Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
The most important tip for selling silver flatware is to determine if it's actually silver; check for markings on it to tell you. There should be inventory taken on all the pieces to determine whether it's a full set or just individual pieces. While doing research, get a rough estimate on the value of the flatware. This can be helpful when deciding who to sell it to or where to take it. Although it's often advised to polish it, consider waiting before cleaning it.
When selling silver flatware, take note of any markings. Look for words stamped on each piece that say “silver-plated” or “sterling,” the latter of which means that it's comprised of sterling silver. Check for maker marks, patterns or monogramming on the pieces and note any extensive flaws. Write all of the details out on a piece of paper to use for reference later on.
Determine if it's an entire set or if there are pieces missing. Count the amount of each type — a set typically comes with an even amount of utensils, so if there are four spoons, three knives and four forks, that means there is one knife missing from the set if all the pieces are the same. If there are the same number of each utensil, but there are a couple with different maker marks or patterns, it means there is a partial set along with a few individual pieces.
Selling silver flatware requires first doing Internet research to determine the value and history behind it. Start by looking up the maker mark followed by the type of pattern. There will likely be a description of when and where that particular type was made along with the value of a full set and individual pieces. Due to the personalization of monogramming, it typically significantly devalues the items. Compare the aforementioned information to the number of pieces currently in possession to get a rough estimate of the total value.
After getting an estimate about the possible value of the silver flatware, decide where to sell it. Those who are happy accepting a lump sum, which is typically based on the weight of the silver at its current market price, can take the pieces to a silver dealer. An antique dealer may be interesting in purchasing the flatware depending on its age. To get the most money, selling silver flatware via an online auction site is typically the best idea. Buyers who are missing pieces from a full set, or those who want a discontinued set, usually look to these sites to find what they need and are often willing to pay good money.
Many say it's best to remove the tarnish before selling silver flatware, however, consider waiting until after determining where the pieces are going to be sold. When selling online, it's best to polish the pieces so they can attract more buyers who see the pictures. An antique dealer may prefer the pieces in their current condition so they show a bit of their age, so ask first if it's best to polish the flatware before taking them in. When selling to a silver dealer, it's fruitless to spend time polishing the pieces when it's not relevant to the price you're going to be paid.
Another good tip to remember if you're selling it online is to mention whether you're selling pieces as individuals, or as place settings. You may say, "Two place settings and several individual pieces" or something similar in the ad. A place setting of flatware is usually a dinner fork, knife, salad fork, teaspoon and tablespoon.
It's also good to be up front about the condition the flatware is in. Tarnished is one thing -- that can be removed -- but what about scratches, dings, etc.? People who are paying good money for additional flatware pieces are going to want to know that before they spend too much. If the pieces are really beat up, consider selling them to a silver dealer who may melt them down. Condition doesn't matter at that point.
There's an easy way to determine the silver composition (sterling or plated) of a set of flatware: take it to a jeweler. A good jewelry store should be able to tell you whether a piece is sterling or not. You don't have take the whole set. Usually, just a couple of pieces, like a knife and fork, will be enough. They can probably also tell you the pattern name and whether it has been discontinued. If you're selling it online, people will want to know this information.
If the pattern has been discontinued, then people who have missing pieces from that pattern are more likely to want to fill out their collection. Serving pieces, like serving spoons and meat forks, are really popular because a lot of people who registered for silver flatware got place settings, but no "hostess pieces."
One of our editors will review your suggestion and make changes if warranted. Note that depending on the number of suggestions we receive, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Thank you for helping to improve wiseGEEK!