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Antiques Considered - August 31, 2011

These three pieces of sterling silver have been in the possession of a Northern Neck family for many generations. The owner writes that the penknife came from a friend to her grandmother, but she does not know the age or origin of the comb and cigarette case. Each is hallmarked “STERLING”, and the steel blades of the knife are rusted and

 

corroded. In opening the case, she found two cigarette wrappers.

From the pictures the knife appears to be scratched and dented, and its length indicates that it was for a gentleman, rather than a lady. It dates from the early 20th century. I recommend polishing all of these pieces, and working on the rust and corrosion of the knife blades by sticking them in the ground. Given the overall condition, I see no harm in trying to arrest, if not reverse, the progress of the deterioration. As is the knife is worth $40.

The hair comb is a nice example from the same period. It is an elegant piece in very good condition. It too should receive a good polish, and could be worn, assuming the owner has hair sufficiently long to hold it. It is worth $100.

 The cigarette case is a fine example of the Aesthetic Movement in American silver in the late 19th century. The hand-etching of the flowers is quite good, and the shape indicates that it was for a lady’s smaller cigarettes. The size of the piece, and the finding of the cigarette wrappers, precludes the possibility that it was for visiting cards.

It too needs polish, in the process of which the ancient cigarette wrappers should be removed carefully, and returned after the work is complete. They are remarkable survivals over so many decades, and add to the aura of the piece, as does the presence of the original chain. It is worth $150.

Happy antiquing!

Lisa and Henry Hull operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie DuPont Hwy., 22570 (P. O. Box 35). Wicomico Church, Va. 22570. Write to them or email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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