Unloved Antiques: Silver-Plated Souvenir Spoons

A collection of silver-plated souvenir spoons, while cherished by their collectors, has no real monetary value. They often sell in lots of 25 for $25.

The next item in this series about unloved antiques is mid-20th century silver-plated souvenir spoons. Most owners of these collections think they are quite valuable, often under the impression they are all made of Sterling silver. Most everyone has at least a couple, received as a gift from a traveling relation from some exotic locations such as Topeka, Grand Rapids or Walla Walla.

The problem with these collections starts when you gush with enthusiasm about these gift spoons to your Aunt Hilda or Cousin Jack, who gave you spoon in the first place. They take it as a notion that you really, really like them and continue to send you another spoon every time they make an excursion more than 100 miles from home. Before you know it, the rest of the family catches wind of your desire for these lovely things and join Aunt Hilda in the mission to send you more for holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Easter and even events such christenings.

In estate situations, we have seen some collections reach upwards of 300 of these spoons, hung on kitchen walls where Aunt Hilda & Cousin Jack would see them when they visit. The lovely plywood display racks they are hanging from often being the product of Cousin Jack’s questionable carpentry skills, some holding 50 spoons or more.

Unlike their Sterling silver cousins, which currently have a base silver bullion value of about $30, regardless of where they are from. And in the case of some of the rarer spoon examples, one could expect to sell them for $350 or more. But the virtually identical silver-plated examples—which make up the vast majority—often sell for less than $25 for sets of 25.

An example of a series of silver hallmarks, this one from Glasgow, Scotland.

So, if you have been the longtime recipient of these souvenir spoons, or have inherited them from a family member, how can one tell which is which? It’s quite easy to determine if your spoons are the far more valuable Sterling examples, the difference is that “Sterling Silver” items nearly always have a mark to indicate the silver content of the metal. American examples will be marked “Sterling” or “925” (Sterling silver being 925/1000ths pure silver), while the British and European examples will also be marked to indicate the silver content, with a series of Hallmarks—each country has its own set of stamps to indicate a maker, location and the year made. The silver-plated example this article refers to will have marks such as “EP” (Electroplate), “EPBM” (Electroplated Britannia Metal), “EPNS” (Electroplate on Nickel Silver; nickel silver is a nickel/brass alloy), “EPC” (Electroplated Copper), or “EPWM” (Electroplated White Metal , Triple Plate or A1 plate).


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
Unloved Antiques: 1847 Rogers Brothers Flatware
Unloved Antiques: Hummel Knockoffs
Unloved Antiques: National Geographic Magazines

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


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