Chinese/Thai Ice Bucket Failed Authentication Tests

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MGArgent
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Location: Canada

Chinese/Thai Ice Bucket Failed Authentication Tests

Postby MGArgent » Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:31 pm

Hi Forum,

I recently purchased an item through an online auction and found that it was not actually silver so I wanted to remind members/guests of some helpful non-destructive methods that can be useful for authenticating silver items from home.

The item I purchased was a Chinese/Thai champagne ice bucket which was described as having been acid tested as 0.800+ silver. The item's cartouches were engraved in Thai, while the marks on the bottom were in Chinese characters.

The item was marked with the characters 足銀 which translates to "pure silver" and will usually indicate a genuine silver piece.

Immediately after receiving the item there were some initial indications that the item was not silver:

  1. "Pinging" the item resulted in a dull/tin thud instead of a high pitch ring/resonating sound expected from silver
  2. The dirt/tarnish on the item did not produce an acrid smell that typically emanates from tarnished silver
The bucket was then subjected to the following authentication tests:

  1. Specific Gravity Test
    • The bucket's specific gravity measured approximately 9.0-9.2
    • Genuine 0.800 silver should have a specific gravity of approximately 10.0-10.2
  2. Sliding Magnet Test
    • Sliding a magnet across genuine silver will induce a counter-acting force that will oppose the magnet's motion and slow it down
    • The bucket did not produce a counter-acting force and the magnet slid rapidly down its surface. This was very apparent when comparing side-by-side with 0.925 and 0.826 silver pieces

One caveat is that the sliding magnet test may not be effective in differentiating from silver-plated copper because copper will also produce a similarly strong counter-acting force that opposes the magnet's motion.

Running these test helped to confirm that the item was not actually silver and allowed me to receive a full refund for the purchase/shipping costs. Hopefully someone else may find this information useful.

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MGArgent
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Posts: 117
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:25 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Chinese/Thai Ice Bucket Failed Authentication Tests

Postby MGArgent » Thu Oct 15, 2020 12:24 am

Here is a really quick video showing the sliding magnet test on the champagne ice bucket: https://youtu.be/FbJKi17KK-Q

The items in order of being tested are:

1) US Reed & Barton Sterling X959R Windsor Bread Tray - 92.5% sterling silver
2) Danish Carl M. Cohr 1954 Sauce Pot - 82.6% silver
3) Chinese/Thai Champagne Ice Bucket marked 足銀 (pure silver) - not silver

dognose
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Re: Chinese/Thai Ice Bucket Failed Authentication Tests

Postby dognose » Thu Oct 15, 2020 2:53 am

Hi,

This is very interesting, thanks for sharing.

Trev.

Ag999
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Re: Chinese/Thai Ice Bucket Failed Authentication Tests

Postby Ag999 » Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:28 pm

Hi, MGA,
I have lots of experience with Thai silver fakes, even old well-marked pieces. Sometimes testing even shows that, on a bowl for example, the bottom, the sides and the rim are different metals, such as a good grade silver, low grade silver, and nickel silver or other tin alloys all on the same piece. (Don’t ask me how they joined the sections together, because I have no idea.)

I’ve never used your testing methods. I always use the silver testing acid and a scratch stone (which means you don’t need to drop the acid directly on to the item being tested). A red result, or dark red, or even brownish red all mean the piece is somewhere between 90-100 percent silver, maybe even slightly lower, like 85%. That’s as close as it’s going to be. Also, I suggest you always do that test side by side with a known sterling silver item. And use a very bright flashlight or direct sun to examine the resulting color.

Also, contrary to what you mentioned, in my experience real silver often has a somewhat “dull thud” compared to the “ringyness” of brass.

I think it’s possible, only possible, that you returned quite a nice silver item.

Btw, if you upload a clear photo of the Thai writing in the cartouche, I may be able to translate it for you, or at least some part of it.

MGArgent
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Location: Canada

Re: Chinese/Thai Ice Bucket Failed Authentication Tests

Postby MGArgent » Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:04 pm

Hi AG999,

That is really interesting! I did not know that Thai pieces can be assembled using varying grades of silver and even other materials and I would hate to think that I returned this if it was silver!

I know many people are hesitant to click on external links, but if you view the YouTube video I posted showing the sliding magnet test, I think it will convince you that at least the bottom portion of the bucket cannot be silver. I also ran the magnet over smooth(ish) surfaces on the sides of the bucket (such as the cartouche) and obtained the same result.

Although I don't know Thai, I did have a shot at translating the inscription and the best I ended up with was:

"ทีระลึก, จาก ดถเะเทค์มนตรี, และ, พนัก งานเทศบาล, เมือง อุตตว่ดิด ถ์, 19กค95"

which google translated to something like:

"Gift, from Dat Thet Montri, and, Municipal office staff, Uttaradit city, 19 July 95"

or if I changed a few letters:

"Commemoration of the appointment of the alderman of Uttaradit Municipality 19 July 95"

The inscriptions on the two cartouches are slightly different:

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Ag999
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Re: Chinese/Thai Ice Bucket Failed Authentication Tests

Postby Ag999 » Fri Nov 20, 2020 12:12 am

You did a great job on the translation! Did most of my work for me. I see the two as saying the same thing, though arranged slightly differently, and with one misspelling. Strange that they would repeat the same message.

ทีระลึก (commonly) keepsake, souvenir, or gift
จาก from
คณะเทศมนตรื (kana tesamontri) Municipal Council
และ and
พนักงานเทศบาล (panak ngan thesaban) Municipal Staff (พนักงาน staff, เทศบาล municipal)
เมือง อุตตรดิตถ์ Uttaradit provincial capital city

The first spelling of Uttaradit is misspelled. Look at the final letter – อุตตรดิต or อุตตรดิต - Either way it’s wrong.
The second one spells Uttaradit correctly – อุตตรดิตถ์ (เมือง อุตตรดิตถ์ is the provincial capital city, while the province itself would be จังหวัด อุตตรดิตถ์)

And then July (ก.ค. or กรกฎาคม) 19, but I’m going to say, judging by the overall appearance of the piece, that the year “95” refers to the Thai calendar, where 2495 was our 1952 (rather than July 19, 1995) Also, the maker’s marks and the writing style of the inscription look more like the 1950s than the 1990s.

You obviously have some experience with the language, or at least a good knack for languages and for noticing very small details. One thing to keep in mind though is that there are several “invisible” (unwritten) vowels in amongst the Thai consonants in those words. 44 consonants and 32 vowels in that language, but sometimes the vowels are not there!

So: “A gift from the Municipal Council and Municipal Staff of Uttaradit City - July 19, 1952”

Thanks for making me practice my Thai. I've been back in the States for many years now.

MGArgent
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Posts: 117
Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2020 1:25 pm
Location: Canada

Re: Chinese/Thai Ice Bucket Failed Authentication Tests

Postby MGArgent » Mon Nov 23, 2020 1:12 pm

Ag999, you've made my day!

I spent so much time studying these characters while trying to type them out using a virtual Thai keyboard I found online but I was never really sure if it was close to being correct. After returning the bucket I stopped pursuing the translation and thought I would never really be sure what was inscribed so it is very satisfying to have some light shed on this mystery.

I had some doubt that this bucket was made as recently as 1995 but it never occurred to me was that it was referencing the Thai calendar.

This is great, thanks again!


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