The “Original” Tiffany

We recently had the opportunity to conduct an appraisal on a sterling silver flatware set by Tiffany & Co. Classy, elegant, and timeless, it is always intriguing to learn more about this luxury and well established retailer.

As with any appraisal of collectables and vintage or antique items, you have to  determine the production time frame of each piece – particularly for such high end manufacturers such as Tiffany. For this particular flatware set, the owners provided us with a clue to its pattern name – “Beekman.” In the unraveling of this dating mystery, we discovered that in fact it was not “Beekman,” but rather a much earlier version, simply called “Tiffany.” It became apparent that many dealers incorrectly label the “Tiffany” pattern as “Beekman.” After all, the two are almost identical, apart from a couple of key features.

The “Tiffany” pattern was Tiffany & Company’s original pattern of sterling flatware, designed by William C. Moore and released in 1869. The identifying features of the earlier Tiffany pattern, in addition to the stamping on the reverse, were found in two characteristics of the design details. The first was the antefix at the terminal tip of each piece. In the original “Tiffany”, it is pointed rather than rounded. The second characteristic was the floral “knobs” located at the base of the stem. They very clearly protrude, disrupting the smooth edge of the stem. Tiffany eventually rounded the antefix (a fancy word for the ornamentation found at the edge), sometime after 1891, but kept the knobbed flowers. The pattern went through a series of changes in the early 1900s and was reintroduce in 1956 and renamed “Beekman.” It still had the rounded tips, but dropped the knobs. 

Based on the distinguishing features of the design, as well as the manufacturer’s stamping, we were able to determine that the set was indeed the older, original “Tiffany” pattern rather than newer “Beekman.”