The act of passing down a set of fine China or a collection of antique silver flatware from a one generation to the next is a time-honored tradition in our culture.
In fact, maybe you’ve been the recipient yourself of your grandparents’ treasured assortment of silver utensils and other flatware.
The reality, of course, is that owning a set of high-quality tableware doesn’t quite make the same statement today that it once did. Especially when you consider that silver flatware needs to be painstakingly polished after every use and properly stored, selling silver for a sizable chunk of cash starts to seem a lot more attractive and sensible than stashing it away in a drawer for years to come.
But make no mistake: There are right and wrong ways when it comes to selling silver.
First, Figure Out What You Have
If you want to sell your silver, you’ll first need to figure out what’s in your collection. This step is deceptively simple, because while there are only two distinct types of silver flatware, figuring out exactly what you have stored away in the dining room cupboard may take some doing.
The most valuable pieces are pure, solid silver, otherwise known as sterling silver. Much less desirable are silver plated pieces, in which a flatware item made of cheap metal is covered with a thin layer of silver.
Is Your Flatware Simply Silver-Plated?
To figure out whether your various pieces of flatware are simply silver plated, look for a small marking on the backside of the piece that reads “silver-plate.” If you see markings that read “plated,” “EP,” or “EPNS,” you’ve got a silver-plated piece, which effectively means that the item is worthless in the open market. Your best bet? Give it a nice polish and use the flatware for its intended purpose. You can expect it to last for as long as 20 years.
Do You Own Any Sterling Silver Pieces?
Another way to determine if your flatware is silver-plated is by the absence of a mark indicating its sterling silver purity. That’s because it’s incredibly rare to find a piece of sterling silver flatware that isn’t clearly indicated as such.
The most common marks you’ll see on a piece of tableware or flatware made of pure sterling silver is the word “sterling;” the number .925 (or higher; this indicates that the silver has a purity of at least 925/1000); or the image of a lion or his paw, which indicates that your sterling piece was manufactured in England.
If you own any pieces that are incredibly old—we’re talking pre-Civil War-era old—there is a chance that they may be real silver even if they carry none of the marks mentioned above.
Some very old pieces carry only the name and mark of the piece’s maker, in which case you might try to identify the mark with the help of the Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks, and Maker’s Marks.
How and Where Should You Sell Your Silver Flatware?
There are essentially three separate ways to sell your silver, and each has its pros and cons.
If you’ve determined that you own pieces of sterling silver, and they happen to have some antique value, selling them through an online auction site like eBay may well be your best bet. Collectors will often pay well for rare items, or for pieces that will help them complete a collection. This method is a time-intensive process, so be certain you’re up to the task.
Shops Offering Cash for Gold and Silver:
If you don’t have any luck selling your items to private buyers, you might consider selling them to a store that will buy them purely for their silver content. “Cash for Gold” shops and pawnshops exist in most cities, but before you sell, try to spend some time following the fluctuating price of silver, and don’t sell when the price is at an especially low point.
Get a Bid from a Professional Silver Matching Service:
These are businesses that buy silver and then sell the pieces to collectors. Receiving a bid from one of these services is a bit of a process, though; you’ll need to fill out each service’s online form, indicating exactly what you are selling. Then you sit back and wait for a bid, a process that can take some time. Some of the better-known services include Replacements, Ltd., Kovels, and The Silver Queen.
Selling Silver in Doylestown and Bucks County
In our opinion, selling silver to “Cash for Gold” shops or pawnshops is the quickest and easiest way to turn silver into cash. Unfortunately, you’re never sure if the person to whom you’re selling is reliable.
That’s where Doylestown Gold Exchange comes in. In a relatively short amount of time we’ve become known as a trustworthy, reputable and especially honest shop. We’re family owned and operated, and we’re in this business for one reason only: It’s our passion. We would love to meet you and appraise your silver flatware, even if you don’t end up selling it to our shop.
We serve Bucks, Montgomery and Lehigh counties, as well as the surrounding Philadelphia-Allentown area. Our shop is located at 812 N. Easton Road in Doylestown, and you can contact us here. If you’re selling silver, we want to talk!