Vermont Coin Silver

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On eBay  we are helping a collector liquidate his Vermont Coin Silver Collection.  We will not be double listing this MAJOR Vermont Coin Silver Collection here, when it will all be listed and described with multiple pictures on eBay .

This collection contains over 400 pieces in various forms and by more than 40 Vermont silversmiths.  A rare opportunity for collectors to fill out their collection and for others to find a piece of Vermont history from a Vermont town they may love and be connected to!

 Coin Silver: Is It a Vermont Mark? A Collector?s Dilemma by David Perrin is the current and best reference source! (Self published in 2005)



Vermont Coin Silver

Many people are drawn to Vermont Coin Silver and its unique history!

Due to a scarcity of silver in early America, silversmiths often melted down coins to obtain the raw materials needed to produce silver spoons; hence the term ?coin silver?. Coin silver is any silver that’s made from 90 percent silver and 10 percent copper.

Within American coin silver, Vermont coin silver is unique because of the predominance of spoons. In the Colonial and post-Colonial era, when a young woman married, she would have her dowry, as well as a set of silver teaspoons, tablespoons, and maybe tongs so she could serve tea to visitors. That?s typically what you find today; lots of spoons and ladles and tea items. They survived because they were only used on special occasions.

These teaspoons and tea sets were made in lots of little towns in Vermont. From the name of the owner engraved on the front of the handle or the name of the town stamped on the back, you can identify where and approximately when something was made.

People like Perrin naturally use the incised and impressed marks on spoons to identify them.

One thing Vermont was definitely not known for was its hollowware. Teapots, bowls and larger items were typically found in the big cities like Boston, Hartford, New York, or Philadelphia. People in little Vermont farming towns didn?t have that kind of money, and if they did, they?d go to Boston to buy it. 

So silver making was strictly tied to the economic fortune of the area, which is why little towns in Vermont like Lyndonville might have one man who made some spoons for the local ladies who were just about to be married, and that was it.

According to Perrin, there was another reason why Vermont silversmiths stuck to flatware. ?Vermont silversmiths were mostly former apprentices from other states such as Connecticut and Massachusetts,? he says. ?They needed to find a place where they could make a living without competing with their masters. Vermont offered that, and flatware was relatively easy for these apprentices to make.?

There is a difference between coin silver and sterling.  Coin Silver is 90% silver and sterling is .925%. There is a difference of 2.5%.  It is the same composition as American coins made prior to 1964.  Part of the reason silver of all types tarnishes is due to the copper alloy contained in the piece. In coin silver there is 10% copper to give it strength.

From our colonial times until recently, silver signified affluence.  For the most part coin silver flatware demanded a degree of hand craft by a city/town silversmith.  After the 1870?s and the establishment of the sterling standard, silver mass manufacturing became prevalent. 

The Comstock Lode of 1859 catapulted the industry into mass manufacturing and by 1870 sterling had all but replaced coin silver.  The small, local silversmiths were replaced by jewelry shops and ‘fancy goods’ merchants; these shops retailed sterling silver made in large, mostly Northern, factories.    

We have heard repeatedly that coin silver is inferior to sterling. That is simply not the truth. The 10% alloy of copper makes it stronger.  It is the gauge of the metal thickness that makes coin silver apt to bend and dent more readily then sterling.  Your purchase has a real place in our country?s history.  It was a craft originally found in cities and towns.  

You may want to consider collecting coin silver made in your state or in and around city centers before 1870

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