Personal Effects, Oct. 21

Published 4:53 pm Saturday, October 21, 2017


Question: Jerry, is this what I think it is? I’ve been going through some things to sell and I found these. Are they swizzle sticks? Why are they so small? Are they early? The silver one is marked sterling but the gold one must be gold filled. What should they sell for? Thanks for the articles. I love them.

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Answer: You are indeed right — they are swizzle sticks. They were meant to stir a drink. In this case, I think that being as fine as they are they were meant to break up the bubbles in a glass of champagne. I know, today we’re all about the bubbles, but at the turn of the last century, there was an odd habit for people to stir or break up the bubbles in a glass of bubbly. No fun in that! Of course, it could just have been as easily used to stir a newfangled cocktail. Cocktail is a keyword here.
They’re small because they hung off of a man’s watch chain or off of a lady’s handbag. Handbag as in the kind that held a rouge pot, lipstick and some mad money, a tiny but elegant affair.
I think that these swizzle sticks date back to the early 1900s to the opening of the flapper era. Cocktails had been served, in some form for centuries, but the cocktail culture really came into its own in the 1920s, just think of Jay Gatsby.
Anything pertaining to alcohol and the cocktail and any small personal items like these are very collectible. They are easy to display and use if you want. Value is going to be dependent upon the material and the maker, if known.
I’m pretty sure that you’re right, that one is sterling and the other is gold plate. Frankly, I’ve only seen a few that were marked with a retail or jewelry store. I would wager that you’d see examples like yours at a good antiques show priced at about $100 – $125 for sterling examples and $75 – $100 for gold filled pieces. Solid gold will be another story.
Thanks for sharing them with us.