Late 19th Century, early 20th Century Silver Serving set in
its original velvet and silk lined fitted storage case. A
complete selection of nine monogrammed sterling silver
serving pieces for serving dessert or light refreshments.
Each serving piece has a handle made of silver and a
"business end" made of silverplated and gilded steel. All
but one of the pieces is stamped with the oval Russian
hallmark for silver introduced in 1908, specifically, the
mark coded for silversmiths working in St. Petersburg: a
kokoshnik head looking right, the Greek letter alpha, and
the number "84". The number indicated the silver content, in
this case 875 out of 1000 parts silver. It is of interest
that each piece is also marked "900", the Western European
mark for sterling silver (900/1000). There are two possible
reasons for the dual markings. The Russian manufacturer may
have had his eye on possible export sales, and so premarked
his silver pieces with the western content number. He may
have had his eye on better domestic sales to upperclass
Russians who would have been familiar with the number from
buying souvenirs while gambling at Monte Carlo or taking the
cure at Baden-Baden. (Frankly, since "900" was not a legal
metal content designation in the Russian Empire, an
ethically challenged St. Petersburg jeweler could have tried
stamping it on any white metal that he pleased.)
Each of these pieces is of identical pattern and hand
engraved (with typical circa 1900 Russian flourish!) with
the Cyrillic letters "A N". (As you can see from our
photographs, these two letters can also be read as the Latin
letters for "A H".) The steel components were silver plated
and then gilded.
The overall condition of the set is excellent. Its component
pieces were obviously used from time to time over the years
but they show no more overall wear than what you would see
on a nicely maintained set of family silver. The silver
handles are truly in excellent condition. In every case, the
gold plating on the steel portions has thinned and the
underlying silver plating shows minor wear. Only the bowl of
the Salad Spoon shows significant loss to the plating; this
might be correctable by having a jeweler replate it.
(Stainless steel for use in dinnerware was really not
perfected before the outbreak of the First World War.)
As stated, each serving piece is marked with the Western
European "900" stamp and a Russian silver hallmark, the sole
exception being the Sugar Shovel (noted below). The
dimensions of the pieces in the set are as follows:
Cake Knife: Overall 30cm long, 28mm wide at the
widest point. The silver handle is 128mm in length and the
steel component is 17cm long. Weight: 143.3 grams.
Olive/Pickle Fork: Overall 15cm long, 17mm wide at
the widest point. The silver handle is 79mm in length and
the steel component is 69mm long. Weight: 21.2 grams. One
tine has a slight kink about 1cm from the tip.
Ice Cream Server: Overall 24cm long, 7mm wide at the
widest point. The silver handle is 115mm in length and the
steel component is 12cm long. Weight: 107.0 grams.
Pie or Cake Server: Overall 27cm long, 6cm wide at
the widest point. The silver handle is 113mm in length and
the steel component is 16cm long. Weight: 110.8 grams.
Two Petit Four Servers:one is 17cm long overall, 3cm
wide at the widest point; the other is 17cm long overall,
3cm wide at its widest point. The silver handles are both
approximately 93mm in length with steel components that
measure 78mm. Weights: 44.8grams and 46.4grams. One of
the two has an almost unnoticeable kink on one side about
4mm from the tip.
Sugar Shovel or Relish Scoop: Overall 17cm long, 30mm
wide at the widest point. The silver handle is 92mm in
length and the steel component is 81mm long. Marked only
with the Western European "900" with no Russian silver
hallmark. Weight: 43.2 grams. Please note: this piece is
completely identical in design and construction to the
others - we have observed that sometimes pieces did come
through from jewelers without everything being marked.
Two Piece Salad Serving Set:
Serving Fork: Overall 24cm long, 4cm wide at the
widest point. The silver handle is 114mm in length and the
steel component is 120mm long. Weight: 115.2 grams.
Serving Spoon: Overall 23cm long, 5cm wide at
the widest point. The silver handle is 115mm in length and
the steel component is 117mm long. Weight: 103.4 grams.
Please note: in each case, the weights given include not
just the silver but everything - the steel portions,
the silver components plus whatever ballast material it took
to fill the silver handles and give them a good heft. Only
forks and spoons in silverware sets were ever fashioned of
solid silver, any utensil fashioned of both silver and steel
invariably had a hollow cast handle.
Storage Case: 13 ½" wide, 2 5/8" high, and 19 ½"
long. The case still does its job but it does show its age.
The groove across the lid is something of a mystery; it is
too precise to be any sort of a split from warping, so it
must be a deliberate design element; perhaps there once was
a narrow wooden inlay that filled it. Two small screws have
been added on the back corners of the case for strength.
The part of the case that shows the most wear is the bottom
which is obviously out of view.
With careful maintenance, this set is still capable of
rendering good service, almost a hundred years after it was
assembled in pre-Revolutionary Saint Petersburg. Very
elegant then, still elegant today.