J.H.Tee Antique Silver
7963 Granville Street
Canada, V6P 4Z3
Fine Antique Silver
Birks Sterling Flatware
English Silver Flatware
Estate and Antique Hollowware
Welcome to JH Tee Antiques news page. We will be using this page to keep our customers up to date on our latest promotions, dates of upcoming antique fairs and our annual sale. We will also be posting articles and information about antique silver, links to other interesting sites and other useful information.
RHV Tee & Son - Fine English and Continental Antique Furniture.
Set Your Table - Links page for China and Silverware pattern matchers.
Silver Magazine - Online home of Silver magazine.
Ring Boxes Galore - Ring Box collector's site.
XE.com - Universal Currency Converter.
The Goldsmiths Company - The London Assay Office website.
Silver Tea Tongs - Site dedicated to the study of silver sugar nips.925-100 - The go to site for identifying silver hallmarks from just about everywhere.
We will be exhibiting in the following shows:
Birks Sterling Place Pieces:
Matching pieces to your Birks sterling flatware can be a bit of a challenge if you don't know what to ask for. Birks has made a wide range of pieces and patterns over the years, many of which are discontinued. Birks started making sterling flatware in the 1890s and some of their patterns have been in production for generations. Over the years there have been many variations in shapes and sizes. The following is a brief explanation of the various place pieces that Birks has made over the years.
From left to right:
Oval Bowl Spoons
From left to right:
Round Bowl Spoons
From left to right:
From left to right:
[Special note for Old English pattern only: Dinner and Luncheon Forks are available with the bottom tip facing up (shown left) or facing down ("reversed"). Click here to find out why.]
Birks Sterling Serving Pieces:
Birks made a wide variety of serving pieces for every pattern, many of which are discontinued. The size and configuration of the servers changed throughout the years. Some of the most common serving pieces are shown below.
Current Serving Pieces
From left to right:
Current Serving Pieces
From left to right:
Discontinued Serving Pieces
From left to right: Tomato Server (6 7/8"), Roast Beef Fork (8 5/8"), Cheese Scoop (5 7/8"), Berry spoon (flat handle, 7 3/4"), Pie Knife (flat handle, 8"). Sizes vary by pattern and by age.
Silver plate is a base metal such as copper or nickel that is coated with a thin layer of pure silver using electrolytic deposition.
Virtually all sterling silver, and other solid silver alloys are stamped with markings that indicate the fineness of the alloy. Pieces made in North America should be stamped with the word sterling, pieces made in Europe are often marked with a series of symbols, known as hallmarks, that indicate the fineness of their alloy and pieces from other parts of the world are often stamped with numbers such as 900 or 925 indicating the fineness. If there are no marks indicating solid silver it can be very difficult to tell. Weight is not a good indicator. Consult an expert if you are unsure.
The troy ounce is the traditional unit of measure used to gauge the weight of precious metals. It is equivalent to 31.1g and is approximately 10% heavier than a "regular" or avoirdupois ounce.
Please see our cleaning tips page for details.
For long term storage you should make sure your silver is clean and dry. Then pack it in clean tissue or cloth and put it inside a sealed plastic bag.
Yes we do. We are always in the market for estate and antique silver. We do need to examine things first hand before we can make an offer.
All of the pieces offered on our site are in excellent condition. They have been gently used and well cared for. If there are any issues with condition, however minor, they will be noted in the description. Our estate Birks flatware is refurbished where necessary and is difficult to distinguish from new.
Shipping methods vary with size, value and destination. We are always happy to provide a quote.
Many people are attracted to the beauty and quality of antique English silver flatware but finding a complete matching service can be difficult. In the 18th and early 19th century, original flatware designs were not registered (in fact many of them were simply copied from French patterns). Consequently there were hundreds of silversmiths all making the same patterns. It was not unusual for a set to be acquired over a period of years from one or more silversmiths. Over the generations these sets were often broken up into smaller sets and/ or pieces were added or replaced.
Today it is quite rare to find a complete service of antique flatware where every piece was made by the same silversmith in the same year. A straight set will have identical hallmarks on every piece. The vast majority of English silver flatware services are assembled mixed sets, in which the pattern is the same but the pieces have been made by different manufacturers at different times.
When acquiring an assembled service it is desirable to find pieces which are as similar as possible in terms of size, weight and appearance and also in terms of age, origin and maker.
The degree of weight that one attributes to any of these factors is a matter of preference.
A good assembled service should look like it belongs together when you lay it on the table and it should have many pieces with similar or matching hallmarks.
There are relatively few patterns that are commonly found and most of them are derivations of only three basic shapes.
Old English pattern was designed in the 1760s and has remained popular ever since. There are many variations of this pattern, some of which are fairly common such as Old English Thread, Bead, and Bright Cut.
Copied from an earlier French pattern, Fiddle pattern arrived in England shortly after 1800 and was the most common pattern made in the 19th century. It inspired several popular offshoots such as Fiddle Thread, Fiddle Thread and Shell and Fiddle Shell.
Introduced in the early 19th century (based on an 18th century French design), this shape started out as the Hourglass pattern and then quickly developed into the much more popular Kings pattern, Queens pattern and others such as Honeysuckle and Kings Husk.
There are many other less common patterns that were made. See Silver Flatware: English Irish and Scottish 1660-1980 by Ian Pickford for more information.
After 1770 it was traditional to lay the fork face down on the table and the spoon face up. As a result, the shape of the handles of spoons and forks are slightly different.
When laid face up on the table (the modern way), the bottom end of the spoon handle turns down toward the table and the bottom end of the fork handle turns up and away from the table.
The family crest is normally engraved on the front of the spoon and on the back of the fork. By the later half of the 19th century forks were being laid face up but the shape of the handle remained the same until the 20th century.
Table Forks (known as dinner forks in North America) are typically about 8 in length and 2.5- 3 troy ounces in weight. (That is about ½ longer and 40-50% heavier than a modern dinner fork) They are used for the main course. Dessert Forks are approximately 7 (the same size as a North American luncheon or place fork) and are commonly used for desserts, salads, or starters.
Tablespoons are approximately 8.5 in length; they were originally used for soups and stews but today they are commonly used for serving. Dessert Spoons have an oval bowl and are typically 7, intended for desserts but they get used for just about everything.
vary from 5 to 6 and as the name suggests they are for tea although they are also suitable for delicate desserts.
In the 18th and 19th century knives were made by a cutler rather than a silversmith and were purchased independently from the rest of the set. They typically had bone, ivory or thin gauge silver handles with carbon steel blades. They really werent very durable and are rarely found in good condition if at all. Standard practice today is to use modern knives with silver handles and stainless steel blades to replace antique knives. A complete service should have a Table (Dinner) Knife and a Dessert Knife.
Unlike American flatware sets antique British sets came with a relatively small variety of serving utensils. The most common are the soup ladle, gravy ladle, stuffing or basting spoon (approximately 12), butter knife, salt spoon and fish slice.
In this business, one frequently hears the term Sheffield Plate used to describe a wide variety of pieces from different places and times. The term is often used as if it were a brand name that some how indicated quality and age. In fact, the name Old Sheffield Plate can only properly be attributed to one particular kind of silver plate. Old Sheffield Plate, or OSP for short, is the name given to silver plate made from a fusion process in the late 18th and early 19th century, before the invention of electroplating. A brief history of silver plating may be of some help.
For as long as there has been a demand for silver, there has been a demand for a more affordable substitute. This demand increased sharply with the rise of the merchant class in the eighteenth century and in the 1740's a cutler named Thomas Boulsover invented the first reliable and economic method of silver plating. A brick of copper and a brick of sterling silver were fused together and then rolled out into a sheet. This sheet (one side sliver and one side copper) was then used to construct the desired item using the same techniques that were used with sterling silver. The vast majority of this fusion plate was made in Sheffield and hence the name Old Sheffield Plate.
In 1840, Elkington & Co. patented a new method of silver plating known as electro-plating. In this method, an object is constructed entirely out of a base metal then the piece is coated with pure silver using electrolytic deposition. The base metal is often copper or a copper-nickel alloy with the misleading name nickel silver. (from this we get the acronym EPNS for Electroplated Nickel Silver) Electroplating proved to be faster and cheaper than the fusion technique, which quickly became obsolete.
Fusion plate is distinctly different from electroplate in its construction but the difference in appearance can be subtle. Good old electroplate is often confused with Old Sheffield Plate. A few things to look out for are: Colour, the silver on OSP is sterling and it should have a slightly bluish patina; Marks, OSP was usually not marked at all but occasionally you will find a makers mark. If it has the word Sheffield stamped on it anywhere it almost certainly isn't OSP (refer to Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks for a few of the makers marks); Style, OSP was made as a substitute for sterling and the shapes and styles were almost identical to the sterling pieces of the same period. So if the style of the piece says 1860, it's not Old Sheffield Plate; Construction, there are a variety of construction techniques unique to OSP which one can use to identify a piece. These are too numerous to mention here but they are the true test for identification.
Over the years, OSP has become scarce and as one might expect, quite collectible. But beware, due to its age a considerable amount of it has been tampered with. Like everything else, OSP wears out and when it does, people quite innocently have it re-plated. Re-electroplated, that is. This is a material alteration to the piece and like any other antique it affects the value. And don't think that just because your piece is showing copper that it hasn't been re-plated, people have been re-plating OSP since the mid 1870's.
If you would like to see some examples of OSP or to learn more about it, just come into the shop and ask us, and remember: Sheffield Plate is not necessarily from Sheffield, and plate from Sheffield is not necessarily Old Sheffield Plate.
For more reading see History of Old Sheffield Plate, Fredrick Bradbury,and Antique Sheffield Plate, G. Bernard Hughes.