Things You'll Need
Buying and evaluating antiques has become a very popular hobby. Understanding and identifying what you have found can be the most difficult part of this process. If you have a silver coffee and tea set, you may be interested in learning what the marks on the set can tell you about its quality or the place where it was made. There are a few simple things to look for that will give you an idea of what kind of set that you have.
Look for numbers on the sterling silver coffee and tea set. If it is marked .925, it is likely newer sterling silver. The .950 mark identifies older and slightly better-quality sterling silver, while .835 is a common European silver. The number 800 indicates 80 percent silver and 20 percent alloy.
Look for marks that indicate the origin of the silver. Many regions have specific marks that can be difficult to see or read. The "T" marking is a sign of a piece from the 1970s or newer from Mexico. Most other countries are identified by the entire name of the country stamped on the piece. A "SIAM" mark will mean sterling silver from Thailand, while "PLATA" is an older Mexican silver.
Turn a piece from the set over and and look to see if there is a name then a back slash and the word "STERLING;" if so then you have identified the maker of the set and the type of silver used. Other sets may only have the maker or the maker and the year, with no indications as to whether it is real silver. If this is the case, then your set is probably not silver.
Go to an antiques dealer or other professional if you are still uncertain about the marks on your coffee and tea set. Some manufacturers were producing sets before there were methods to properly inscribe them. These pieces will usually have strange marks that are made up of only a few letters or numbers. This will not help to identify anything about the set and will more than likely the set will need to be assessed by an expert..