This is a frequent question from readers and customers…why is vintage silver ‘better’ than new(er) silver. The best way to explain it is in terms of quantity, simply put when you buy vintage silver vs new silver you get more silver.
Take a look at this bird’s eye view photo…
From this angle…which not so coincidentally is the way you view the flatware when it’s on your table…these pieces look exactly the same. Tines are the same thickness, same length, shoulders are the same…so they are identical pieces right?
Well, not so fast. Both of these dinner size forks are Louis XV from Whiting. Once was made in the 1880’s and the other as far as I can determine, was made in the early 1920’s. So there is an approximately 40 year age gap between the two pieces.
Now let’s look at them stacked on top of each other…suddenly you get a whole new perpective…literally.
Vintage silver vs new silver
From the side suddenly we are seeing a whole new story. If you look closely at the places where I have put the arrows, you can see the difference in the thickness of each piece. The older fork (on top) is made of more silver. It’s not a difference in the quality of the silver (both are 925), but quantity. The top fork has depth the bottom one is lacking.
In particular, look at the very end of the handle. It’s called the terminal. On the top fork, that terminal is distinctly raised, whereas on the bottom is virtually flush with the rest of the handle.
So what does that thinner profile mean?
The difference in weight between the two forks is 0.614 oz. That means the old fork is made of 28.26% more silver than the more recently produced one. Keep in mind that this difference is only over about a 40 year span. Some of the very popular patterns have production runs that last nearly 100 years.
That is why you are often urged to buy vintage pieces rather than new. The older pieces have more heft to them…in addition to ‘value’ this also has a practical side in that they don’t bend or damage very easily. They are very solid!
Remember, there is no difference in the quality of the silver…both forks are made from .925 sterling silver. Simply one fork was made with 1.559 oz of silver and the older fork was made with 2.173 oz of silver.