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Antiques Considered - May 14, 2014

This pair of candelabra was an estate sale purchase many years ago. One of them was broken with the stem having come apart. The owner has had it repaired professionally, and the repair is hardly noticeable. At present he is thinking of having the pair re-plated, and asks if it is correct to re-silver. He has been unable to find any hallmark on either piece.

We have here a fine pair of English Sheffield candelabra, dating from the mid-nineteenth century. From the photograph the repair is not apparent, and the overall design of the stems and arms is excellent.

Sheffield is a form of silver plate applied to a copper base. If polished the silver would shine, but the copper base areas that have worn through would as well. Silver-plating would make a nice finish, but it would be eliminating all vestiges of the original silver finish.

In a case such as this one, I recommend going with what will satisfy the owner in displaying the pieces at home. If the finish is annoying in its current condition, then proceed to re-silver. If that is the course chosen, remember that the new finish ultimately also will tarnish and be subject to rubbing off with regular polishing.

From a cost perspective, re-plating will be expensive, and will not add as much to the value as what the cost of the work will be. Personally, I would polish, and enjoy the mixed silver and copper appearance, knowing that each time that I polish them more of the copper base will show.

As is the pair is worth $250; if a hallmark could be found the value could increase exponentially.
Henry Lane Hull and his wife Lisa operate Commonwealth Antiques and Appraisals, Inc. at 5150 Jessie duPont Hwy. in Wicomico Church, VA.  Write to him at P. O. Box 35, Wicomico Church, VA 22579 or e-mail questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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