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Pricing Old Silverware

Hi All- A friend is cleaning out her mother’s house and has one
complete set of silver ware and one set of silver-plate along with
some silver platters trays etc. She wants to sell them to me cheap
but I don’t know what to tell her for a price- any ideas? Is it worth
melting old silver down for the silver? Thanks in advance- Gail

Gail, old silver patterns, depending on the pattern and the
condition, can bring a premium well over melt value for the silver.
Some silver plate is also collectible. Do some research on the net
before you put the torch to those pieces. You can also check out any
antique malls and antique stores to get an idea of the value. Wish I
had a web site to direct you to but have been out of the silver
flatware end of the business for a long time…

Frank Goss

Is it worth melting old silver down for the silver? 

Only if it’s totally trashed and no longer usable as silverware. If
it’s in decent shape, even if it needs a good cleaning or something,
then it’s likely worth a LOT more than just it’s silver content.
Check ebay or for an idea of what the individual
pieces or place settings sell for in your pattern. You may be

Check to get an idea of the full retail value, and
ebay for something more like street value.

As a flatware collector it pains me to see old silver melted down,
but I realize it’s sometimes the easiest solution.



There are 2 considerations, assuming it’s solid silver (NOT silver

  1. Is the pattern one that is rare or worth more than the silver
    value? An antique/estate dealer or some research into silver patterns
    would tell you this.

  2. If it’s not a rare pattern, then the appropriate price to offer
    would be the day’s spot price per oz. It’s ideal for melting down…
    some people also use the spoons and forks “as is” to create jewelry
    or sculptural objects. Just beware of the knives – some older
    patterns have knife handles that are filled with shellac or other
    substances which can yield a nasty surprise when molded or melted.
    Saw one in half before trying anything with the knife handles. (and
    check the knife blades - they should be stamped if they are also

Good luck!
Karen Goeller
No Limitations Designs
Hand-made, one-of-a-kind jewelry

Make sure it’s stamped .925 or Sterling first of all.

The spoons and forks are solid and cast quite nicely. Weigh them up
and buy them at scrap price, you can call a local coin dealer or pawn
shop and see what they are paying for comparison.

The knife blades are stainless and the handles are hollow and filled
with plaster so you can hammer them to break up the plaster and pull
them off. I wouldn’t cast with them personally as they’re tough to
get totaly clean, but you could send them off to the refiner.

The silver plate is not worth anything aside from it’s use as actual
place settings.

Go here first:

You may or may not have something worth more than you think - they
also buy some things - not all things, though.

I dont know about other refineries, but Hoover and strong will not
accept SS knifes as the blade is steel. Only the handle is silver,
and the labor cost of seperating exceeds the silver value (per phone
call from H & S employee).


Only if it's totally trashed and no longer usable as silverware.
If it's in decent shape, even if it needs a good cleaning or
something, then it's likely worth a LOT more than just it's silver

In a related matter, I was polishing my silver and glass salt and
pepper shakers (you have them too, don’t you?) and I noticed they’re
marked 700, not plated as I had assumed they were.

Does that indeed mean that they are “solid,” and does the fact that
they’re weighted make them harder to refine?


Gail, I am guessing that you aren’t in the jewelry / metals
fabricating business, so your biggest concern should be what you are
actually buying. The vast majority of ‘silverware’ is not really
made of silver, and most ‘silver’ trays and serving pieces are either
plated or weighted with non-valuable ‘cement’ inside. If you wish to
pursue this purchase, feel free to re-post on this group a
description of the actual pieces for sale and EVERY MARKING found on
them. Looking forward to helping you in this purchase.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers


It may depend on the pattern. There were silver patterns in limited
production that are still sought after. You might want to look on
the site for past auctions to check prices.

Good luck,
Mary A.


Mary and Lee are right. I bought two sets of sterling silverware)
thirty years ago. One set of 8 place setting is Wallace-Sterling, I
believe a Rose Bud pattern and Towle-Sterling. Be sure their is a
hallmark at the back (Sterling). I have REED&BARTON sets but they are
SILVERPLATED. Average weight are one oz. of Sterling Siver excluding
steel on the knife. Price approx. 10 dollars an oz. I"ll but it for
15 Just kidding:) Went to Foley"s two years ago 70 dollars a piece.
Hope this well help.



Does that indeed mean that they are “solid,” and does the fact that
they’re weighted make them harder to refine?

What other marks are on the piece along with the 700 mark? This mark
of 700 may indicate the pattern number used by the manufacturer.

Greg DeMark

This is an article many of you may have seen on my site:

Silver has escalated to its highest price since 1980, and it’s time
to make crucial decisions. To scrap or not to scrap? First and
foremost, are you absolutely certain that the object you want melted
isn’t a rare or important piece crafted by an important silversmith?
If it was made by a silver company, are you positive it isn’t one of
only a few produced? These are questions that you should take into
careful consideration before scrapping. Keep in mind that during the
last rush to the refiners in 1980, tons of important silver that will
never be reproduced was recklessly disposed of. Some of it was saved
from the flames by the hands of knowledgeable silver dealers, but the
majority will never be seen again in this throw-away society.

I suggest giving these objects as gifts, especially if they are
handwrought or contain beautifully hand-engraved monograms or
chasing. These pieces are works of art and should never be melted.
Why not wait for birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays, and surprise
your friends or loved ones? If your silver is damaged or heavily
tarnished, it might be easily restored by a specialist in silver
restoration, making it useful again. If you still intend on selling
your silver, consider a reputable antique dealer who has silver
appraisal experience, or contact an auction house.

I’ve spoken to many individuals who didn’t do their research before
scrapping, finding out soon afterwards that their silver was far
more valuable than its silver content alone. Please give serious
consideration to what you’re looking at before shipping it to a
refiner. Something else to keep in mind: many refiners will also
charge a refining fee of $50 or more per lot!

Jeffrey Herman
Herman Restoration & Conservation