The Mysterious Case of the Antique Monogrammed Silver


An uncountable amount of antique monogrammed silver pieces have crossed my path in the last 25 years. Most of my clients have one thing in common; they do not know who the relatives were that owned the antique silver based on the monograms or how that silver came to be in their family.


When items of perceived value are passed down, it helps to know the name of the relative it came from, the time period it came from and the value so you can pass this along to your family members.


There’s only one problem with this…most of us don’t have that information.


Many of my clients cannot identify their long-ago relative or match that relative to the antique monograms on the assortment of silver they inherited. They just know it was “always in mom’s home.”  Sometimes, their mother’s don’t even know where it came from or mom has passed away and that information is now lost.  Often I will hear a client say, “I have no idea who ‘CHR’ was.”  As an appraiser, I can help them identify the age of the silver and who manufactured it, but not who owned it.


It is not unusual for my clients to actively begin searching their genealogy tree or get connected with, but the answer to the silver monogram mystery is rarely found there.


Perhaps it came from a relative by marriage that no one can recall, or two best girlfriends that exchanged their monogrammed silver spoons with each other as a symbol of their forever friendship.


This was common practice back in their era to offer a beautiful gift that the recipient would always cherish. In these two cases, the silver trickled down to my clients, never to be identified.  Sometimes when I hold these spoons or serving pieces, I too, wonder who “Lilly” or “ADM” were and imagine the time period in which they lived.  But the image in my mind is only speculation of the young women who once owned these pieces.


In many cases, there may only be a few odd, antique silver teaspoons that do not have much value. My Boomer clients say, “If it is not from a relative, or I didn’t know the relative, I really have no attachment to it” and the antique silver is generally sold to someone who will have more of a desire for it.  These days, even if they do know the relative, many will opt to sell it because we no longer live in a formal society.


From pre-Victorian times to Edwardian, to Art Nouveau, to Art Deco, sterling silver has been considered a very important possession every young woman should have.  As such, it was highly revered.  Through the decades (or century), these sets have been divided among other relatives or friends that came long before you.


Will the mystery ever be solved? One never knows but if you have an imagination like me, you will conjure an image of an elegant young woman in a long, white linen dress who truly treasured her silver back in the day.


©2017 The Estate Lady ® No part of The Estate Lady® blogs, whole or partial, may be used without Julie Hall’s written consent.  Email her at  Julie Hall, The Estate Lady®, is a nationally known expert on personal property in estates, including liquidating, advising/consulting, and appraising.  She is also the Director of American Society of Estate Liquidators®, the national educational and resource organization for estate liquidation.

5 thoughts on “The Mysterious Case of the Antique Monogrammed Silver

  1. I’m 56 and remember the day I went to JW Robinsons to select my pattern. I was 18. No where near the age to be collecting for a trousseau.Mom had Versailles – which I adored. It was important for her that I select my ‘own’. I picked something very plain, very simple. Both my mother and the saleswoman directed my choice to another pattern. Sir Christopher! I remember the saleswoman sweetly saying “listen to two older hens, your taste will change. You’ll appreciate the beauty more when you give this to your daughter. And who knows, in a few years, the companies may no longer make the ornate patterns.”
    I’m so glad she did! This Easter I used both the Sir Christopher and the Versailles to the delight of my guests. None of which had ever seen such ornate silver. And more importantly – brought back such loving memories. I never had children. I do hope someone will treasure it and not melt it down for scrap!

    1. So wonderful you use your priceless pieces. They aren’t meant to just look at or collect dust. Start planning your next party and showcase your beautiful pieces. Even if it’s a small get together let them be seen and used. 😉

  2. I’m 48 and call myself a dinosaur! I’m very resistant to the age of technology. But there is something to be said to share with our next generation (I have a 22 yr old son, 13 yr old son and 7 yr old daughter) proper manners and etiquette. It is music to my ears when I get compliments at a fine restaurant how well mannered our children are. My parents were older when they had me (I’m the youngest of 6) so I went to many adult only soirees. Something I’m so grateful that I was able to enjoy! My children know how to set a table properly and be a gracious, helpful guest. The China and special flatware and serving ware come out and educate the next generation. Thank you mom and dad, you would be so proud your traditions carry on in 2017. 😉

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