If you’re thinking about buying or selling antique silver, there are some things you should consider before you jump right in. If you’ve never purchased antique silver before, you may not know all of the little tips and tricks there are to making sure you get the best deal. It doesn’t matter if you plan on becoming one of the many full-time antique silver buyers or if you’re simply looking to sell some silverware that you’ve inherited—knowing how to get the most out of your silver is important.
Get an Appraisal
You can learn about your silver pieces online and estimate what they’re worth, but having a professional antique silver appraisal is much easier. The professionals who do this will be able to give you an estimate for your specific pieces, taking into account damage and whether or not you have a complete set of silverware. It’s a good idea to get an appraisal even if you have an idea of what your items are worth.
Are You Attached to the Pieces?
Before you decide on if you want to sell your silverware or not, decide if you have any sentimental attachment to it. There’s no reason to sell it if you have any kind of sentimental attachment. Even if you don’t, would someone else in your family want it? Silverware is very durable, and many families do pass down full sets of it. Make sure no one would want your collection before you sell it, especially if you sell it to a smelter who is going to melt it down.
Is It Sterling?
One of the things many antique buyers are going to want to know up front is if the pieces you’re selling are sterling. Look on the back of the flatware for “sterling” or “ster.” This indicates that the silverware is at least 92.5% silver. It may even have 925 on it to indicate that it’s 925 out of 1,000 parts silver. Anything that’s silver-plated isn’t going to be worth nearly as much. If you see “coin” stamped on your silverware, that means it was created by melting down silver coins. It’s more likely to be about 90% silver. It won’t be worth quite as much as sterling silver.
Are the Pieces Historic?
An antique silver dealer will pay much more for older pieces that are rarely found on the market. Do some research into the pieces you have to make sure they’re not rare or hard to come by. Those that are can be sold for more than most other pieces. You’ll definitely not want to sell these items to smelters since they have some historic value.
Before you buy or sell any silver pieces, go online and see what the items are selling for. You may find that you have a rare replacement piece that someone needs to complete their set or that you have a pattern that is fairly popular. On the other hand, you might find that what you have to sell isn’t really worth that much. Either way, it’s important to know what you have or what you’re thinking about buying before you do so.