Sunday, January 13, 2008

Junk: It's All in the Perception


I've been posting photos of old silver on a message board where the members have been generously identifying them for me. The pieces were getting oohs and aahs until I posted the picture of this berry spoon.

I posted it rather proudly. The spoon is large and heavy, and has an almost soft feel to it. It has been special to me ever since I received it as a wedding gift over 40 years ago from a special woman.

"Junk!" the silver mavens declared when they saw it. Junk? How could a heavy piece of sterling silver be junk? Easy, apparently. They explained that the person who bought it probably thought it was a good piece, and it was indeed sterling. But it was mass produced, the pattern of the bowl stolen from another, and the handle lacking detail. When I received that spoon I wondered why it had so little detail. I thought maybe I'd been given an antique. Shows you how much I know.

Good thing it has lots of sentimental value. The special woman's name was Margaret Cobb, and she was a geologist long before women were geologists. My dad worked for an oil company, and after my mother died when I was nine he took me to work with him on occasion. I realize now that those were probably the days he didn't have someone to watch me at home, but at the time I thought he just liked to take me along. He was that kind of father.

I usually spent a good part of each day with Miss Cobb. She was in charge of the corporate library. She was a soft-spoken southern woman, to all appearances rather fragile, but she knew a ton about a lot of things, and the rocks and minerals in her office could keep me fascinated for hours. She took me for a walk in downtown New York and told me how garnets could still be found in the streets.

My memories of Miss Cobb are among the most vivid and the most comforting from a terribly difficult time. I found her much later—when I was 30—but I don't remember how. She was quite elderly by that time, and living in Norfolk, Virginia. We exchanged some letters, and she still had the marvelous spidery handwriting I remembered from my childhood. Her brother notified me when she died.

I'll be selling some silver this winter, pieces that have sat in drawers or cupboards or boxes for too long. But I'm not selling everything. One piece, at least, will get polished and used. Quite proudly.

11 comments:

crystal said...

Your spoon looks beautiful to me :-) Are you selling the silver on eBay? After my mom died, Jana and I decided to try to sell the silver that belonged to her. It is just plated, though, and we couldn't figure out how to seel it - all together in a box, or one peice at a time. Maybe I'll ask your advice about it at the coffeehouse.

Susan said...

I'm waiting at the coffeehouse, Crystal . . . :-)

crystal said...

For some reason, posting isn't working at the coffeehouse.

I was thinking of trying to see some of the silverware (plated) my mom left at ebay. I've seen some pf the spoons and forks for sale other places online for about $5 each. I'm not sure how to sell a number of things one at a time at ebay, but I don't think anyone will want to buy the whole box of silverware. Any advice?

Indigo Bunting said...

Hey! I can't see the spoon.

Lovely piece about the inner beauty of a piece.

Susan said...

Stupid me--I had 62 silver photos so I created a new Photobucket album for them. But when I moved them from where they were (my eBay album) all the connections were lost. I just fixed this one, at least.

Crystal, do you know the name of the manufacturer and pattern? You need that information. Is "the box" an entire service for 8 or 12 or whatever? If so, someone may want to buy it intact. If not, you're selling replacement pieces, which is fine, too.

Once you determine the pattern, I would contact Replacements.com and see how much they'll give you for it. (They do NOT want you to polish it, by the way.) Then compare to what the pieces are going for on eBay. Replacements would certainly be easier than eBay, and their prices are generally good. Email me if you have questions, and I'll make up an answer. :-)

Indigo Bunting said...

Oooo, pretty!

crystal said...

Thanks, Susan! I've been looking everywhere for the info on the silverware but can't find it. Jana has it at her house too though, so I should get it in a day or two. I've never heard of Replacements.com, I'll check them out. It would be great if I could sell some of the silverware there :-)

Susan said...

Crystal, I should tell you I've decided to go the eBay route instead. I was less than thrilled with the prices quoted by Replacements, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't check them out. I admit I may be influenced by the $77 I got on eBay for some playing cards this week. :-)

crystal said...

Susan, Jana and I are going to look at Replacements.com tomorrow and see what we can see. If it doesn't look good I'll ask you more about ebay, if that's ok. I've been busy taking care of Kermit who isn't doing too well. I hope all is well with you and assorted animal buddies.

Susan said...

Sure. Ask me anything you like. I hope Kermit gets better quickly. Only 10ยบ here tonight, and my hands are already a mess this winter. But the animals and I are warm in the house.

Mrs Slocombe said...

that was lovely:mavens never do have any tact.