From forks over spoons to dishes: how much is my silverware worth?

Hi Alan! I contact you because I have inherited old silverware from my grandma and I would like to sell it. Honestly I have no clue about the value, could you please tell me how much is my silverware worth? It’s a collection of silverware, including a set of cutlery and two other silverware pieces, I think serving trays. I think my grandparents bought the silverware in Europe but I’m not 100% sure. I will attach you some photos. How much is my silverware worth, Alan?
Peter from Rockford in  Illinois

Hi Peter, thank you very much for contacting me. It’s my pleasure to help you evaluating the value of your silverware. You send me many photos, that’s great because that way it was easier for me to find out more about your silverware.
reDollar appraiser, Alan Jensen

Peter wants to know, how much is my silverware worth

Peter: Hi Alan! In my first email I told you about my inherited silverware, that I would like to sell. I’m not sure how much is my silverware worth, that’s why I got in touch with you. I hope you can help me with this question. I believe that I know that my grandparents bought the silverware in Europe. They loved travelling to the United Kingdom and not seldom they bought silver and other antiques in Europe. I hope the photos that I sent you were helpful for you.

Alan: Hi Peter! Thank you very much for your friendly contacting and the good photos that you sent me. Before we start the detailed evaluation process to find out how much your silverware is worth, we need to know two important facts. First: we need to know the silver purity your silverware is made of. Silverware will be produced in different grades of purity, so called alloys. A very common alloy for silverware is Sterling silver for example, which is made of 925 silver. 925 silver means, the respective item is made of 92,5% pure silver and the rest are other metals like palladium, copper, chromium, or manganese. Silver can be also alloyed with gold but for the manufacturing of silverware usually this won’t be the case. To find out the alloy, can you find any marks or stamps on your silver? This stamps were called hallmarks and most of the manufactured silver pieces are marked with such stamps. The hallmarks give us more information about the silver purity.

Peter: I try to find the hallmarks which you have mentioned, let me see. On my two silver serving trays I could found a stamp saying 925. And some other markings. I send you a photo of the markings on the serving trays. I think the set of cutlery is also made of 925 silver because there is also a “925” stamp on each piece of the cutlery. I try to send you as much pictures as I can from all the stamps that I can find. Maybe the silverware was manufactured for a special household? You think that can be true?

Alan: Thank you very much for sending me all the photos. I think I have some interesting news for you. And yes, the stamps on the silverware gives us more information about the origin and provenience. The hallmarks let us know the silversmith who has manufactured the silverware and also if the silver was manufactured for noble families or aristocrats like Kings or emperors. So you are right, this markings are very, very important and it’s exciting to decode their information. On your photos I can see that your two silver service trays must be made of 925 silver. I say “must be”, because to confirm this information finally, I need to have the pieces in hands, but anyway, we assume that all your specifications are correct. The hallmarks are clearly visible on the silver trays. On both silver trays I could detect very interesting silversmith markings. One of your silver trays is a Tiffany tea tray. This piece is gorgeous because it can be named antique already. It has the typically mark of Tiffany & Co., New York and was manufactured around 1891-1902. A piece like that has a great value that exceeds the material value by far.
The second silver tray seems to be smaller than the Tiffany piece but it is also made of 925 silver. This piece is a George II salver with a nice pie crust boarder. It has the mark of George Hindmarsh who was a well-known British silversmith. I think this piece was manufactured around 1733, so very, very early and here we can build the bridge between America and Europe because preliminary you told us that your grandparents often bought their antique pieces in Europe. Also the silver salver is a great piece of silverware. This two silverware pieces are not usual tableware, this outstanding silver pieces are already fine antiques.

Peter: Wow this are awesome news! I didn’t knew that the pieces do have such an interesting origin. What do you mean by material value? You mentioned that before but I’m not sure what you mean by it?

Alan: Well, at the beginning of our conversation I told you that I need to know two basic facts on that a profound evaluation is based on. First I needed to know the purity of silver and secondly I need to know the weight of your silver. With the weight and the purity, I’m able to calculate the material value of your silverware. But what concerns your Tiffany silver tea tray, the value is much higher than only the material value. In that case you also have to consider the famous manufacturer and the age. Please weigh all your pieces and tell me the weight indication so that we can proceed with the proper evaluation of your silverware. Please be so kind and measure the length of your silver trays. When we have to do with antique pieces of a higher value, this specifications are also important to know.

Peter: Ok I understand. I provide you with all the necessary information. I’m so excited to find out how much my silverware is worth. Your analysis sounds very promising to me. I think I can get much more cash than I have expected initially.

Alan: Yes it is. Thank you for the additional information. On basis of the provided weight (and dimensions) I could calculate an estimated value of your two silver trays. For the Tiffany & Co., New York silver tea tray which has a remarkable length of 76 cm and weighs
8,13 kilograms I could estimate a realistic price of $12,500. That’s a great amount of money but the piece is also gorgeous and such a piece can’t be bought every day. For your second silver tray, the salver, with a weight of 754 grams and a diameter of 26 cm I would say a price around $1,000 should be realistic. So you see we have a first result. What do you think about this prices?

Peter: Wow!!! I’m speechless. I would have never counted with such a high value for this silver pieces. That’s amazing! I’m so happy that I have consulted you before I would have sold it to any dealer out there who might have not the necessary knowledge to make such a great analysis. Thank you for that Alan!

Alan: No problem at all, I’m happy to assist you as best as I can. Let’s go ahead with your silver cutlery. It seems that you have really interesting silver items, also for me it’s exciting to unlock the value of this treasures. I refer to the silver cutlery now. This is an American set, each marked Sterling. The manufacturer is not very special in that case so it’s a common silver cutlery set with no remarkable background. You also told me the weight of each silver cutlery piece but in that case we have to consider something special.

Peter: Really what’s so important to consider with the calculation of the value of silver cutlery? I’m really curious! Tell me more!

Alan: Well, to calculate the value of your silver cutlery, we can’t use the total weight of the knives. In nearly almost every case the handles of the knives are filled with filling materials such as sand for example. And the blades are not made of silver as well. In the majority of cases the blades from silver knives are made of steel because steal is much harder and more robust than the “softer” material silver. For this reason it’s better suited to use for cutting. So what concerns the knives we have to deduct some weight, up to 70%. It depends. For your common American silver cutlery set with a net weight of 2,3 kilograms (the knives excluded), from no remarkable silversmith, I have calculated a current price of $905.33.

Peter: Wow that’s not bad as well! I’m stunned! I learned a lot from your analysis and I’m more than happy that I have found such a reliable place where to sell my silverware. You guys seem to be very experienced, this gives me a safe feeling!

Alan: Thank you very much for your compliments. I’m an expert in that field of knowledge and precious metals in general are my passion. That’s why I can answer almost all your questions about gold and silver. Our team comprises very motivated people that makes us very successful. It’s good to hear that you are happy with our service.

Peter: Yes I am. I have already came to a decision, I will sell my silverware with you guys. Your detailed analysis has convinced me and the prices you offered me are really promising. I will get started right now, thanks again for your brilliant support!

Alan: My pleasure Peter, I’m happy that our company has just become a new customer! Whenever you need my help, you know how you can reach me or my colleagues.

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