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Authenticity. Some collectors frown upon pieces that have been updated, such as replaced knife blades. Silverplated blades are often found with wear. They can easily be replaced on hollow handle knives and some prefer to have them replaced with stainless steel blades. However, stainless steel was not introduced until early 1920s. This is one of those areas which is a matter of personal collecting preference.
Repair. Dents, disposal or other damage can be repaired by a silversmith. Pieces can also be replated. The cost is prohibitive for easily-found pieces but is worthwhile and economically feasible for rare pieces.
Modified Items. Be aware that these exist and learn how to determine if a piece has been modified from its original state. Common flatware pieces are sometimes altered to make them appear to be rare or more valuable pieces. For example, spoons are sometimes cut to resemble ice cream forks. A sugar spoon may have been pierced to resemble a sugar sifter. Avoid purchasing modified pieces for your collection.
Forgeries. New forgeries in popular and rare patterns appear regularly for sale on internet. In particular, salt spoons and rare pieces such as asparagus servers. Many of these pieces have no maker's marks and some have been recently reproduced. Further, forged maker's marks in silver have appeared for hundreds of years. The age of a piece does not necessarily indicate it's authenticity.
Educate Yourself. Many good silver books are available in collecting section of your local book store or library.
Kathleen Sullivan, owner of Bay-dreamer's Antique Silver Chest at http://www.baydreamersilver.com specializes in sterling silver and silverplate replacement flatware, with a focus on obsolete serving pieces.