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In the Family: a Silver-Plated Teapot

What's It Worth?

March 10, 2001|KATHY BRYANT | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

WHAT IS IT?

An American silver-plated teapot signed "Rogers Smith Co., New Haven, Conn. 1873."

WHAT'S ITS LEGEND?

"This antique teapot was given to me on my 25th wedding anniversary by my parents," said Garden Grove resident Shirley Graves. "It was a wedding gift to them in 1921. I would now like to give it to my daughter for her 25th anniversary, so I'm interested in learning more about it."

WHAT'S ITS HISTORY?

William Rogers Sr. and George W. Smith formed a partnership on Jan. 1, 1857, to manufacture silver-plated and Britannia ware. George W. Smith was the holloware specialist in the company.

In 1861, Rogers, Smith & Co. consolidated with Rogers Bros. Mfg. Co. because of financial difficulties, and in 1863 the company moved to New Haven, Conn., which is where this piece was made.

"This beautiful teapot displays all of the characteristics of American 'Eastlake' design, popular from 1870-1890," said James P. Drewry, co-owner of Lynn Peri Antiques in the Laguna Design Center, Laguna Niguel.

"Also known as the Aesthetic period, animal feet, lions' heads, faces of mythological beings and forms inspired by nature [such as the bulbous shape of this teapot] are typical motifs found in silver-plated wares of this time.

"The invention of electroplating in 1840 made it possible for the burgeoning middle classes of American's industrial age to afford elegant holloware. A thin layer of pure silver was applied to a base metal such as copper or nickel using the process of electrodeposition," he said.

WHY POPULAR TODAY?

Silver-plated items are less expensive than sterling silver ones, yet they often have the same look. They made elegant accessories for entertaining, and antiques are often cheaper than new ones. Most collectors like the idea of using silver that has a history, so a teapot that's been handed down from generation to generation becomes quite special.

WHAT'S IT WORTH TODAY?

"I would appraise this pot at $95 to $125," Drewry said.

WHERE CAN I FIND OUT MORE?

There are many books on the subject. Among them are "Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers," revised edition, by Dorothy T. Rainwater & Judy Redfield (1998, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., $19.95) and "Antique Hunter's Guide to American Silver & Pewter" by Donald L. Fennimore and Elizabeth Von Habsburg (2000, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishing, $15.98).

The Silver Magazine's Web site (http://www.silvermag.com) is an excellent source for information about silver.

* To have an item considered for this column, send information, a photograph of it and a phone number to: What's It Worth?, Home Design, The Times' Orange County edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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