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Silver and Flatware/R Harris & Co


I have a nice heavy ladle marked -  S PAT '04 R. HARRIS & CO..  I can find very little about R Harris & Co..  I have tested it with a silver  acid and it tests silver.   Does the S signify that.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I would like to sell but need all facts before I do. How do you tell what grade silver- 900, 925, 950, etc...? Thank you

Hi, Joe.

I know very little about this company. It is listed in a reference book I have as having been established around 1875 in Washington, D.C. There was a catalog dated in 1898. Based on the patent date on your piece, it must have been still in business in 1904.

Since about 1870, virtually every manufacturer of sterling pieces in America marked the pieces with the word, "Sterling". It would not make sense for them not to do that since that had become an industry standard. I do not now what the "S" on your piece means.

Before 1870, coin silver was popular but exact silver content often varied between 80% and 90%. Other silver alloys are not common from American manufacturers.

There are some sterling pieces listed here: . However, we can't tell how they were marked on the back.

There are tests to help identify metallic content. An acid test is one. However, silver plate will test as silver if you don't break through the silver coating and test what's underneath. There is also a specific gravity test. I don't feel qualified performing either test since I usually deal with well-marked pieces.

An old line jeweler in your area might help with identification of content.

Sorry I could not help more.

Best wishes,


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Jim Stringer


I answer questions about sterling flatware and other sterling pieces........... I answer value questions at I also author a blog at and write articles about silver at ........... Thanks to nominations from questioners, I'm listed in the Top 50 Experts for 2014 and 2015.......... NOTE: Please do not give me a verbal description of a pattern and ask me to identify it. Attach a picture if you need such help..........


Buyer and seller of sterling pieces for over ten years. Author of the blog, Sterling silver writer for

Publications;; "Selling_Your_Silver: A Guide to Finding a Buyer and Getting a Good Price (

BS, University of Alabama; MS, University of Maryland

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