Reed & Barton is an established American company that makes high quality tableware. Dating back to 1824, this company is one of the oldest silversmiths in the United States. The company was originally started by Isaac Babbitt who used pewter, as it was readily available in the 1800s. He then joined in partnership with William Crossman. For the next few years they produced traditional pewter Britannia style tableware. The company continued to hire associates, including Henry Reed and Charles Barton. These two would buy the company in 1834 thus naming the company as we know of it today, Reed & Barton. Starting in 1859, the company turned from pewter to sterling silver.
Antique Reed & Barton Silver silverware is highly sought after currently. Perhaps one of the most interesting mark of their antique silver is the piercing of hidden words. Piercing involves intricate work of cutting out shapes in the silver, instead of engraving which is simply etching in the words. In the 1800s Reed & Barton made three different patterns that contain the work of piercing. La Reine was produced in 1893, La Marquise was produced in 1895 and La Touraine in 1895. The piercings are very complex and stylized, it may be a bit difficult to find the word at first.
Another way to distinguish antique Reed & Barton silverware from others is the stamp and hallmark in some cases. Most silver will have the words 'Reed & Barton' on them, there are a few different styles of this stamp. It may also have an 'R' inside a shield shape with pictures of birds on either side of it. If the silver was produced before 1928 or after 1957, they will carry one of these marks. Silver produced between 1928 and 1957 feature a different symbol for each year. There are numerous guides that show the different symbols that corresponded to each year. From an elephant to a trumpet, each year showcases a different symbol.
Reed & Barton made numerous popular antique patterns. The Florentine Lace, produced in 1951, features a intricate lace piercing design. This is usually found in four or five piece settings. The French Renaissance, produced in 1941, showcases raised scrolls and engraved carving. Perhaps the most famous pattern is the Love Disarmed produced in 1899. It features a woman holding a bow in one arm and hiding arrows in the other. She is flanked by Cupid, the symbol of love. It also features poppy blossoms, vines and leaves. It is rare to find the entire set, however collectors can find pieces of individual silver.
Reed & Barton holds its' value due to the high quality silver that they use for production. Generally the heavier the piece, the more value. Thus the .950 line at Reed & Barton is the most expensive to collect. You can identify this by both the weight and the stamp which reads '.950/1000/FINE'.