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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Do I Sell My Sterling Flatware?

First of all, we're going to try to convince you not to sell it. Here's why:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?

  1. 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 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


Anonymous said...

I have sterling that was a wedding gift - It is not my style although it is beautiful. It is still in the original packages and I would like to sell it. How do I go about getting a quote for the set?

Silver Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Silver Jim said...

I will address the question posed in the first comment attached to this post. Keep in mind that I am speaking only for Georgia Silver. Other potential buyers may have other thoughts. We will be glad to post their comments also.

Rachel has already provided one key bit of information - condition. Here's what else is needed:

- What are the specific pieces being offered?
- What are the lengths of the dinner forks, dinner knives and salad forks (to the nearest 1/8 inch)?
- What is the pattern (if not known, a closeup picture of the front and back of a teaspoon will help)?

Provide this information to us by clicking on View My Complete Profile (this link is on the blog home page in the right-hand column). You will then see an email link for us. Email the information to us.

We will then respond to Rachel's email by our own email with a quote included.

Thanks, Rachel, for the question!

Unknown said...

I have a set of William f Rogers pattern First Love, I want to sell it, any advice.

Silver Jim said...

This is a response to Marti's comment.

I believe this pattern is silver plate. If I am correct, I recommend trying first to see what kind of action you get. Include some pictures.

Unfortunately, there is not a great market for used silver plate flatware, so you may have to relist it a few times since craigslist ads tend to be come "stale" after a couple of weeks.

Search other ads in your area on craigslist to see what other folks have asked for silver plate sets.

Sorry I could not be more encouraging. Click on "Silver Plate" under "Labels" in the right column to see other posts specifically related to silver plate.

Anonymous said...

I am trying to figure out how to buy scrap silver on Ebay or at auctions/estate sales if I can find them. I sure hope you can help me.

The main question I have is: When considering an item, how do I calculate how much I can sell it for at the current rate, currently $20.44? I recently sold 10 ounces/291 grams of my old sterling flatware for $150. That is $15 per ounce/.52 per gram. (Thats what got me interested in doing this.) So when looking at an ad should I just multiply the item's ounces by $15 or the grams by $.52? A friend's calculation is to multiply the item's grams by $.60, the Troy ounce rate.

Does Georgia Silver have a location in Los Angeles County or Orange County where they buy scrap silver?

Silver Jim said...

This is in response to the previous comment:

Here is an article that talks about calculating scrap value: .

It looks to me like you were able sell your sterling flatware for more than its scrap value. Sterling is only 92.5% silver.

Here's how I calculated this:

231 grams divided by 31.1035 equals 7.43 Troy ounces

7.43 multiplied by .925 equals 6.87 Troy ounces of actual silver.

6.87 time $20.44 equals $140.42

Normally a scrap buyer would pay LESS than the actual scrap value because they have to cover refining costs and leave room for profit. In your case, they paid more. That tells me that the person who bought your silver was not going to melt it down but was planning to sell it as used flatware, perhaps in a store or on eBay.

You can buy scrap silver on eBay but there are many buyers competing with you. I would start out by placing a free ad on See what kind of action that generates.

To see who you are competing with, do this:

1. In the Google search window in the right column, enter this phrase: selling silver
2. Click "Search"
3. A new window will pop up. At the top of the screen you will see four ads. On the right side of the screen will also be a number of ads. Click on all that indicate they buy or sell silver. Google tries to make these ads local to your area if possible.
4. Go back to the original SilverChatter screen and enter in the search window: who buys and sells silver flatware
5. You may see new ads. Click on all you see to get a better idea of the competition.

Keep doing this until you are tired of it!

Unknown said...

Thanks for posting this. I've got some "Prelude" sterling silver silverware that I'd like to sell. Everywhere I've gone so far shows high prices to buy, which is great, but I can't seem to figure out where to sell them.
Your post has helped. Thanks!

vonharringa said...

To Whom It May Concern:

I own a company called Vonharringa LLC. I buy and sell antique sterling silver. I can pay you $25 per troy ounce for your set. I buy at $25 an ounce and sell for $28 an ounce to a reputable antique store in Manhattan. In turn your silver set is sold to a private customer who will preserve it for many years to come. My partner and I do not melt silver as we believe in the preservation of silver forms of art.

This is my full time job and I am an honest businessman. As stated above my profit is only $3 per ounce.

It is not necessary for you to weigh your silver. All you have to do is ship it to the following address:

Vonharringa LLC
493 Greenbelt Pkwy
Holtsville, NY 11742

Please provide a tracking number so that I may monitor the shipment. When your silver arrives I will weigh it on a scale certified by the department of weights and measures. Payment will be made in 1-2 business days via Paypal after silver arrives. I use Paypal because it is fast, safe and secure. It protects both buyer and seller.

I look forward to doing business with you.

Kind Regards,

Gunther von Harringa
Owner of Vonharringa LLC


Phone: 516.724.7554


vonharringa said...

Go to this website for helpful information on sterling silver flatware and tea sets.