Several years ago a friend needed sugar tongs so I gave her a vintage silverplate set I'd gotten at a tearoom (now closed) which had stocked lots of old ones. I still had a couple of new pair, and an old sterling silver pair, but I always knew I'd like to find some old silverplate ones again one day. I wasn't in any hurry, though, so I was quite pleased when I happened upon this pair for $6.95 at an antique mall the other day. Ladies at my tea parties always seem to enjoy using the sugar tongs, perhaps because this is an accoutrement we don't tend to use in everyday life.
Now first of all, I must say right up front I am *horrible* at photographing silver items, so bear with me today! But I wanted to show what I originally believed to be an antique finish on this design. I polished and polished—and I happen to love polishing silver—but still had blackness around the design. I thought perhaps it's supposed to be this way, but then I saw this same pair online (for $48), all nice and sparkly with no black. Back to the drawing board! (Or the polishing board, as it were.)
The other fun thing about finding old silver is that it sets me on a mystery hunt to find out about the maker. I'm always pleased to be able to see the hallmarks on silver, and this time I was searching for E & I B until I cleaned the tongs and found the letters are actually E & J B. My hopefully helpful hint: Sometimes I have trouble seeing the hallmarks even with my reading glasses and a magnifying glass, but if I take a photo and enlarge it on my computer, that always works! (And the spoon part isn't mildewed, by the way. That green color is a reflection of trees or grass since I was outdoors!) A little online surfing revealed the letters stand for the E & J Bass company in New York, which made sterling and silverplate pieces from 1890-1930. There are so many websites devoted to silver hallmarks these days that if you don't know whether something is American or British, or whether it's silverplate or sterling, by all means start typing what you *do* know about the piece into a search engine and you'll soon have plenty of helpful information!