Monday, September 19, 2011

American Coin Silver

Most silver articles made in the United States before around 1860, when the sterling silver standard was accepted, are referred to as "coin."

Coin silver has a slightly higher silver content than sterling silver. Pure silver is too soft for normal use and has to be alloyed, usually with copper and other trace elements. Sterling is 925 parts silver per 1000 parts, and American coin silver has a lower percentage: from 1792 to 1837, it was .892; thereafter, .900. Other countries may use the words “coin silver” to mean the purity used in their silver coins, which may be different from US coins.

In America’s colonial days, coin silver was literally made from melted-down coins. Between about 1830 and 1860 silver was often marked “Coin,” “Pure Coin” or “Dollar” to show that the piece was the same quality as coins. (Source: Kovels On Antiques and Collectibles).

Image 1 is of a coin silver ladle, with monogrammed fiddle-back handle by Anthony Rasch, circa 1855-1963, marked "A. Rasch" (image courtesy of

Image 2 is of a coin silver coffee pot by Eoff & Shepard of New York City, circa 1850, marked "E & S" (image courtesy of

DID YOU KNOW that besides being useful, coin silver items in the home helped secure the family's fortune? A thief would find it more difficult to dispose of the distinctly marked and engraved pieces than he would a sack of coins (source: Kovels On Antiques and Collectibles)