I have featured several â€œbeautiesâ€ from my sisterâ€™s extensive collection of silver and have learned a bit from the pieces and makers that she collects. Since we entertain extensively at home, we do use our silver (mostly plated that is) fairly often. For serving pieces at a buffet, we often use sterling silver or plated silver that we purchased at flea markets around the world. These are typically unmatched heavy pieces, often from closeouts at hotels, restaurants, garage sales, etc. They are only worth a few dollars a piece but they add that special glitter to a buffet. So I do occasionally have my antennae out for second hand silverâ€¦ While shopping on Calle Crisologo in Vigan, I came across an antiques shop that stocked extensive pottery (probably 60% fake or replica types), old coins and bills and crystal. The Kid has taken to collecting coins/bills so I was looking at their money counterâ€¦
Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a huge pile of nearly black silverware, piles upon piles of spoons, forks and knives. A quick perusal led to an initial conclusion that these were lightly plated, and of wickedly atrocious design. But I revisited the pile a couple of minutes later and started to move things around. I asked how much the silver was and was told each piece was about PHP250 or USD5. That was incredibly overpriced for most of the stuff there. That is, until I spied a near pitch black utensil that appeared to be an asparagus server or similar doodad. I pulled the item out of the stack, took it out onto the street and gave it a closer look. It was weighty, nicely shaped, smelled real, and wouldnâ€™t you know it, buried under the gunk was a hallmark that it was from the silversmiths Mappin & Webb! This was a plated serving piece, but a wonderful find. And the asking price? PHP250, same as everything else!
So I went back to the pile and realized there was 97% junk but yet there were a few interesting piecesâ€¦ we ended up pulling out about ten nice heavy serving pieces that turned out to be original Christofle plated silverware, in a design from about 80-100 years ago! Could this be? A real plated silver find on a main tourist thoroughfare in Vigan? I thought it was. And we bought all of them for roughly PHP200 a piece or $4 each, after bargaining with the saleslady. Too bad they didnâ€™t have the whole set, they said one of the nearby homeowners sold it to them as a set but they sold it off in piecesâ€¦yikes! And yes, it did cross my mind that the pieces may have been stolen and pawned, but they did have a LOT of silver for sale.
Back in Manila, the pieces were cleaned up quickly to see if they were a steal or a rip-off and these beautiful pieces emerged. We are so pleased. These will definitely add to our eclectic mix of second hand silver pieces. And at the right price as well!
We got serving utensils for fish, and other shapes I donâ€™t even know what for. They are cleanly designed, heavy in weight, most of the silver in good shape, and just an all around minor treasure! You just never know where you will find an incredible goodyâ€¦