- Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 10:34
- Published on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 10:33
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A couple from the Washington area, who now live in the Northern Neck, purchased this pair of small dishes at an estate sale for $50. They have been unsuccessful in getting the broken one repaired, and question whether they paid too much, given the condition of the one. They also wish to know the purpose of the
dishes. They are silver plate with an illegible hallmark, and stand three inches high.
The illegible hallmark makes attribution nearly impossible, but they appear to be English from the late nineteenth century. The dolphin motif coupled with the shell bowl is a typical English new-classical theme that arose in the late Georgian period, and continues into the present. These two are of exquisite proportions, and appear to have a fine silver finish.
Good English plate is ever popular, with a large array of books available on the subject, as well as collector clubs, the members of which usually are happy to help in identifying pieces. I suggest looking online to see if one is within acceptable driving time, and if so, going to a meeting to show the pieces and ask if any members can identify the hallmark. You might find that the dishes are silver, and not silver plate.
The $50 purchase price was fair, as the good one is well worth that amount. If the other can be restored at a reasonable cost, I suggest doing so, as the pair would be worth significantly more.
As to purpose, these dishes most likely were intended for use at the table for after-dinner candies. They also could have been master salts, but standing salt would have damaged the finish with severe corrosion, thus they probably were not meant for that purpose.