“In today’s day and age, silver always has a base value,” says Sebastian Clarke, Senior Vice President of Doyle Auctioneers and Appraisers and colleague of aforementioned Nicholas on Antiques Roadshow. “There’s always going to be a designated maker’s mark to help determine the worth of the teapot. All silver had strict standards to adhere to for taxes and had to be clearly identified. English silver has hallmarks, and American silver has the maker right there on the vessel. All of these things, including quality and condition, factor into the value.”
Once you determine the silversmith and identify the hallmarks on the vessel, which will aid in revealing the purity of the silver and the age of the teapot, the next step is to assess the workmanship of the metal, or in layman’s terms, the skill with which the object was made. If the silver is crafted meticulously with intricate ornamentation, then it surely took an ample amount of time and effort to complete, which, in turn, adds to its value.
Lastly, and possibly one of the most important tips to keep in mind when looking for silver, is the current condition of the vessel. Regardless of the hallmarks or age, the condition of the teapot is what distinguishes it as usable and worth purchasing. Any dents or wear will cause silver to decrease significantly in value. “Look at silver marks to be clean and crisp. Earlier teapots have cartouche. And make sure the marks haven’t been scraped off or defaced,” Sebastian notes.