From the Worthologists’ Files: A Sterling Silver Ladle

One of the advantages of being an appraiser is the sheer volume of incredible things one comes across on a weekly basis. Not all are hugely valuable, antique, rare or even all that sought after. Many times their value is only sentimental, but they often come with priceless provenances. Our Worthologist file cabinet is a treasure chest of such items– appraisal requests from our clients ranging from stuffed aardvarks to folk art zithers, all of which I’ll cover here in this column.

A George C. Shreve & Co. sterling silver ladle.

Our client wrote: 
“We have no idea where this ladle was purchased, it is a piece of our mother’s large silver collection. 
It has no wear showing and is in very nice condition. The only markings are on the back of the handle where it is stamped  ‘STERLING’ about 1-1/2″ from the bottom of the ladle. About 1/2″ above the sterling stamp it is marked “Geo.C.Shreve & Co.” It is 14″ long, the scoop measures 4-1/2″ by 2-3/4″ and the floral handle is 7″ long, 1-1/4″ wide and about 1/16″ thick. We are parting out her collection to family equally in terms of value, so any help you could give providing a value for this piece would be greatly appreciated.”

My valuation and conclusions: 
Your ladle is a very nice piece. Geo.C. Shreve & Co. was incorporated in 1894, but Shreve & Co. traces its roots all the way back to a jewelry store in San Francisco in 1852. No silver work was produced until circa 1882  when they began producing sterling hollow-ware. They began the production of flatware in 1904. By the end of the 19th century, George C.Shreve and Company was a well-respected producer, also retailing high-end products of other silver companies, Gorham’s being the most notable. Your particular piece is late Victorian, dating from the last quarter of the 19th Century.  In the current market, comparable ladles of this size by Shreve & Co. have a replacement value in the $200.00- $295.00 range. The one shown below, listed on our Worthopedia, sold for $295.00.

Shreve & Co. circa 1895 punch ladle sold for $295 in 2008.

Another Shreve & Co. ladle shown below sold for $225.

This Shreve and Co. ladle sold for $225 in 2006.

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement. He can be reached through his website

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