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Monday, August 3, 2009

What's My Sterling Worth? - Revisited

The hottest general topic on this blog, based on web pages actually viewed and search terms used in Google and other search engines, is some variation on the theme, "How do I sell my sterling flatware and how much is it worth?" Last year, we decided to test the waters and secured real quotes, in writing, from three different reputable businesses that buy and sell used sterling flatware - a very large dealer, a large dealer and a small dealer.

We've seen these businesses sell on eBay and we've seen web sites and catalogs of theirs outside of eBay. We've seen their ads pop up in the Google ads in the right column and at the bottom of this blog.

We told them we had a set of Gorham Chantilly in excellent condition with no monograms that we wanted to sell. The 56 pieces in this fictitious set were:

  • Eight place-size forks, 7.5 inches long
  • Eight place-size knives, 9.25 inches long
  • Eight salad forks
  • Eight teaspoons
  • Eight iced tea spoons
  • Eight oval soup spoons
  • One gravy ladle
  • One sugar spoon
  • Two serving tablespoons
  • One pierced serving tablespoon
  • One cold meat fork
  • One cake/pie server
  • One flat master butter knife

The three quotes we received to purchase our set ranged from $872.00 to $938.00, a difference of $66.00, or 7%. For the highest quote, the average price per piece was $16.75.

So, if you had a set like this in excellent condition, you could expect to get at least $938.00 for it. All three dealers included in the wording of their quotes a caveat that if the set was not in excellent condition according to their guidelines, the price would be less.

We should insert a note here to say that at the time these quotes were generated, commodity silver was around $20.00 per Troy ounce. Today, it's in the $14.25 ballpark. This may affect negatively a price quote we might obtain today but probably not terribly much. If we're selling to a scrap dealer, the commodity price drop would have a more significant impact.

What was the retail price of this set? Prices from multiple retailers were well over $5,000.

So, what's this set worth? It all depends on who's buying and who's selling! If you use the retail price as your benchmark, you may be disappointed in what you are actually able to sell your set for. On the other hand, if you can find an end-user buyer who will want your set for personal use, you can probably get more than what the dealers offered. Consignment shops, and eBay are three possible channels that come to mind to try to reach this end-user buyer.

As always, comments and emails on this subject are welcome.

FYI for any techies interested: We are able to tell what pages have been viewed and what search terms were used by accessing a web tool called "Google Analytics".

Click on any picture to see a larger version. 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 "Email Silver Jim" in the right column.


Anonymous said...

Hi, recently acquired a 12 piece set of Onieda Virginian sterling flatware and need ideas of how to market-do firms such as Georgia Silver appraise, consign and/or purchase?

Silver Jim said...

My first suggestion would be for you to try to find an end user buyer who will want your set for personal use. Such a buyer usually pays the highest price. An ad on craigslist might be a way to test the waters. Another way to test the waters is in a nice consignment shop. Of course, you can try selling it on eBay. Unfortunately, there have only been 5 completed sales in this pattern on eBay in the past two weeks. Compare this with hundreds of completed sales for a pattern like Gorham Chantilly.

The secondary market for this pattern is extremely thin so dealers are going to be very conservative in their offers.

Going back to your original questions, we would consider buying your set but I think you might want to try the other routes first in order to get the best price.

Best wishes.

Jennifer Swan Hopkins said...

Hello - I was doing a search to see what to price my mom's silver at on craig's list - it is so very confusing, isn't it? I have service for 12 with serving pieces of Wallace Rose Point Sterling:
12 Each:
Dinner Knives (9 inch) 12
Lunch Knives (7 inch) 12
Dinner Forks (7 inch) 12
Desert/Salad Forks 12
Oyster/Olive/Cheese Forks 12
Tea Spoons 12
Cream Soup Spoons 12

Serving Pieces:
Cold Meat Fork 1
Cold Meat Knife 1
Gravy Ladle 1
Serving Spoons (8.5 inch) 3
Master Butter Knife 1

Grand Total 91

Can you help? Kind regards, and thanks - J

Silver Jim said...

This is a reply to the previous comment.

Click on "Email Silver Jim" in the right column and send me an email. That way I can capture your address and reply with an estimate that way.


Anonymous said...

i recently aquired a serving type platter...on back it says towle sterling 150 and on the front it is engraved the following...WITH GRATITUDE TO WAYNE NEWTON FROM VERNOIS INC DECEMBER 31 1975.....the plate is about 12" in diameter....

Silver Jim said...

This is in response to the comment about the "Wayne Newton" platter.

This piece probably has significant value simply because of its silver content. However, it might have more value to a collector who collects pieces that once belonged to celebrities.