You are here:

Silver and Flatware/Variations in Old Master by Towel


What is the difference between flatware with the various markings:  "Towel Sterling", "Towel Sterling R" and "Towel Sterling Pat" ?  I know that the "Old Master" pattern was introduced in 1942 and that the design has changed over the years (at least once, but it looks like at least twice from the differences), but I can't figure out which one is which.  I know that I don't want to complete my set with the most recent version (no character at all and doesn't match), but it looks like there are some differences between "estate" and the versions in the 60's 70's.  I'd like to make sure I'm procuring similar pieces to what I have started, but can't figure out how to tell when I'm looking at them.  I have been able to identify differences in the markings on the back of the forks & spoons (referenced above) and thought that might have something to do with it.  But then again, it may not. Any assistance you can offer in helping me to distinguish between the pieces of different periods would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you so much!


First, I must say that I am not an expert on the specific markings used by Towle but I can offer some thoughts.

In general, when you see a reference to a patent included in the marks, the piece may be among the older pieces in that pattern. Design patents last for 14 years and if the patent was still in effect, the manufacturer might place a patent reference on a piece. Once a patent expires, manufacturers tended to stop placing patent references on pieces.

I'm not certain about the "R". Many sterling manufacturers made different weights of pieces. Often, a piece marked as "R" was among the lighter weight pieces. This was common on teaspoons and to a lesser degree on forks. This would also indicate an older piece because manufacturers seem to have discontinued the practice of making pieces with different weights.

Here is a lengthy discussion of Towle marks: . There might be nuggets of info that could help.

Sorry I was unable to help more.

Best wishes,


Silver and Flatware

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.