European/Hanau (?) Silver, need help.

baerbaerFebruary 7, 2009

Hi All!

I need help! Silver is my expertise, but not European silver. I have three items I have tirelessly tried to identify. The markings are unfamiliar and vague, but I am sure this is European-grade (800) silver. Before anyone asks for photos of the stamps, I have tried repeatedly but they will not photograph. If needed I will gladly sketch them and photo that. This is what I have:

1). A 3-prong fork with the center tine much longer, like a trident. At the prong end of stem, but before the tines, is a "medallion" of sorts with a scene of a seated man playing a small harp or lyre, a man in a Dutch (?) cap and a cane over his arm standing in front of the seated man, and a small child seated at the standing man's feet. All three appear to be in front of a house or cottage. On the stem end is a man standing with a yoke across his shoulders supporting two pails suspended by ropes. It is 7 3/8" and stamped verso on the center prong with a crown (similar to German stamps), an elongated hexagon with "HH" inside it, and then "90".

2). A spoon with an open barley twist stem. The bowl is repouse'd with figures of a woman heavily gowned and cloaked standing next to a heavily robed man carrying a horn over his back. The end of the stem is topped with what appears to be a two-masted Viking ship. The bowl is stamped verso with what looks like an elongated Maltese Cross, a raised-wing swan (not the swan seen in French wares) sitting atop what is probably a shield of sorts, and the only letter that is clear is "V". It is 6" long.

And 3). a salt spoon with a woman supporting a yoke across her shoulders with two pails. It appears to stamped "0090" in a very elongated octagon on the back of the stem. It is 3" long.

Any ideas? I've tried off and on for several years and have simply given up.

Kindest regards,


Here is a link that might be useful:

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Certainly you have done an exhaustive search of the web.
There are forums devoted to ID-ing silver marks, you might try one of them.
Linda C

Here is a link that might be useful: hallmarks

    Bookmark   February 7, 2009 at 12:56PM
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Since they're marked '90', is it possible that this is a silverplate mark (since it's 2 digits rather than 3)? This is just a shot-in-the-dark since European marks are definitely not my area of expertise either.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 12:52AM
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Look at the's not plate. But I don't really know waht it is...not "sterling" either....
Does it tarnish? Could it be another metal than silver?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 1:02AM
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Plate & silver alloys don't necessarily look different, especially if they've never been used enough to show wear & they've aged for a hundred or so years.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 1:23AM
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Hi Linda and Hester,

Thanks for the replies. I have handled more pieces of silver than I care to remember and correct, from "properties" familiar to "silver people" it is not sterling. It also lacks the distinctive "blue-ing" familiar to silver plate. I am thinking it is from some obscure country, or even Hanau, and certain it is "800" or similar grade.

I have seen some cases where the year is stamped in code making me think that the "90" stamp on the fork is 1890.

Linda, I love the site you attached ( and use it all the time. There is also It has tons of material, but can be a bit tedious to use.

Thank you both again. I will keep plugging away!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 5:41AM
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Does anyone know the signifigance of the scenes portrayed here? Germany & the Netherlands produced a lot of this type silverware(& others, too) but was it just a collectible phase similiar to our souvenier silver?

Baer, the reason I suggested that 90 might be a plate mark comes from Scott Martin's book "Guide to Evaluating Gold & Silver Objects", pg 15.

"As a general rule solid silver goods are marked in thousandths, plated goods are marked in hundredths..... Some common Continetal numerical marks denoting plated ware are: 40, 60, 84, & 90."
He then goes on to discuss the exceptions of the Loth system & Zolotniks.

Just a thought. Did the Europeans always plate with solid silver or could they have used 800? Would this account for the lack of blueness?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2009 at 4:09PM
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Hello again!

Sorry, I have been "away" working on some intense family genealogy.

Yes, I agree that the themes of country farm life on the three pieces are of the Netherlands or possibly Germany or Norway (the boat). They were probably "trendy" and made for the collectibles market of their time.

The reason I am certain it is 800 silver is that it has the same distinctive colour and feel of all of my other European silver. I am suggesting Hanau because this would be the kind of work they would do, and fits with being poorly marked (like my other Hanau silver). They are not pewter or other familiar base metals.

But, the two-digit plating codes are still something to look into!!

I cannot answer the question regarding the differences between European and American silver plate. I am not familiar with European plate and how their base metals compare to the US, but the typical "blueing" on American plate might be either from the reaction of the base metal bleeding through or from the quality of the silver used for plating (kind of the same way very modern and mass produced silver plate, especially that coated in an anti-tarnish film, looks white or yellowish).

But the question remains: does the Trident form of the fork tines have a use or meaning?

I truly appreciate everyones' help. I always have fun comparing notes with you all!!!


    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 4:42PM
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I believe that the electrolitic process for plating, does not allow for plating with 800 silver.
800 silver is metal that is 800 parts out of 1000 pure silver and the rest "something else" variously chrome, copper etc.
Unless you are speaking of old Sheffield plate, silver is plated by electrolys which runs a current through a silver solution and a piece of base metal and the silver comes out of solution and is deposited on the piece.....rather simplistically put.
Now I don't think you can plate with less than pure silver.....someone correct me if I am wrong.
Linda C

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 8:22PM
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Occasionally I've seen pieces plated with sterling, or at least, they were marked as such. It's a great way to throw in the word 'sterling' without actually supplying much of it!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 2:15PM
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I have seen and bought...:-(( ....pieces marked "Sterling silver plate company" and pieces marked "Sterling plated ware".
Ireally don't belkieve you can plate with anything but pure least electroplate.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2009 at 7:26PM
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Check out this ebay listing. Although there isn't a picture of the marks, they sound like a match for your barley twist spoon - & the piece is stamped 800 & the full initials are legible.

Here is a link that might be useful: a confection spoon with similar markings

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 1:09AM
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Wow! antiquesilver,

You pegged it head on. I will watch this item.

Many thanks to you and Linda!

Kindest regards,

    Bookmark   February 14, 2009 at 7:46AM
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