With the rising prices of metals, many people are selling their silver as scrap as a means of making money. The combination of a tough economy and high prices for their silver is leading many families to sell the family silver.
For those of us that love antiques, this is a disturbing, but understandable trend that we hope doesn’t continue. But if your family is struggling and you have your grandmother’s sterling silver dinnerware stored away and you rarely use it, who can blame you for taking advantage of these high prices. Some of these sets are bringing several thousand dollars if it is a large service. The prices for precious metals have come down some from their recent record highs, so many wonder if these prices will ever be this high again. Not wanting to miss this window of opportunity, they are selling their gold and silver to take advantage of these high prices.
Of course these high prices of precious metals have caused many people to search through their jewelry boxes and drawers trying to find any old, unused or broken jewelry that can be sold for scrap. It doesn’t take much to be able to make a few hundred dollars to sell some old broken pieces of gold jewelry.
On the other hand, as an antiques store owner, I can’t tell you how many people were bringing in silver plate thinking they had a fortune in their dinnerware. Nearly all sterling silver is marked, but different countries mark their silver different ways. We recently had to serving pieces of silver that was from a European country, I don’t remember which one, that had an unusual marking for their silver. We didn’t even know it was not silver plate until I did some research on the internet. So we were able to make a decent little profit by knowing this mark.
As an antique dealer, I love the marking of silver in the United Kingdom. The markings on each piece will not only have the sterling mark, but each piece has a date stamp also. Some even have the stamp of the maker. These marks allow you to accurately date each piece, although some of the marks are very similar and many times have worn so much you can’t identify the date letter. But when these different marks can be read, it is very helpful for both buyers and sellers to be able to give accurate dates. Many times a customer will ask how we were able to date something we were trying to sell. With these silver pieces it was quite easy to show them our handy little silver book that showed all of the letters corresponding to the appropriate dates. I only had problems trying to photograph these tiny marks to post pictures on the internet. It possibly could be my lack of skill with the camera. But the combination of a shiny surface and tiny marks made it difficult to get a good, clear photo.
I would hope people would see what they could sell their pieces for their antique value or even the value of the particular silver pattern before selling for scrap value. Take a few minutes and see what similar sets are selling on eBay or one of the antiques sites on the internet. Young people seem to not be buying sterling dinnerware like the older generations did, again because the high prices of silver now. So once these sets are melted down, they are gone forever. I don’t blame people for taking care of their families. If something is just being stored away and rarely used, why not turn it into money. Some have kept it for that unforeseen emergency, and who knows when that will be needed.
One of the things that many lovers of antiques really appreciate is how these many beautiful things are passed down from one generation to another. Antiques were the original green industry before green was cool. But once these things are melted down they are gone forever. But I guess all is not lost, because they will be transformed into something new. But the antique value is lost. With these tough economic times, it is understandable why people are turning their precious metals into cash. Be sure and check to be sure you are getting the highest prices you can if you are selling gold or silver. Many people are taking advantage of this huge market, and the prices being offered vary widely. Get two or three offers before selling.
If you need some extra cash, be sure to see if you have a few pieces of broken jewelry that might be worth more than you realize. Or maybe you still have your high school class ring that we just all had to have, but haven’t worn since your senior year. Take advantages of these high prices and turn your unwanted pieces into a nice little payday.