Fitting conveniently in a trouser pocket, the flask has been a popular choice for those looking to enjoy a drink away from home. With a long history of being given as gifts, and often holding sentimental importance, these solid silver pieces can be passed down over generations. They often hold value as antiques that are sought after by enthusiasts and collectors. Before a prospective buyer begins to browse the selection of antique solid silver flasks on eBay, there are a few simple guidelines that can assist with the ability to make an informed decision. Buyers can make the purchasing process easier and find a product that suites their particular styles and tastes once they consider factors such as the features of an antique solid silver flask that makes them unique, what actually constitutes solid silver, the variety of antique flasks on the market, and what it is that gives them antique value.
History of Antique Solid Silver Flasks
As a storage vessel, flasks have had several general uses over the course of history. From gunpowder to perfume, they have kept substances on stand-by for those times of need that may arise unexpectedly. However, most commonly it is the storing of spirits that solid silver flasks are generally known for. The storing of alcohol is an ancient endeavour, going as far back as the Middle Ages when fruit was gutted in order to store and drink liquor from its skin. During the eighteenth century, smuggling gin onto warships was believed to have occurred with the help of pig bladders.
The solid silver flask presented itself as an answer – not for deception – but rather for comfort, proximity and style. It soared in popularity from the 1700s onward, giving the upper class a vessel in which to keep such spirits as brandy and scotch. These pieces were often fashioned from solid silver and were then decorated and engraved as a mark of status and wealth. Their popularity continued to increase worldwide, and even the Prohibition era of 1920s America failed to decrease the demand. Many of these pieces are now collectors’ items and can be found on the antique market today.
Discover Antique Solid Silver Flasks
Flasks can be a unique and attractive accessory, and they are also a common gift that is presented on those important occasions. Before purchasing an antique solid silver flask; however, it is important for buyers to first understand what actually defines an antique and what constitutes the definition of solid silver.
Antique items are generally regarded as those that are at least 100 years old and older, although some professionals deem 1930 as the measuring year in deeming an item antique. Vintage items are generally thought to be those between 50 to 100 years in age. It is important for buyers to note that a flask that is older does not necessarily mean it is an antique.
Buyers should also be aware that solid silver, also known as sterling silver, is actually comprised of at least 92.5 percent silver mixed with another alloy, often copper. Pure silver is too soft for silversmiths to work with, and the second compound that gives solid silver its ability to be manipulated. Sterling silver items are often engraved with the number 925 to indicate purity, while much older sterling silver pieces will bear a hallmark to indicate this standard of material content has been met. It is important to recognize this to ensure an antique solid silver flask is not mistaken for one that has been silver-plated or is made from stainless steel.
Materials and Parts Used in Antique Solid Silver Flasks
Flasks are simple items, which is part of their attractive quality. Below are listed the components and materials found in antique solid silver flasks.
The section of the vessel that holds liquid.
Placed in the top of the body for an airtight seal.
Made from 92.5 percent pure silver and 7.5 percent alloyed metal.
Made from 95.8 percent pure silver and 4.2 percent alloyed metal. Britannia silver is less common, but more valuable than sterling silver.
Valuable thin coating of 99.9 percent pure silver on the outside of the flask.
Flasks will often be made from a combination of silver and leather.
Types of Antique Solid Silver Flasks
While the general design and purpose of the flask is unchanging, there are two varieties that can be noted on the antique market. Both were manufactured for men and women, though the difference was largely the size of the vessel.
- Hip flask – Traditional thin, slightly curved flask that is intended to fit comfortably against the leg of the user.
- Hunting Flask – Provides a similar function to the hip flask, but is rounder and slightly conical in shape. It was often held in a leather pouch on the side of a belt.
Factors to Consider When Buying Antique Solid Silver Flasks
Before making a final decision, a prospective buyer may consider a few further factors when choosing a flask.
- Pewter – Many old flasks contained lead in the form of pewter, which can potentially be hazardous. It is always advisable to know exactly what a drinking vessel is made from.
- Funnel – Flasks are hard to refill with liquid without the use of a separate funnel.
- Size – Though the function remains the same, flasks can vary between thirty and seven hundred millilitres in volume.
- Silver Plate – When looking for solid silver it is important not to confuse it for silver plate. This is a thin coating of solid silver on the outside of a less valuable metal.
Typical Features of Antique Solid Silver Flasks
While many solid silver flasks are smooth and minimal, they can also be found to have repoussé, which provides the exterior of the flask with an outward texture by having it delicately hammered from behind. These designs can be simple floral patterns, or elaborate scenarios depicted in the silver.
As flasks are made to be portable and taken about, a captive top ensures that the cap is not lost. It is attached to the body of the flask or the neck and is able to hang while the flask is in use.
Antique solid silver flasks are commonly engraved. Some may be monogrammed with the initials of a previous owner, while others may even have a personal message inscribed. The quality of the silver and the mark of the manufacturer are also often found engraved.
Though the design of a flask is intended to allow it to be carried in a pocket, they can also be found to have leather pouches that sit on the wearer’s belt. This is most common with hunting flasks and was used when venturing through the outdoors.
The common feature of an antique flask is the thin, slightly curved body that allows it to comfortably be placed inside a pocket.
How to Care for Antique Solid Silver Flasks
In order to keep an antique flask looking its best for years to come, there are some simple maintenance steps that an owner may wish to follow.
- It is best to empty a flask every few days and clean it with baking soda in order to remove odours and leftover alcohol.
- If there is rust inside the flask, white vinegar can be used to remove it. Simply pour in the vinegar and leave for a few hours. Once this has finished, ensure to wash the vinegar out using baking soda.
- Use swabs to remove dirt from any textured silver that may cause build-up and corrosion.
- As with any solid silver, attempt to keep it in a dry, airtight container when it is not in use. This helps to limit tarnishing and corrosion of the silver.
Antique Solid Silver Flask Manufacturers
The following list outlines a few popular antique solid silver flask makers:
- William Leuchars
- Sampson Mordan
- Atkin Brothers
- Brook and Son
- Thomas Ingleton
- William Neale and Sons
- James Dixon and Sons
Accessories and Add-ons for Antique Solid Silver Flasks
Other items to consider when buying antique solid silver flasks include:
- Leather Pouch
- Silver Polish
- Polishing Cloth
Finding Antique Solid Silver Flasks on eBay
Once you determine the type of antique solid silver flask you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on Solid Silver and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.
Searching forAntique Solid Silver Flaskson eBay
Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique solid silver flasks. For example, to find an engraved hunting flask, type ‘Engraved Hunting Flask’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tipspage for more advice on searching for antique solid silver flasks with keywords. If you can’t find the exact flask you want, try shopping eBay Stores.
A solid silver flask is both a useful and stylish accessory. Their antique value only increases the demand from collectors and enthusiasts, and by considering some of the above-mentioned guidelines, those wishing to purchase one can do so with confidence. Factors such as the types of flasks on the antique market, the different styles and materials, what it is that defines them as an antique, and the exact specifications of solid silver all impact a purchasing decision. Once you have collected this information, you can buy an antique solid silver flask safely and securely on eBay.