What's It Worth? Napkin Rings: Reminders Of A More Formal Past

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The well-appointed 19th-century home from almost every class had napkin rings on the table. Napkin rings vary in size from tiny clips to giant figural creations and are typically sterling silver or American coin silver. Early American versions like the two “shield” versions (lower right) bring 3 to 4 times their silver value. Plain ones like the oval with Ruth monogram (lower left) often bring just their silver value. The larger or more unusually shaped bring more money. Of course, if they are signed (by Tiffany, Gorham, early American silversmiths, or colonial or southern makers), and are figural, they can bring huge premiums – $3,000 to $5,000 if all three criteria are met: sterling silver, high figural and famous maker; these are rare. Also look for familiar historical family names or even railroad, shipping or military versions. Remember, not everything should be thrown on a scale to be paid at silver value. It takes an expert to know the difference between scrap silver and what is truly valuable. Trust the experts at Hess Fine Art. Three former Sothebys.com associates and two art historians on staff. Call or email us if you want to deal with Tampa Bay’s leading auctioneer. We have sold the contents of museums and collections for USF. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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