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Silver and Flatware/Follow up question


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QUESTION: Dear Mr. Stringer,

I bought this silver cocktail shaker this weekend at a church flea market. I thought it was lovely in style, but didn't notice until I looked it at home that the handle had been broken and  soldered back on. It's marked Made in Bogota on the bottom with 900 inside a shield or crown.

It was difficult taking pics because of the constant reflection of the light but it has a beautiful luster and shine from the bottom to the top. The gray variations in the photos are shadows and light reflections as the surface area luster is the same on the entire piece. Dimensions: 8 1/2" H x 5 1/2" W (at the widest part). It holds approximately 40 oz.

I would like to know if it is vintage or  antique--how long ago it was made?  Your assessment on value, and  how the repair factors into value? Is there any point or reason to have it restored?   I am sending 2 more photos in a follow up question subject line: Silver Cocktail Shaker Part 2- 2 photos.

Thanks very much, in advance, for any information you can provide.


ANSWER: Hello.

In many countries, the mark, "900", would indicate that an item is made of 90% silver. I cannot say if that is true in the case of your piece since you'll often find "creative" marking on pieces from South America. There are many fine pieces from South America but you cannot always depend upon the marks.

Let's assume the 90% is correct. The next step would be to calculate the scrap value using the current world spot price for silver. Here's an article that will help: . When you are done, you will have the scrap value of a sterling piece which assumes 92.5% silver. So, you'll need to multiply your final result by 0..973 because of the slightly reduced silver content.

At this point, you know what the bottom line assessment is. Pieces like this are often worth more than scrap value but I can't tell you how much more. You might look for similar pieces that have actually sold on eBay recently. Here's an example: This set includes four pieces so it would have much greater value but at least you can make some assumptions. The tea set that sold weighed 50 Troy ounces or around 1550 grams.

I do not know when your piece might have been made specifically but I'll guess between 1890 and 1950. That's purely a guess.

Sorry I could not help more.

Best wishes,


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much for your comprehensive and speedy response to my inquiry!

I appreciated learning something new in your answer regarding ""creative" marking on pieces from South America."  I didn't test it because I assumed that the marking "made it so." I just tested it with Puritest and the color turned red on the stone. However, when I used a Q-tip to check the color of red, it changed colors in some sections on the Q-tip. I found a small spot inside the shaker lid and tested that (I know, not a good idea) and it turned red. When I checked that area with a Q-tip the color stayed uniform darkish red. Could you comment on the different results in the testing methods?

I checked the Ebay link to check out the Tea Set.  I noticed that it has "coin silver" listed below for Composition: - Can you explain why is it also identified as coin silver, rather than just .900 silver?

And finally, I checked here: to find out the scrap value. The weight is 492.5 grams and at .900, it came to $271.20. I'm assuming selling the item for any more than $271 would be a no no? In any case, finding the soldered handle has made a difference in its appeal to me.:=(

Again, thanks so much for all your help.


Coin silver is not a precise term in the industry. Many assume it defines a silver content in the range of 80% to 90%.

I can't comment on the test you performed. Fortunately, the vast majority of the pieces I deal with are marked properly and I don't have much experience with such testing.

In my opinion, I would use $271 as a floor price. Sell for more if you can based upon the design and condition of the piece. By the way, it's highly likely that the "900" does represent 90%. I just wanted to mention that accuracy of marks cannot be assumed to be 100%. For example, a well-known American manufacturer had model numbers in the 900's stamped on pieces. I always wondered if that was meant to mislead.

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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