How can I quickly sell a big box of silver and silver plated stuff?
September 10, 2017 10:45 AM   Subscribe

I have a big box of silver and silver plated stuff that I really need to deal with. I'm not looking for a windfall. What are my options?

When my mom moved into a board and care I took in all her stuff. This collection is one of the last things I need to deal with. I don't have the spoons to do a ton of research or eBay/etsy and I really need the room. But I know it's worth something. I'll take it.

It's mostly decorative items, a few pieces of silver jewelry, and also three sets of flatware. (One set is in it's own storage box.) Some things, like the jewelry, napkin rings, a large candy dish, and some serving pieces are definitely marked .925; I assume everything else is plated. I've done some basic due diligence and nothing is immediately identifiable as valuable.

There is a reputable coin/gold dealer buyer nearby, but I've never sold something having zero idea how much it's worth. Can I just take if there and hope I'll get the low end of not being totally ripped off? (Will they even want it?) Or does anyone have a ballpark I could list it for on Craigslist?

I could really use a little extra cash, and it would mean a lot psychologically to finally get rid of it.

Oh, it's all at least 60 years old, and lots of stuff is European, if that matters.
posted by Room 641-A to Grab Bag (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I'd try the coin dealer first. We dealt with a reputable one in the Seattle area after my father in law's passing a few years ago. We had a lot more valuable stuff than you, but they were fair and thorough and if you don't want to sell, you can just walk away.
posted by lhauser at 10:57 AM on September 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

My understanding of coin/gold dealers is that even reputable ones will usually just give you cash based on the value of the precious metals - which might be all you care about, but "it's all at least 60 years old, and lots of stuff is European" suggests at least the possibility that some of it could be worth more as actual items, to collectors or just people who like old silver decorative pieces/jewelry/flatware.

Try taking the box in for appraisal to an estate sale/fine arts auction house. If the location in your profile is correct, you should have a bunch fairly close, including some big names like Sotheby's and Christie's. The appraisal shouldn't cost anything (especially if you schlep it to the office yourself), and then AFAIK if they agree that the stuff is worth putting up for auction you just leave it with them on consignment, sign a little paperwork, they offer it at their next auction, and you get the sale price minus a percentage they keep.
posted by soundguy99 at 11:08 AM on September 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: will buy the silverware - if you know the manufacturer and pattern names it might be a quicker process, but you don't even need that. They are very helpful and will pay a fair (but not best market value) price
posted by Mchelly at 11:12 AM on September 10, 2017 [5 favorites]

you can get as sense of what the flatware might be worth at Note that is the retail price, not what they will buy it for.
posted by metahawk at 11:15 AM on September 10, 2017 [3 favorites]

Send pictures to Replacements and they will give you a preliminary estimate. Sell to Us link
posted by catlet at 12:09 PM on September 10, 2017 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I work part time for a friend that has a precious metals shop, and we deal with stuff like this all the time. Plated things are not worth sending to a refiner, so we do not buy them. We buy sterling and coin silver, sometimes lower percentage silver if it's marked on the set so we know to keep it out of the sterling melt. There is not really much of a market for old silver pieces: people who want a set want to choose their own pattern and buy new. We often buy silverware from antique shops and estate dealers because they know no one will buy it, generally speaking.

We pay 70% of the spot price, which works out to 30-37 cents per gram lately for .925. Unfortunately silver jewelry is not very rewarding, other than the satisfaction of having dealt with it in an environmentally responsible way (precious metal mining is horrible for the environment) because it's so light. However it's melted and goes to a refiner to make other silver products, and that's a good thing. Jewelry retail prices are usually much, much higher than the price of the metals and that cost is rarely recouped. However a nice set of sterling silverware is usually worth the effort to take to a metals shop. Keep in mind that knife blades won't be silver, and weighted items such as candlesticks and carving knives are often full of plaster, putty, or glue, which will be deducted from the weight.

Remember, you don't have to take anyone's offer, they should be able to tell you how they calculate their prices, and it will take some time to go through the items and weigh them. You can help by sorting out the sterling and keeping the same pattern together. Some European things may not say .925, but will have other identifying hallmarks, like the lion passant of British sterling. Often when we get customers with silver they show up with a bunch of boxes and rolls of stuff (including random garbage) and it takes quite some time to go through it all.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:09 PM on September 10, 2017 [6 favorites]

Purely because my late mum was in the antique trade in London, I know there are specialist silver antique dealers, who should give you a better price than someone just buying it for the metal. Try googling for silver antiques in your locality.
posted by w0mbat at 11:23 AM on September 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for the answers. Per all the advice I'm going to re-sort everything and figure out the best way to deal with everything. I marked Mchelly best because I didn't know Replacements would ID the pattern, and that checks off a few other things, and I marked oneirodynia for reminding me that people do this every day and there's nothing I really need to stress about.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:17 PM on September 21, 2017

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