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What is sterling silver and how do I know the piece I am buying is sterling?

Sterling silver contains 925 parts of pure silver to 75 parts copper.  Look for the lion passant, which is the part of the hallmark that denotes it is British sterling silver and is a guarantee of its purity.  Of course, all Langfords’ new products carry a hallmark.  For more details go to Understanding Hallmarks.

What is a hallmark?

A system of marks impressed on silver or gold items by an assay office with the purpose of establishing its purity. In Britain, the hallmark consists of the assay mark (eg the lion passant for .925 pure sterling silver) and other symbols denoting the place of assay, date and maker. With its comprehensive records, the system helps the public to identify items and guard against forgeries. Established at the end of the 14th century, it is the one of the world's oldest and most stringent quality control systems.   For more detail go to Understanding Hallmarks.

Can the pieces we have bought be engraved in time for an event we are planning?

Most engraving work takes between one and seven days, depending on the quantity and complexity of the design.  It is always wise to check with us first.
How long will it take to receive my gifts?If the item is in stock it will be sent, fully insured, within 24 hours of receiving your order. For specially made pieces, we will advise you of the delivery date at the time of ordering.

Can you gift-wrap the pieces for me?

Every piece you buy will be supplied in Langfords' stylish and distinctive packaging. Alternatively, if you would like your gifts wrapped according to your personal specification or according to your company's corporate identity, please contact us for details.

How can I be confident when buying from Langfords?

The Langford family has been trading as a family-owned and run antique silver business for more than 85 years. Every piece that we sell has been inspected and selected by Adam or Joel Langford.

Does the piece come with a guarantee?

As members of the London & Provincial Antiques Dealers Association (LAPADA) and The London Silver Vaults, all our pieces are guaranteed to be as described plus you have the confidence of knowing that you are protected by the UK’s largest antiques trade association.

I'd like to have a piece of silver specially commissioned.  How do I go about doing that?

We believe we can make almost anything in silver.  Whatever you are commissioning, Langfords follows a simple step-by-step process to make commissioning bespoke items simple. Just get in touch to discuss your ideas.

Is there a discount for bulk purchases?

We aim to give all our customers excellent value for money and our pricing policy is transparent. Volume discounts are available for all Langfords’ customers and the rates vary depending on the size of the order. Please contact us for details.

Where can I see your silver "in real life"?

If you want to see, touch or feel any of the products on our website we have a shop in Chancery Lane, London.  We are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm and on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm. If you are in London we can visit your office or home with a selection of items to match your brief.

Can you ship my purchases abroad?

We can deliver your Langfords goods anywhere in the world. Depending on where they are being sent, shipping, insurance and delivery costs for your goods will be confirmed before you place your order.

I don't have time to search for gifts and visit your shop. Is this something you can handle for me if I give you my budget and instructions?

When we receive your brief and budget guideline, Langfords can handle every aspect of the gift selection, packaging and delivery on your behalf.

How do I keep silver looking good?

The best way to care for silver is to use it often and clean it only occasionally. We provide advice on care and cleaning of your silver and other precious or delicate materials. For large models, trophies and centrepieces that need to be on display for long periods - and especially those with intricate decoration and detail - it is worth considering lacquering to keep them looking bright without polishing.

I need large numbers of items for a corporate event/incentive scheme. Can you help me?

Yes, we have a wealth of experience in providing ready-made or bespoke items with prices starting at £75. Please send us your brief or get in touch if you would like to discuss.

We need a really prestigious trophy for a corporate event that we are hosting. How can we find the right piece?

We stock one of the finest and largest collections of antique trophies and centrepieces and a small selection are shown on our website. Langfords also has a selection of new trophies and presentation gifts but if you don't see what you need please contact us for more designs and patterns. Alternatively, we can work with you to devise, design and produce a unique piece to suit your exact requirements.

If we buy gifts from you can they be personalised? And will it be expensive?

All our gifts can be personalised and we can produce personalised gift packaging too. The cost is clearly dependent on the quantity and complexity of the work so we can give you a quotation when we know the details of your order.

Do you only sell antique silver?

We sell beautiful silver from all eras – spanning more than 300 years (1700 to the present day).  Antique generally refers to items that are more than one hundred years old.  We also sponsor good contemporary silver design from Britain, Italy, Denmark and Germany.  In addition, Langfords specialises in designing and creating bespoke pieces to suit customers’ exact requirements.  Anything from an intimate personal gift to prestigious models and sports trophies.

Can I set up a wedding list at Langfords?

Of course. Langfords is a family-run company and our service is always very personal. We are a popular choice for wedding lists because we sell both antique and contemporary silver for every occasion.  In addition, we can provide quality crystal and porcelain from most of the top manufacturers. Once you have selected the items for your list, we create a personal page on our website that your friends and family can access and buy online.  Alternatively your guests can buy Langfords vouchers online which can be redeemed against any items in our shop.  For convenience, all gifts are delivered to you once your list is closed.  Please call or email us in the first instance for a copy of our guide to arranging a wedding list.

How do I care for the tortoiseshell on my silver box?

Tortoiseshell and horn pieces lose their lustre with age, especially is they have been left in direct sunlight. They can be revived with a mixture of one teaspoon of Goddard’s silver cleaning foam and a few drops of olive oil.  Work the paste into the surface with a cloth and leave for 15 minutes then wipe off.  Finally, apply a little neat olive oil, leave for a few minutes and then buff to a high shine.  We provide advice on care and cleaning of your tortoiseshell, silver and other precious or delicate materials.

How do I care for the ivory or mother-of-pearl handles on my fish servers?

Like bone, do not immerse the handles in water and never wash in a dishwasher.  If mother-of-pearl or ivory has lost its lustre through incorrect cleaning, seek professional help from a jeweller or cutlery.  For more details visit Care & Cleaning.

Can I put my silver cutlery in the dishwasher?

Most silver cutlery can be washed in the dishwasher.  However, never put bone, ivory or mother-of-pearl handled pieces into the dishwasher.  Please see Care & Cleaning for detailed cleaning instructions.

My Victorian wine jug has got very dirty inside. How do I clean the crystal?

Rinse decanters, carafes or vases immediately after use.  For stubborn stains, occasionally put a false teeth cleaning tablet in the bottom and fill up with tepid water before rinsing and storing.  For more details visit Care & Cleaning.

Does silver gilt need special cleaning?

Gilding greatly reduces the need for cleaning and polishing and so reduces the risk of damage.  Care for gilded pieces with an occasional wash in warm soapy water followed by rinsing and drying.  If the piece is not intricate, and to ensure the gilt is not rubbed off, polish only occasionally and very lightly with a chamois leather to retain shine.

What is my silver worth?

Each silver piece is individual and its value is reliant on a number of factors, including the maker, its age, quality and desirability.  In the first instance we would recommend that you send clear photos of the piece(s) including a photo of the hallmarks and details of any damage.  Call or email us so that we can provide recommendations.

My silver is badly damaged. Is it worth repairing?

As for valuing silver, it is worth understanding more about your pieces before you decide whether or not to repair it. Its value will rely on a number of factors such as the maker, its age, quality and desirability.  In the first instance we would suggest that you send clear photos of the piece(s) showing the damage and including a photo of the hallmarks.  Call or email us so that, taking into account what damage has occurred, we can advise next actions.

Is it better to buy new or old silver?

It depends on your reason for buying silver.  In general you should buy items in the design of the period in which they were made rather than imitations or copies.  If you buy silver to use then pieces from certain periods were made in heavier gauge metal than in other times and are therefore more durable.  Workmanship tends to be much better prior to the 20th century because labour was less costly and millions of pounds had been spent on tooling, machinery and dies to create silverware for the rich and aspiring middle class.  Having said that, there are many exceptions to the rule and during the 20th century there were periods of extreme activity in designing and creating 'modern' silverware that reflected the age in which they were created.  This creativity continues today although it is much more the work of individual silversmiths rather than large business concerns.

Is Sterling silver the best quality in the world?

Although there are slightly higher and lower grades used to produce silverware around the world, the Sterling silver standard (.925) has proven to be the best.  It is the optimum standard that most countries have now migrated to because it combines both malleability and durability.  Purer grades of silver wear too quickly and harder grades give an inferior dull colour and cannot be worked into the same fine forms.

My cutlery set has no knives. Where can I get replacements?

Most knives in antique canteens have not survived. They were originally made with steel blades (not stainless) which deteriorated over time and the blade was set into the silver handle with pitch which also decayed.  Replacement knives are often needed therefore to complete antique cutlery sets and Langfords can substitute new knives (with stainless steel blades) for most cutlery patterns.  Contact us with the name or a photo of your cutlery pattern and we can give you a quotation.

Can you match my rare cutlery pattern?

Yes. We feature a selection of cutlery patterns on our website but have access to a more extensive range - antique and new - and can match most of them.  Contact us with the name or a photo of your cutlery pattern and we can give you a quotation.