The Complete Guide to Buying Antique Solid Silver Cutlery on eBay

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The Complete Guide to Buying Antique Solid Silver Cutlery on eBay

Whether you bring it out on special occasions or use it for everyday meals, antique solid silver cutlery  has the intricately crafted features and beautiful designs that add a touch of sophistication, history, and style to any table setting. 

Antique solid silver cutlery is a popular collector’s item. Cutlery, or flatware, can be sold as individual pieces or in a set, called a canteen.. When it comes to antique solid silver cutlery, there is a wide range of pieces, designs, and types of canteens available, each with their own history and appeal. It is important to research and consider several factors to help you make informed decisions before purchasing any type of antique solid silver cutlery.

History of Antique Solid Silver Cutlery

Dinner settings that included a knife,, fork and spoon originated in Renaissance Italy and were developed in mid-seventeenth century France. Since the early eighteenth century, silver cutlery and flatware were a standard used by the upper class.

Antique solid silver (or sterling silver)) is typically made of 92.5 per cent pure silver and 7.5 percent other metal, usually copper; to give it added strength. In 1327, England established hallmarks as a means of guaranteeing quality. At least four marks were included on each finished piece of British silver, including the Assay Office symbol, the date letter, the maker’s mark and the purity mark.

There are two types of quality marks. In 1697, Britannia silver was introduced by an act of parliament in England to dissuade the melting and clipping of sterling silver coins. Britannia silver consisted of 95.84 per cent pure silver and was represented by a seated figure of Britannia holding a spear and shield. Sterling silver was approved again in 1720, leaving Britannia silver as an optional standard in the UK. In England, sterling silver was represented by a Lion Passant.In 1842, silver plating was invented and was first used by Elkingtons of Birmingham. Today, most cutlery is made using stainless steel. However, many families possess or covet a set of solid silver cutlery to bring out for the holidays, special events, and important occasions. These sets often become family heirlooms and are passed from one generation to the next.

Discover Antique Solid Silver Cutlery

Silverware, or silver cutlery, is the general term used to refer to silver eating utensils, while hollowware, refers to hollow serving items such as dishes, jugs, and serving plates. Although now widely accepted as silver cutlery, traditionally a ‘cutler’ made knives while a silversmith fashioned silverware and hollowware. 

High-quality cutlery is well made, features ornate or intricate patterns and embellishments, and is rife with history and tradition. There are a variety of antique solid silver cutlery pieces, sets, designs, and makers that provide collectors with a wide range of choices in building their collections. Hallmarks continue to help collectors identify who, where, and when each antique solid silver cutlery piece was created.

Types of Antique Solid Silver

There are a variety of types of antique solid silver cutlery. Commonly used items may be more easily found, whilst the more rare serving items might be harder to find.



Silver Dinner Fork

Also referred to as a silver table fork and typically has 4 prongs, or tines.

Silver Dinner Knife

Also referred to as a silver table knife, dinner knives feature a steel blade for cutting and were typically made by ‘cutlers’ as opposed to silversmiths.

Silver Serving Spoon

Also referred to as a silver tablespoon as it was typically used for serving, although the term ‘tablespoon’ only came into use after the 17th Century.

Silver Soup Spoon

A spoon with a rounded bowl specifically to be used for a soup course. The modern soupspoon did not become the fashion until the late 19th and early 20th century.

Silver Teaspoon

The most readily available spoon due to their prominence, the teaspoon was a spoon used for stirring drinks, and measuring ingredients.

Silver Dessert Spoon

A spoon smaller than the serving spoon, and less round than a soupspoon, used for eating dessert.

Silver Dessert Fork

Also referred to as a silver entrée fork, silver side fork or pastry fork, it typically has 3 or 4 prongs, or tines.

Silver Salad Fork

A silver salad fork typically has 3 prongs, or tines.

Silver Dessert Knife

Also referred to as a silver entrée knife, silver luncheon knife or silver side knife typically fitted with a steel blade for cutting.

Silver Butter Knife

Smaller than a silver dessert knife, a silver butter knife commonly features a solid silver blade, as sharp cutting is not required.

Silver Serving Items

Common antique solid silver serving items include soup ladles, sauce ladles, basting spoons, condiment spoons, and sugar tongs. Other items include fish servers, asparagus tongs, sugar sifter spoons, jam spoons, and pickle forks.

Canteen Sets of Antique Solid Silver Cutlery

Sets of antique solid silver cutlery and flatware are referred to as a ‘canteen’. Canteens can include table and dessert forks, table and dessertspoons, and sometimes teaspoons. Knives may or may not be included. Canteens can feature different types and different quantities of cutlery and flatware. The following table provides an outline of the different types of canteens.



Full Canteen

Consists of twelve place settings.


Consists of six place settings.

Double canteen

Consists of twenty-four place settings.

Straight canteen

Consists of components of the same pattern, the same maker, and generally the same date.

Mixed canteen

Consists of components of the same pattern, but not necessarily by the same maker or same date.

Eclectic canteen

Consists of competes of any patter, any maker, and any date.

Typical Patterns of Antique Solid Silver Cutlery

There are a wide variety of patterns that can be found on antique solid silver cutlery and flatware. Patterns often reflected the time in when they were produced. Typically, styles can be broken down into the following three groups:

1. Plain Style

Plain styles of antique solid silver cutlery and flatware feature little or no embellishment and simple designs. Examples of plain-styles include Old English, Fiddle and Hanoverian.

2. Plain to Mid-decorative patterns

These patterns feature more decorative edges and engraving than plain style cutlery, yet are less ornate the decorative pieces. Examples include Fiddle and Thread, Bead and Old English Thread patterns

3. Decorative patterns

These patterns are the most intricate and ornate, and include styles such as King’s, Queen's and Thread and Shell.

Factors to Consider When Buying Antique Solid Silver Cutlery

The following list outlines factors to consider when purchasing antique solid silver cutlery and flatware:

  • Style - The buyer should look for cutlery and flatware that fits their particular taste.
  • Hallmarks - The hallmarks included on antique solid silver cutlery and flatware that indicate its authenticity. Forged hallmarks are often blurry as opposed to originals, which use a steel die that punches out a mark.
  • Budget - A budget should always be in mind. There are a wide range of prices depending on style and rarity.

How to Care for and Store Antique Solid Silver Cutlery

The following list outlines care and storage methods for antique solid silver cutlery and flatware:

  1. Wash antique solid silver cutlery by hand in warm, soapy water.
  2. Dry antique solid silver cutlery and flatware by hand.
  3. Store antique solid silver cutlery and flatware in a tarnish proof cutlery roll, or in its canteen box, and place inside an airtight container to prevent tarnishing.

If cutlery becomes tarnished, use one of the following methods for cleaning:

  • Polishing powder or paste made specifically for silver to prevent scratching.
  • Sliver dips are a quick, less time consuming method to clean silver. Silver dips are preferable for use with decorative antique solid silver cutlery as it is able to clean smaller nooks and crannies. Do not use dip solutions to remove very heavy tarnish as it may produce a matt finish.
  • Electrolytic kits can be purchased that immerse cutlery in a hot solution of washing soda.

Popular Antique Solid Silver Cutlery Canteen Makers

The following table provides a list of a few of the popular manufacturers of antique solid silver cutlery canteens:



Marks Used

Alexander Clarke Manufacturing Company Ltd


H.A or HA

Carrington and Co


J.B.C, C&Co

Charles Boyton and Sons


CB, C.B, CB/&/S

Chawner and Co



C J Vander Ltd.

21st century


Cooper Bros.

1850 to 1964


Elkington and Co


EM&Co, FE, E&Co, E&CoLd

Francis Higgins


FH, FH&S/Ltd

George Maudsley Jackson



Goldsmiths and Silversmiths Company Ltd.


WG/JL, G&Sco/Ld

Harrison Brothers and Howson



Hawksworth, Eyre and Company



Henry Wilkinson and Company



Holland, Aldwinckle and Slater



James Dixon and Sons



James Deakin and Sons Ltd.



John Nowill and Sons



John Round and Son Ltd.


JR/ER, J.R&SnLd, JR (in oval punch)

Joseph Rodgers and Sons Ltd.



Josiah Williams and Company



Mappin and Webb



Martin, Hall and Company Ltd.


J.R/E.H, RM/EH, MH/&/CoLd,

Robert and Belk


R&B, SR/CB, C.B, C.B/E.P

Thomas Bradbury and Sons Ltd.






Wakely and Wheeler



Walker and Hall

Mid 1800s


William Hutton and Sons Ltd.


EH, W/SsHLd/&, WH & S

Finding Antique Solid Silver Cutlery on eBay

Once you determine the type of antique solid silver cutlery you want to purchase, visit the Antiques portal on eBay, click on sub-category ‘Silver’ then sub-category ‘Solid Silver’ and finally sub-category ‘Cutlery.’ Begin searching for item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching for Antique Solid Silver Cutlery on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique solid silver cutlery and flatware. For example, to find a Solid Silver, Fiddle Pattern Richard Britton Caddy Spoon, type ‘Silver Fiddle Pattern Caddy Spoon’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tipsppage for more advice on searching for antique solid silver cutlery and flatware with keywords. If you can’t find the exact antique solid silver cutlery and flatware you want, try shopping eBay Stores..


Antique solid silver cutlery and flatware comes in different styles, patterns, and sets. It is important to consider different factors including pattern preference, intended usage and costs. Researching and investigating hallmark symbols is important to ensure antique solid silver cutlery and flatware is authentic. Once you have collected this information, you can buy antique solid silver cutlery and flatware safely and securely on eBay..

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