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WMF Silver Plated Art Nouveau

WMF Art Nouveau

There are a lot of categories of antique silverware available today and it’s a truly rewarding area to explore. Whether you’re buying for a special occasion or you’re an avid collector, some silver makers stand out from the rest.

One of these is WMF silver plated art nouveau. For sheer range, quality and artistic design, there are few more prolific manufacturers on the planet and it’s no surprise they are a favourite with collectors around the world.

If you are looking to buy a gift, for example, for a wedding or anniversary, there’s certainly plenty to choose from.

What is Art Nouveau?

Art nouveau is a decorative and ornamental style that began to flourish across Europe and the United States towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. It’s defined by the utilisation of long lines that are almost sinuous and is a design that was often applied to decorative items and architecture. It’s sometimes characterized by thin, wispy vines and leaves, insect-like wings intertwined with figures and are highly attractive.

The leading lights of art nouveau were people like Aubrey Beardsley in Britain and Belgian architect Henry van de Velde among many others.

Who is WMF?

WMF or Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik is a German manufacturer and designer of metalware including silver plated tableware. They started way back in the 1850s and over the next fifty years became one of the leading exporters of household metalware in the world.

By the late 19th century, they had begun to create silver-plated homeware and tableware in the art nouveau style under the direction of sculptor and designer Albert Mayer. These pieces are now very collectable.

Silver Plate vs Solid Silver

Silver plate has a thin coating of silver over another base metal such as copper, pewter or brass. It was a process that was invented in 1840 and is used widely in mass production today. Sterling or solid silver, on the other hand, is more than 92.5% pure metal.

Both silver plate and solid silver have their pros and cons when buying or collecting. The downside of silver plate is that it can chip and degrade after a while – if you are buying an antique from a reputable dealer it’s likely that it will have had some restoration undertaken to restore the plate.

The intrinsic value of silver in the silver plate is low compared to sterling but that doesn’t mean it is less valuable. Antique silver plate, especially art nouveau styles from WMF, is valued more on the maker's name and provenance than the base quality of the metal. The quality and condition of the item is also very important.

WMF Silver Plate Art Nouveau Characteristics

The thing that many collectors like about WMF silver plate is the sheer variety of tableware available. From cutlery sets and dishes to decanters and even ink blotters, building a collection is relatively easy. The attractive nature of the designs means they are also ideal for one-off purchases and gifts.

WMF silver plate art nouveau will have a hallmark stamp and this can vary slightly depending on the product and its age. For example, you may see a WMF stamp with an ‘EP’ which means electro-plated. In addition, there will be a stamp I/O which means it’s created using normal silver plating. There may be also stamps defining the base metal such as AS and NS.

Why is WMF Silver Plated Art Nouveau Worth Collecting?

The majority of WMF silver plated art nouveau was created between 1900 and 1910 when the style was at its height. It is still widely available today through antique dealers and silversmiths where the objects have been restored.

While it doesn’t have the intrinsic value of solid silver, WMF is still worth collecting and buying from a reputable dealer is important. The good news is that if you manage to find an item in a sale somewhere and it needs restoration, this is almost always possible if you give it to a specialist and should increase the price.

How Much is WMF Silver Plated Art Nouveau?

Head online and you can find a wide variety of silver plated art nouveau for sale and the prices range from a few hundred pounds to several thousand. Currently, a rare silver-plated cutlery set for 24 people with nearly 400 pieces is on sale online for close to £30,000. At an auction, rare pieces can often attract more depending on the market.

The good news is that whatever your budget, you can find WMF silver plated art nouveau at a price you can afford. You should expect to pay between £150 and £600 for a good quality piece that has been recently restored.

Caring for Silver Plate

One of the challenges for silver plate of any kind is keeping it in pristine condition. Over months and years, silver can become tarnished because of its exposure to the air. It’s important when cleaning not to use abrasive materials as this will easily damage the surface. If you are giving your silver plate a light dusting then use a soft cloth that isn’t like to scratch the surface.

Deeper cleaning can be achieved using an anti-tarnish silver soap. All you need to do is rinse in warm water for a few minutes and then apply the anti-tarnish, rub it in and then rinse again. Finally, buff it to a shine with a lint-free cloth.

Where to Buy WMF Silver Plated Art Nouveau

Head online and you’ll see plenty of opportunities to buy WMF silver plated art nouveau. It’s important to source any product from a reputable antique dealer or silversmith so you can be 100% sure you are getting the genuine article.

At Edinburgh Silver, we have many years of experience in selling antique and vintage silver of all kinds and we often have a few WMF silver plated art nouveau pieces in our catalogue. Many of these have been lovingly restored by our highly talented and experienced team.

Want to find out more? Check our listings today.
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