Silver Heirlooms Left in the Trash?

A woman named Jean Bunker is searching for the descendents of a man who owned this silver. He was from Fork Union, Virginia, which isn't too far from Charlottesville. Read on and maybe you can help track down the family!


Yesterday as I was entering the parking garage for my office on 19th and L in NW DC, I found a bin next to the trash can, clearly meant to be discarded. In it was a bunch of very tarnished, and in some cases broken or corroded, silver. However, I could see that some of the pieces could be very nice. I took the bin home – it was a mess!! (The stink in my car from the mildew on a 90-min drive…oh my!)

My husband spent some time cleaning it up. In the process, he noticed that there appeared to be a social security number engraved on the bottom of the silver. Robert Bunker, you should know, would do NSA proud. He’s quite good at sleuthing.

He looked up the number. According to the 1940 US Census, the silver once belonged to Howard L. Lane, an African-American gentleman who was born July 1, 1926 and died on July 31, 1993. He was born in Fork Union, Va. Howard siblings were Joseph, Dorothy May, and Junius. They were raised by Tom and Eula Wells in Fork Union, Va.

The image attached is of the silver, now cleaned. It is not sterling, but silver plate. That said, it still holds significant dollar value. More than that is the sentimental value of the silver belonging to a person who lived through the Depression and served in the armed forces in WWII. Given that he went to the trouble to etch a personal identifier on the silver, we surmise that this represented special personal treasure for him. We cannot help but wonder about the circumstances of these items ending up in a trash bin in a parking garage on 19th and L in DC.

The pieces are lovely and they look fabulous on our dining room table right now. But we’d want to see them restored if there are Lane family members who would treasure these items. I’m sharing the information in the hopes that we can reunite this silver with one of Howard’s loved ones. (Totally should have taken a “before” photo – you would never believe it was the same.)


 Head to Facebook if you want to contact Jean.

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