge investment in sterling silver. Given the choice between this and a Holiday table dressed with the everyday stainless steel, I’ll go plate every day!

        More of the re-sale market may be in selling by the piece either to collectors of a particular pattern or piece (citrus spoons or asparagus servers, etc.)

        Full set collecting is an inexpensive way to set aside a flatware service to match a particular china-crystal combination without a huge investment (for a “look” that might come out a couple of times a year.) The secret is of course to know how to keep it clean since plate tends to tarnish more quickly and more darkly than sterling (in my experience.)

        And if you’re looking for *obscure* pieces (a RED tomato server vs. a GREEN tomato server, or a Rochambeau Stuffing Spoon,) always look to silver plate first.

  3. Lauren says:

    I just had the a box of the adoration pattern passed down to me today. It was given to my grandfather from the citizens in the small town he grew up in, as a thanks for his service in WWII. Even though I know that it’s “technically” not worth much financially, it’s worth a lot more in my heart. I love the adoration set for it being classic without being too overbearingly posh. I plan to use it for thanksgiving dinner next week and every holiday dinner afterwards.

    • Lauren says:

      I actually have 2 unknown forks. They’re too long to be either the salad fork or the dinner fork, but I only have 2 of them. I don’t know if they’re meant for serving anything in particular or if they are 2 of a set that may have been misplaced.

    • Carolyn Powers says:

      They are most likley ice cream forks! Ice cream forks are like salad forks with really long handles.

    • asmythy50 says:

      Life is short, and basically this has worth to you, but to no one after you go. Honor your grandpa and use it for dinner EVERYDAY! I took my Czech china out of storage after 10 years. It’s not that valuable, but I bought it in college when it seemd like a fortune. I feel great everytime I pull out those plates. And if they break, well, there’s always a new “worthless” set of china waiting for me at the next estate sale!

  4. Mike Wilcox says:

    Hi Lauren, they could be meat forks, once part of the carving set.

  5. asmythy says:

    Being in estate sales, we get this differing perspective all the time — value (emotional) vs. value (monetary.) I’m assuming by “unloved,” he meant by shoppers at auctions, who have little or no attachment. You can’t use one to justify the other. If the price is too high, they don’t love it. And your emotional attachment has nothing to do with it’s value. And let’s face it, it wasn’t cherished or it wouldn’t be up for sale, right? So often, once we spend hours and hours “loving” your silver (polishing to increase its potential to sell), our clients suddenly realize just how much they “love” it, after it moldered in a drawer for a lifetime. You’ll never see such an almost comical rendering of those opposing forces of VALUE evident simulataneously as when they struggle to decide whether or not to re-purchase their former belongings! It’s value for me is twofold: how much someone will pay for it, how much enjoymnt I personally would receive USING it. I’m glad the students enjoy using it. I hope they value polishing it, too. Willingess to care for your stuff is an important lesson — almost as important as letting it go when you no longer can, or consider maintenance to be in excess either of pleasure in ownership or use.