Q: I have a silver "mate" server with matching silver sipper tube that my father brought back from Chile in the early 1900s. He said the gauchos always carried them with them for their daily mate tea breaks. My father was chief surgeon at the huge open pit copper mine at Chuquicamata, Chile, and attended to the injuries the miners incurred and also patched up the locals who would get into knife fights. Is this a valuable collectible?
A: Mate (mah-tay) is a traditional South American drink made from dried yerba mate leaves. It is made by steeping the leaves in hot water. It is typically made in a hollowed-out calabash gourd, called a "mate." The sipper, known as a "bombilla" in Spanish, is usually made of silver, although modern sippers are also made of stainless steel and other materials. The bulbous end of the sipper has holes that strain leaves from the drink. In the United States there is little demand for mate, so the serving set is worth only about $100 to $150.