How much is your sterling silver flatware worth? This is a question that many have asked and I aim to answer in this guide. It is not as straightforward as it seems so you may want to relax for this read.
There are a few factors to consider when it comes to valuing silver flatware. This is because flatware is not usually as valuable as people may think. But don’t worry; it is not as intricate as calculus.
What Is Sterling Silver?
Sterling silver is silver that contains about 92.5% silver and 7.5% other additives. The additives are other metals, usually copper.
It is important for me to point out here that there is no silver flatware that is pure silver. None. This is because silver as a metal is highly malleable. So it is difficult to mold it into any solid object.
This is where the additives come in. They are meant to make the silver sturdy enough to be shaped into objects. And because of the high percentage of silver in sterling, it makes it the purest form of silver available.
Sterling silver usually lasts a long time. So if you have flatware made of sterling silver, you are sure to use it for more than 30 years. However, poor use and maintenance can mar the silver and make it age faster than it should.
If the sterling silver is made inside the USA after 1850, there is typically a mark to identify them. You may find 925/100 as the mark, indicating the percentage of silver contained in it.
Other possible markers are .925 and the word Sterling. If none of these markers don’t appear on the silver and it is made in the US, it is most likely not sterling silver. Sterling made outside the US may not carry these markers.
If you are eager to sell the flatware after finding out what it is worth, watch this video…
How to Value Sterling Silver Flatware
To accurately and properly value your sterling silver flatware, consider the type you have. Some flatwares have more value than others so all sterling silver flatware falls under different price categories.
For example, a canteen has a high value. You will see many people buying one because it reeks of sophistication. Others have it because it is just beautiful and practical to use.
Therefore, you find its value skyrocketing above other types of flatware.
Another consideration when it comes to valuing silver flatware is the number of people who can use it. The more, the merrier, right? How many people will benefit from the flatware?
If your silver flatware can serve, say, 16 people, it will be worth more than one that can serve 12 people. This is despite the fact that both flatwares are made of sterling silver.
Then, there is the pattern of the flatware. This is very intricate and can look daunting if you are new to this. However, it is important to know the pattern of your flatware because it greatly impacts the value.
I cannot overemphasize the importance of patterns on the worth of silver flatware. So let me show you those that can make your sterling flatware more valuable:
This silver flatware pattern is American style made by Reed and Barton. Getting its name from King Francis the 1st of France, the pattern comes with 15 varying fruit and flower design, even on the handles.
You will be able to identify this pattern by a lion and an eagle with a letter R. You can also identify it by the words Reed and Barton.
Wallace Silversmiths made this pattern and it took about 4 years to produce and perfect it. It reflects artistic progress, adventure and merriment. You will also find the pattern o hollowware, as the brand expanded with the success of the pattern.
Made by Towle, the inspiration for the pattern is the Crusades. It is quite unique, without monograms, and this makes it quite valuable. Its beauty separates it from other patterns that exist alongside it.
Stieff introduced this pattern in 1845 and got its name from the repousse art. To make it, the pattern is pressed through the item’s back. But then, the opposite side is not flat, as is common with such flatware. You cannot miss it if you have this silver flatware pattern.
You will find that this pattern, made by Lunt, comes in ornate handles and is pierced in 4 different places. This keeps the center, which is plain, isolated. Check your flatware to see if you recognize this pattern.
Other factors to consider valuing or selling sterling silver flatware are:
Price of Silver
That your flatware is made of sterling silver does not automatically make it valuable. The price of silver in the market at the time of your valuation also affects how much it will go for.
Therefore, weigh the silver flatware and convert the resultant weight to troy ounces. This will begin to give you an idea of what you are likely to get for it.
I know I said distinctive or unique markings can increase the value. But remember that the markings have to be of the brand or of something that actually draws value.
Monogramming your family initials or something of that nature into the flatware actually causes its value to plummet. Keep this in mind when going for valuation so you don’t get too disappointed.
While it is possible to get good money on single flatware pieces, you will get much more if you have complete sets.
For example, simple knives, forks and spoons can go fast in the market if they are of real sterling silver. But when you present a set complete with cocktail forks, demitasse spoons, barware and the likes, the worth jumps in leaps and bounds.
Therefore, if you have a complete set but only want to sell part of it, be aware that it may not fetch you much.
How to prepare your silver flatware for valuation
Now, there are few steps to take in order to prepare your silver flatware for valuation. They are:
Step 1. Clean the Silver
Cleaning the silver is the first thing you should do before it is valued. It is almost impossible to place the proper value on any item made of precious metal until it is clean. At least, as clean as it can get.
When you clean it, you will be able to expose any discoloration, dents and even unique markers. Some of these markers may even increase the worth of the silver.
So if you don’t clean it, they would stay hidden. It is also important you photograph such markers to avoid any mix-up during sales.
I’d like to let you know that as much as cleaning brightens the silver, it also makes every dent clear. And the more dents or discoloration there is, the less the value of the silver flatware.
Therefore, try as much as possible to protect the silver, especially if you plan to sell them.
You can clean your silver flatware yourself but take care not to overdo it. Yes, there is such a thing as over-cleaning silver.
Step 2. Take the Silver to an Auction House
After you clean the silver properly, the next step is to take it to a trusted auction house. There are events where auction houses invite people to come in with their items for identification and valuation.
During identification, the auction house you choose will be able to tell you what any unique hallmark or any other marker stands for. And with these, the house will be able to place a worth or value on the item you submit.
This is where the photographs you take come in handy. As much as you should have them for your own records, you should also take copies to the auction house.
Make sure they are clear, showing the markers without any smudge. Doing this will help place a value on the item faster than any other method.
However, be aware that you will pay a fee for this service. Therefore, if you are not keen on paying for it, you can use a site like eBay to know how much the silver item is worth.
Step 3. Check the Silver for Collectability
Apart from the silver’s condition and unique markers, you should also find out how collectible it is. You will be able to determine this by the name of the maker.
So if a popular name such as Hester Bateman or Paul Storr made the silver flatware, it goes from just being flatware to becoming a collectible. This is even if it has a few scratches and dents.
Watch this video to learn more about how much sterling silver flatware is worth:
To know how much your sterling silver flatware is worth, do the following:
- Clean it
- Take it to an auction house
- Find out how collectible it is
In addition to the above, answering these questions will set you on the right path to correctly valuing your silver flatware:
- What type is it?
- How many people will it serve?
- What pattern does it have? This is important.
- Are there markers or is it monogrammed?
- How many pieces are there?
- Is it a full set?
- What is the price of silver?
In the end, you may end up smiling to the bank. But whatever happens, sterling silver flatware definitely has its value. So even if you don’t find it worth much now, that may change soon.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments section.