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Friday, March 13, 2009

Sterling Flatware at Antique Shows

If you are planning to buy sterling flatware, here's another option - visit an antique show near your home. For example, there is a huge show one weekend every month in our city, Atlanta, sponsored by Scott Antique Markets. The same company has shows in Ohio.

An antique show typically will host many dealers, some of whom will bring sterling silver for sale. Dealers selling sterling can be classified roughly into these groups.
  • Dealers selling all types of antiques may have some sets or individual pieces of flatware. You have to walk the entire show to find pieces in dealers' booths that interest you.
  • Some dealers specializing in sterling flatware carry an inventory of used individual pieces and may have a wide variety. Some dealers polish it all; others leave it tarnished and sell for a little less. Sometimes these dealers have bargain tables where they will pile up pieces in a random method. Most of these bargains are less popular patterns or pieces not in great shape. However, we have bought a few pieces off tables like this at great prices.
  • Other dealers specializing in sterling flatware may focus on sets only. You may find some very nice sets but they also may be at a hefty price.

The prices you can expect to see at an antique show are roughly comparable to "Fixed Price" or "Buy It Now" items offered by "power" sellers on eBay. Many dealers are willing to negotiate, especially on the last day of the show. Of course, the big advantage is that you can see the condition of the pieces first hand. You don't have to pay shipping but you may have to pay sales tax.

If you have some sterling flatware you want to sell, you could take it to a show and offer it to dealers. The price they will offer you probably will not be as much as you want. Expect 25-45% of the price they are selling it for.

If you don't know when shows come to your area, ask your friends. It's a popular thing. You might also check the Antique Week web site. You have to register there but it's free. Click on "Shows" in their heading.

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