- Sterling flatware should be considered a family heirloom to be passed from generation to generation. In today's fast-paced world, we have lost our connections to our family histories. Using inherited sterling flatware on a special occasion will remind us of grandma and how she used to fuss over her flatware. That will trigger further wonderful memories of cherished times past. Your grandchildren deserve the same opportunity.
- You will not receive what you think it is worth. For proof of this, contact one or two of the largest providers of replacement sterling flatware and ask for a quote to purchase your sterling. We have seen such quotes and prices frequently are 10 to 20 per cent of the retail price. For example, we recently saw a quote for Gorham Chantilly from a large replacement dealer. They were willing to pay $6.00 for a luncheon knife in excellent condition!
Now, if you still want to sell, how do you do it?
- You probably will receive the best price by selling to another individual who will want your flatware for personal use. Start with free advertising options such as http://www.craigslist.com/. Include some nice, closeup pictures of sample pieces you have for sale. Be realistic with your asking price. Trying to get anywhere near retail price is very unrealistic, even if your pieces are unused and still in their original wrappers.
- Consider eBay. Be aware that you will have to pay eBay a fee. Also, in October, 2008, eBay changed their rules so that electronic payment such as through PayPal is the only way a seller can receive payment. And, if you don't regularly sell through eBay, you will not have a high feedback score. Buyers are willing to pay more to sellers with high positive scores. Finally, if you use the eBay auction format, you run the risk of receiving a low bid price.
- Sell to a dealer who specializes in sterling flatware. You can search the web for such businesses. You can also look for sellers who sell at lot of sterling on eBay. In larger cities, there may be stores who buy sterling flatware. Get quotes from two or three such dealers. Our business, Georgia Silver, is in this category.
- Sell to a scrap dealer.
- In the right column of this blog, enter "selling silver" in the Sterling Silver Web Search box and click the "Search" button.
- A new window will appear. Click on the ads you see at the top and on the right side of the new window Generally, these ad clicks will take you to people who buy scrap silver.
Here are issues that will affect the price you receive.
- Condition - Used pieces are expected to have minor scratches and tiny "dings" from use. Anything worse than this will cause the value to fall significantly.
- Pattern - Some patterns have higher values than others.
- Specific piece - A fork is worth more than a teaspoon. A dinner fork is worth more than a luncheon fork. Knives often have low values.
- Set vs. individual pieces - Often a complete set with some serving pieces will bring the highest price on a per piece basis.
- Rarity - Some patterns, and some pieces within a particular pattern, may be rare. The price could be higher. On the other hand, the pattern may be rare because no one liked it!
- Monograms or other custom engraving - These will reduce the market value by a substantial amount.
Notice that the current price of raw silver is not on the list. See our earlier post regarding this subject.
One word of warning is appropriate here. If you advertise to sell, you may receive responses from unscrupulous people. Be wary of unusual payment methods and shipping to remote locations unless you can verify the identity of, and trust, the buyer. Bank certified checks can be forged and Western Union payment is a red flag.
Obviously, we may be accused on being biased on this subject since we buy and sell sterling flatware. So, look for advice from other sources to confirm what we have said.
If you have a question or comment, feel free to add a comment to this post or email us. If you click on "View my complete profile" in the sidebar on the right of the screen, you will see an "email" link.
One footnote is appropriate. When we buy sterling, we prefer that the seller NOT attempt to polish it. We prefer to polish it ourselves using our approved methods. See our earlier post regarding tarnish.
See also our post, "Finding Buyers for Your Sterling Flatware".
By clicking on "Comments/Questions" below, you can see posted comments and add your own questions and comments. Or, you can send us an email by clicking on "View My Complete Profile" in the right column.