Can my Sterling Silver be Repaired?

A detailed account of how a stelring silver fork of Old Master by Towle is repaired by an expert silver polisher.

Today we take a look at the processes involved in turning a Old Master fork mashed and beaten by a drain disposal back to its original state.  At Beverly Bremer Silver Shop we employ two highly skilled polishers, who together possess over 36 years of experience!  I will take you step by step through the process of fixing one simple piece of sterling silver flatware, a salad fork.

Step 1:  A customer comes into the store shopping as usual and during checkout she asks about fixing a fork that she had brought with her.  Sara, a sales associate, takes the piece and looks it over and tells the customer that she will ask the polishers to see what they can do! 

The Old Master fork pictured below, is handed to Haile, a veteran polisher, who is asked if he can fix this disposal damaged fork?

He responds with confidence, “Yes, I can fix this, as the pattern on the handle has minimal damage!”

Step 2:  Haile moves quickly to his work bench where he asseses the damage.  In a moment, he pulls out a plastic tool that resembles a small pipe, slowly and carefully he reshapes the tines to make them straight enough to hammer out into shape. 

 
 Step 3:  After the tines have been straightened by hand, he manipulates the rest of the imperfections using a plastic hammer, working on a molded spoon shaped piece connected to a vice.  To watch his quick hands make the malformed fork into a perfect piece of art again, was a sight to see.  Meticulously he fixed the outside dents and dings by working each piece of metal.  In just a few minutes the fork began to take a recognizable form.
 
 
Step 4: Using a polishing wheel with several assorted brushes and waxes, Haile works out the minor dings and scratches again, moving so fast that his hands seem to be flawlessly one with the machine.  The damage on the fork slowly disappeared until all that was left was the resin from polishing. 
 
 
Step 5:  Finally, he buffs the most lustrous metal in the world into a perfect shine, flawless and beautiful.
 
 
Step 6:  Sara picks up the fork from Haile in the polishing room with only 7 minutes of elapsed time.  Sara thanks Haile with a big smile and he responds, “No problem Sara!”
 
 
From beginning to end, the skilled expertise of the polisher using his tools led to a near perfect product of what was once scrap metal.  If you would like to know more about fixing your sterling silver pieces, please feel free to contact Beverly Bremer Silver Shop to talk with a member of our expert staff.
 
Beverly Bremer Silver Shop
3164 Peachtree Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30305
800-270-4009
404-261-4009
 
 

Pie and Cake Servers, The Tasty Truth

Cake and Pie Servers History in Recent Past: Read this article to find out about the origins and fucntionality of this vital utensil.

 
Fish Slice
Fish Slice
Pastry Server
Pastry Server
Pie/Cake Server
Pie/Cake Server
Cake Server
Cake Server

You slice into the fresh chocolate cake, seeing the shine of the silver server glimmering in the low light after dinner,  slicing with the motion your grandmother did with the same server.  You think to yourself how many times she had used this utensil before she gave it to you, forgetting the fact just an hour ago you found out you were having in-laws over for dinner.

Gathering for meals has been a time honored practice that dates back before cakes!  In fact the development of tools such as the cake server and the fish slicer were only developed a relatively short time ago.   Beginning as a rough device made from various metals, this perfected piece has been used for many items besides cakes, in fact it is probably the only utensil you cannot do without.

The use of various metal fish, pudding and cake slices (iron, pewter, silver) is well documented as far back as the 16th century. The English cake-like puddings, both savory and sweet, were abundant and, in fact, dinner time was just as often called “pudding time.” These early puddings, which could be meatless, or which could contain meat, fish or fowl, were the earliest foods to be served with flat-blade slices.  Also, a distinction was made between these servers and general cutlery — They were servers for cooked foods, with nothing near the same sharpness of knives.  It should also be noted that stuffing was also commonly called puddings.

 The fish slice and the cake slice seem to have a common ancestor, or set of ancestors, in the trowel-shaped implements that served puddings. During most of the 18th century, both were of similar form, but the fish slice developed a wide, offset scimitar blade, while the cake slice remained more trowel-like. As the 19th century progressed, the trowel, sometimes flat, sometimes “dished,” became standard. By the late 19th century, American silver manufacturers were offering pie knives, pastry servers and cake slices, all of similar but slightly different form, within the same pattern.

In 1909 Tiffany & Co. was offering a “strawberry shortcake server” in addition to pie knives, pastry servers and cake servers. Straight cake slices were also introduced, with either a flat edge or with saw teeth. This explosion in the number and diversity of all kinds of silver servers, and the increased role of the dining rituals that spawned them, is directly related to the expansion of the US economy from the end of the Civil War until the 1920’s.

The Cake Server is flat and is designed for cutting and laying a piece on its side while removing it from the cake. The Pie and Cake Server has a 1-inch bend that allows for a scooping motion into a pie pan as well as a smooth removal of a slice from a cake as displayed below.

Cake Server Side View Cake Server Side View
Pie/Cake Server Side View Pie/Cake Server Side View

 

 

 

Though simple, without this fine piece, there would be many cake and pie slices being cleaned up from the floor!

 

Quotes to Consider:

An article in Scribner’s, circa 1874, describes a “…cake knife which has a fine saw to its splendid blade, to divide the frosting without fracture.”

The book Savory Suppers, Fashionable Feasts: Dining in Victorian America, by Susan Williams, addresses the proliferation and use of new servers, place setting pieces and etiquette books in social and religious terms: “The publication and instant popular interest in Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species in 1859 only fueled such speculative discussions of the critical importance of manners…”

 SOURCE: Joseph P. Brady Beverly Bremer Silver Shop Historian

What size is my sterling silver flatware: Luncheon, Place or Dinner?

From the late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s silver manufacturers produced their silver patterns with two different sizes of knives and forks for a main course: luncheon, which was the smaller size, and dinner the larger size.  Many people had and used both sizes; luncheon size was used primarily for breakfast and lunch, while the dinner size was used for more formal dinners. Luncheon and dinner sizes remain the standard for English, American and continental makers to this day.

 A size called: “grill” or “viande” was popular for a short time around WWII.  The knives and forks are characterized with elongated handles and short knife blades and fork tines. 

 During the late 1950s and early 1960s, many manufacturers introduced an entirely new size called the “place size”.  This size is commonly slightly larger than the luncheon size, but smaller than the dinner size.  Some renamed their smaller, luncheon size forks and changed only the style of the knife and began calling both the new place size.  To distinguish between the many pieces, the Gorham company often places a small <P> within a diamond on the back of the place forks as well as on the stainless steel blade of the place knife above the Gorham name. 

Place Fork and Place Knife pictured on the left.  Luncheon Fork and Luncheon Knife French Blade on the right.
Place Fork and Place Knife pictured on the left. Luncheon Fork and Luncheon Knife French Blade on the right.

 The many choices have confused consumers for the past fifty years.  You do not need to be confused!  You may determine the size of your set by measuring the knife and largest fork in your place setting.   Place the fork face down on a ruler for the most accurate measurement.  A luncheon fork measures between 6 7/8″ and 7 1/4″ whereas a dinner fork can measure between 7 1/2″ and 8″.  The place size fork measures between 7 1/4″ and 7 3/8″.  A luncheon knife measures 8 3/4″ to 9″ and a dinner knife between  9 5/8″ and  10″.  The place knife measures 9 1/8″ to 9 1/4″ in length.  If you have any questions as to which size you have in your set, you may visit our website www.beverlybremer.com to find your pattern where each piece is listed with a measurement or you may call one of our experts at 800.270.4009. 

 

From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Fork, Place Fork and Dinner Fork in Strasbourg by Gorham
From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Fork, Place Fork and Dinner Fork in Strasbourg by Gorham

 

 

From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Knife Tapered Blade, Place Knife and Dinner Knife Tapered Blade in Strasbourg by Gorham
From top to bottom as follows: Luncheon Knife Tapered Blade, Place Knife and Dinner Knife Tapered Blade in Strasbourg by Gorham

 Many people who have a luncheon size set add dinner knives and forks to their set to offer flexibility in entertaining.  Likewise, people purchase extra luncheon forks for use for buffet or for dessert service paired with a dessert spoon and set at the top of a dinner plate. 

Luncheon, place, dinner, or even viande your silver should be used and enjoyed every time you set your table!  The value of your set can increase  10 times every 50 years- even with everyday use!