Q: My very shiny hammered aluminum platter is 16 1/2 inches in diameter and looks like it is made of silver. It has four egg-shaped indentations that could hold a small ostrich egg. The bowl-like center is set with multicolored tiles held in place by rivets. On the bottom is a triangular mark made up of the words “Cellini Craft, Argental, Handwrought.” In the center of the triangle are the letters “MW.” How old is it and what was it used for? Some auctions describe similar dishes as “trays,” but I think there must be a reason for the tiles and the indentations.
A: Cellini Craft made aluminum serving pieces from 1934 to 1966. Argental translates to “silver-like.” The aluminum was hand-hammered. We have looked at hundreds of aluminum trays and have found no catalog that explains a platter like yours. It is listed in catalogs as either a tray or an undertray. An undertray held a glass or covered aluminum bowl that could have served soup, stew or some other juicy food. The indentations may have been designed to catch drippings. Only one or two other aluminum manufacturers made trays that included a ceramic piece in the center. It may have kept the tray from getting too hot or it may just have been a decoration. Aluminum regained popularity for a brief time in the 1990s. Prices went up as collectors searched for wares from the 1950s and ’60s. Trays the size of yours with a tile insert retail for $150 to $350, even though most hammered aluminum has dropped in price over the past 15 years.