Monday, December 13, 2010

S is for Silver

In 1837, Tiffany and Company was founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young as a stationery and 'fancy goods emporium' in New York City. Tiffany and Company's entry into the silverware business began in 1847 when the store retailed silver from several NY silversmiths, including the very talented John C. Moore. It was the increased demand for silver which lead Tiffany to open its own silversmith shop, with John Moore at its helm. Charles Tiffany took over as sole proprietor in 1853 and expanded the business by opening stores in major cities throughout the world. By 1855, despite the looming recession, Tiffany & Co. was recognized as the leading silverware house in NY. In 1867 it became the first US firm to win an award for Excellence in Silverware at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. John Moore was joined by his son Edward and together they catapulted Tiffany to world-wide fame. For well over 160 years the name Tiffany has been synonymous with 'beautiful objects of unsurpassed quality'. From sterling flatware, hollowware and jewelry, to stained glass windows and lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the name is recognized internationally as a trademark for beauty and elegance.

Dorothy, of Sterling Matching Service, is my guest for this week, as a knowledgeable source on silver and a professional extraordinaire......With one week into Happy 91, Dot! you are my inspiration.

1. How did you come into this business; from what background?

"I used to be in the Antique Business..until I couldn't carry the furniture anymore. I began buying at auctions, at the age of 17, with my mother who encouraged me to 'always buy the best'. A woman named Marge introduced me to the wholesale silver business which I very much enjoyed, in addition to other antiques. The silver part of the business began with my husband around 1975, when we started collecting early American silver from the late 1700's. I began searching for choice pieces myself and learned to identify top quality items. I am very particular and careful in my purchases.

2. Do you have a particular skill that serves you well?

"I have an eye for detail, pay attention at auctions, and learn from established dealers. It is important to be educated and selective. I got lists and lists from suppliers and I became knowledgeable on what to look for in an item of value. I am the type of person who is a perfectionist and wants to do things for myself. Quality of a piece is the most important part of it. Big businesses often overlook flaws. That is what sets me apart."

3. What were some major obstacles you had to resolve to forge ahead in your business?

"I have been a widow for more than twenty five years and it was difficult at times to transport everything by myself. From the tables, to the displays, to the silver as well as driving the van to and from shows (and sleeping in it!) - it was tough going as I got older. It was these obstacles that ultimately led me to the computer. It took a year or two, and I was up and running with my Silver Matching Service business. I had to learn to take all my digital photos, and carry on my business via the web. I find one of the most frustrating parts of it all is the paperwork, which never seems to end!"

4. Tell us a little bit about your education and how it contributed to your success as a business woman.

"I graduated from Middlebury College in 1942, with a B.A. in French. At the time, I was required to take a Political Science class which was so difficult I wished to drop it. Upon requesting of the Professor, I was promptly denied with 'Don't you suppose you will learn something, Dorothy?'. . That very professor wrote in a recommendation: 'Although not an A student, Dorothy is the type of individual who has such perseverance she will succeed in anything.' That one experience stayed with me and shaped me into the person I am today.

5. Describe yourself in six words or less.

"I am known for being determined and independent. I follow what I know to be true, with pricing objects, and in dealings with customers. I tend to not follow the pack and practice business etiquette with integrity.

6. What aspect do you enjoy most, and least, about your business?

"I love learning something new everyday. I enjoy going to shows, and finding choice pieces on e-bay. Packaging is my least favorite part of the business; there is not much to stimulate your thoughts!

8. What is your most treasured possession?

"I would have to say it is early Tiffany "English King"pattern (1900), service for 12! This set is special in that it came from one family, and even includes serving pieces. It could fetch $35,000 today. Tiffany's craftsmanship shows exquisitely and is truly a work of art.

Dorothy can be reached on line, at just in time for the holidays!

Through a very scientific and random process, the numbers were mixed and my hubby picked, and the winner of the 'Reason for the Season' Snow Globe is drrrruummmrollll please - KIM!(I hope to be the first to know.)
Please e-mail me your address/contact information. My wish is for peace and happiness to you and yours during this holiday season. Thanks for playing!


Christine E-E said...

what a beautiful, interesting story & interview... Dorothy seems so bright, spry and alert... she's 91 years young...

hope you'll play weekword - the word is CHRISTMAS - leave your intent to participate with Allie at

Carola Bartz said...

I got caught by the name Tiffany. When I went to New York for the very first time to spend ten days there with my future husband (who is also German but worked on an exchange program in Allentown,PA, and we met in NY for Easter) we went to Tiffany and looked at EVERYTHING, but I especially loved the earrings. One pair I really loved but there was no way I could afford it. A year later I gave birth to our daughter and another one or two months later my hubby went on a business trip to Allentown. On the weekend he went to NY and tried to find the earrings at Tiffany's that I fell in love with. They didn't have them anymore, but he found a different pair that was similar and bought it for me as my present for the birth of our daughter. I cherish them so very much, and when I read your post I remembered this lovely time in my life. Thank you for bringing it back to me.

Janie said...

Some of those pieces look like what my great grandmother had...I think there might be one or two in my mothers house still, but I am not sure..would Love some of them some day...

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