In this guide I will outline the numerous silver alloy marks and trade names that have been used throughout the world on antiques and collectibles.
Many of these marks can confuse the buyer, dealer or collector if they aren't knowledgeable in the different trade names and alloys.
Please note that these markings and tradenames are not for sterling silver. I have listed as many trade names and types of alloys as I can find.
- Afghan Silver: another name for nickel silver.
- African Silver: a mark that was found on some English silverplated items 1850-1900.
- Alaska Metal: a trade name for a line of silverplated flatware that resembled sterling that was sold by Sears & Roebuck & Co from 1908-on.
- Albu Silver: a British manufacturer of plated-brass novelties, who used this mark starting in the 1880s.
- Alpaca or Alpacca, ALP, Alpacca Prima NS: other names for nickel silver, used as a trade names for Berndorf AG of Austria.It is now a generic term used by Germany,and Scandinavian Countries as well as Mexico.
- Aluminum Silver: the trade name for a non-silver alloy, used by Daniel & Arter of Birmingham,England.
- Argentium Argentine Plate: nickel silver.
- Argentum: nickel silver.
- Austrian Silver: nickel silver.
- Bengal Silver: another trade name for a non-silver alloy, used by Daniel & Arter of Birmingham,England.
- Brazil Silver and Solid Brazil Silver: these are two names that are used for nickel silver, also called German silver, which is a silvery- white alloy of copper, nickel and zinc. This alloy contains no silver at all.
- Brazilian Silver: another trade name for a non-silver alloy used by Daniel & Arter of Birmingham,England.
- Bristol Silver: a trade name for a non-silver alloy that looks remarkably like silver, made by the Bristol Mfg. Co. of Attleboro,Massachusetts from 1895-1915.
- Coin Silver: This is a generic collector's/dealer's term for objects that have been made of melted coins.There was never a governmental standard or legally required mark for coin silver. Please note that it is virtually impossible to find "coin silver" marked on objects on hollowware, jewelry or flatware made during the 1850s-1860s. You will however find this mark on reproductions. There was a time during the 1920s-1930s when some jewelry and other small items were regularly marked "coin silver" that made by Southwestern Native Americans and Mexicans.Some other marks are "coin", "pure coin silver", "standard", and sometimes you may find the word "dollar". During the minting process, coins had been alloyed with a hardening agent added to help withstand circulation. The coins had a silver content of 900/1000. The sterling standard is 925/1000 and is softer. In the early 1800s, there was a lack of silver ore from the mines and in order to curb competition with American silversmiths, there was a refusal of foreign sources to sell bullion to America. The height of coin silver's popularity was the 1850s and 1860s. The decline of melting down silver coins started in the late 1860s, when newly discovered silver mines in Nevada were found and the US government started to require that foreign tariffs and duties were to be paid in coin or bullion. With this increase of silver, American silversmiths began to use the higher standard of sterling silver in making their wares.
- Continental Nickel Silver: nickel silver.
- Empire Art Silver: a trade name for silverplated base metals used by the E & J Bass Company of New York, used during 1890s-1930.
- England Silver: nickel silver.
- EPNS and EPBM: items marked with EPNS are made of Electro-Plated Nickel Silver. This was an inexpensive way to get the look of sterling silver, by electroplating a thin silver coating onto a nickel base. Sometimes the mark can be slightly confusing at first glance, as some companies tried to mimic English sterling hallmarks, look closer and you will most likely find your mark says EPNS. Items marked EPBM are made of Electro-Plated Britannia Metal which is electro-plated pewter or nickel silver.
- German Silver: this is by far the most confusing mark to some people. This is the most common mark you will find for the silvery-white alloy made of copper, nickel and zinc. This alloy contains no silver at all, however, I generally see some sellers on ebay attempting to call this real silver or sterling when it isn't. German silver can be polished and will gleam just like sterling silver, I use Weiman's Silver Polishing Cream.
- Gun Metal: alloy in the bronze family, generally used to make cannons and other industrial products. It is also loosely used to describe other dark-grey cast metals.
- Japanese Silver: another trade name for a non-silver alloy used by Daniel & Arter of Birmingham.England.
- Laxey Silver: another trade name for a non-silver alloy used by Daniel & Arter of Birmingham, England.
- Mexican Silver: this is a non-assayed mark, there is no guarantee of silver content. I believe that most items marked Mexican Silver are most likely nickel silver alloys.
- Nearsilver: a tradename for nickel silver, used by an unknown manufacturer.
- Nevada Silver: a trade name for a non-silver alloy used by Daniel & Arter of Birmingham, England.
- New Silver: nickel silver.
- Nickel Silver: an alloy that resembles sterling, it is made up of copper, zinc, and nickel.It has no silver content.
- Norwegian Silver: trade name for nickel silver used by WG&S.
- Oregon Silver: a mark found on some pieces of English silverplate around 1880s.
- Paktong,Pakfong,Baitung,Paitun.: obsolete names for a Chinese metal alloy related to nickel silver.
- Panama Silver: this mark is generally found on flatware that is made of nickel silver.
- Pearl Silver: this mark is generally found on flateware that is made of nickel silver.
- Potosi Silver: trade name for nickel silver used by WG&S.
- Siberian Silver: a mark that is found on some English silverplated copper pieces from the late 1800s.
- Silvanir and Silverine: two seperate trade names for non-silver alloyed items manufactured by the Nov-E-Line Mfg. Co of New York from 1890-1910.
- Silveroin: a trade name for a non-silver alloy used by the Bristol Mfg.Company of Attleboro,Massachusetts from 1895-1915.
- Solid Yukon Silver Warranted: a tradename on some silverplated items manufactured by the Raymond Mfg.Co of Muncie, Indiana, no production is noted after 1920.
- Sonora Silver: trade name for nickel silver by Walker & Hall, Sheffield,England.
- Sterline: a trade name for a non-silver alloy used by James E. Blake Co of Attleboro,MA around 1902.
- Sterlon: a trade name for silver alloys and plated wares used by Milton Schreiber of New York, first used in 1949.
- Tutenag: obsolete name for an Indian metal alloy related to nickel silver.It was also used to describe zinc commercially supplied from India.
- Tyrol Silver: nickel silver.
- Utah Metal: a mark found on flatware of non-silver alloy.
- Venetian Silver: trade name for nickel silver used by Deykin & Sons,Birmingham,England.
- Wolf Silver: a mark found on flatware of non-silver alloy.
- Yukon Silver: a mark found on flatware of non-silver alloy
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