Sometimes identifying the manufacturer of a silverplate or sterling item can be a daunting proposition if the maker's name is not stamped into the piece. In that case, you must rely on the hallmarks which are stamped into the piece. First of all, if the piece is not marked "sterling", it probably is silverplate or coin silver. That being said, there are some wonderful sites out there in cyberspace that will help you determine who made your silver. One of the best and most thorough is 925-1000.com. This site lists silver hallmarks divided into categories by country. In the American marks category, marks are listed alphabetically with a section for unlettered or difficult marks. Clear photos make the quest easier for you. The sections for foreign marks list marks for individual European countries as well as British and Mexican marks. In addition, the site has links to other online resources and a section for unidentified marks where the reader can submit problem marks or help identify unknown marks for other users.
If you do not have success with the previous site, another useful site that helps identify American sterling and silver is silvercollecting.com. Although you will not find foreign marks listed here, American hallmarks are listed alphabetically with an explanation of the company and approximate date of manufacture.
Here is an example of an older Gorham hallmark:
So, now that you have identified the manufacturer of your sterling, silverplate, or coin silver, the next step is to read my guide on identifying silver patterns!!! Good luck, and watch my auctions for quality antique sterling, silverplate, and coin silver!!