What am I?

What is this? Questions from Readers

What am I?
What am I?

I get emails on a regular basis from people who are curious about objects they come across. Here’s one from a woman who wondered what the object in the picture was. Can you guess what it is?

Dear Johanne: This silver dish is very worn and I don’t think there is much silver left on it so it wouldn’t be worth much.  But I am curious as to what it would have been used for. Without doing a lot of research, do you know? B.

Dear B.

This is a late Victorian covered butter dish and you are right – it has seen better days. An ornate butter knife would have been placed into the slots on the side of the bottom saucer/dish. If you look at the second picture you will note a glass dish and a metal rim. The owner would have placed ice in the bottom of the dish then placed the glass liner over the ice. The rim would have kept this liner in place. The butter would be placed on the glass dish and covered with the fancy lid. Victorians loved decoration and if there was a place where ornate designs could be added, it was. The style and simplicity of the designs on this piece identifies this piece as being made C1900.

A C1900 butter dish with glass liner and rim.
A C1900 butter dish with glass liner and rim.

The dish you have was made by the Standard Silver Company, a maker of silver plated items who was based in Toronto, Ontario. The mark says it is Quadruple Plated so this tells me that the item was of good quality. It looks like the base metal was made of Britannia Metal due to the greyish cast of the lid. Such items were highly prized in middle class homes and as such were kept polished and bright. Unfortunately such practices also wore off the silver so that what you see today is the result. Thus, there isn’t much value because of its condition.

PS: The other item is a sugar tong.

4 thoughts on “What is this? Questions from Readers

  1. I love items like this. If it’s a piece you treasure ( a family heirloom, etc) you can spend the money and have it replated.

      1. Hi Johannes,

        I have a silver plated flask that I believe was made by the standard silver company in Toronto but I may be wrong.

        It’s an.absolutely beautiful and exquisite piece.

        How can I get it appraised?

        Thank you kindly for you guidance,

      2. The value of silver plated items depends on the market where it is sold, so you may want to contact someone in your area for an appraisal. This may cost you some money. An alternative is to use Google and put as many key words as you can (such as company name and other markings) a description of the piece and add the words “for sale” at the end of the descriptor key words. This will take you to sites where some of the items may be for sale. You may not find the exact piece you are looking for but you will get a sense of how silver plate overall is priced. Good luck.

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