What's It Worth? Appraising Sterling Silver?
We absolutely love sterling silver. But the market for sterling silver flatware has gotten soft in recent years … since the days of having the time or motivation to polish and maintain huge sets of sterling flatware – with 3 forks, 4 spoons and several knives in each place setting – are pretty much over. However, larger pieces – known as hollowware – seem to be holding their value as decorative and historical items (rather than utilitarian). French and Asian silver are very hot right now, and of course, fine British silver – especially older examples by known silversmiths – is still interesting to us and collectible to many. And some have stunningly high value.
As always, condition and provenance are very important. For instance, tankards from the George II and George III eras by prominent silversmith John Langlands – who worked in Newcastle, England, in the late 18th century – often go for $5,000-$8,000 at public auction.
A local client brought us an example, however, that we refused to pay more than $900 for. It had only 18 oz. of silver total – about $290 in scrap silver. But because of its condition, we estimated we could only achieve $1,200 to $1,500 for it.
The tankard came with terrific provenance as it had been in the family for 70 years, and had the original paperwork from the silver vaults in London. But it had over a dozen small to rather large dents, which lowered the value considerably. Further, it was “after decorated,” referring to the fancy repoussé work added to the original piece to match later styles. On the plus side, it appeared to have a family crest – which is always desirable.
Please note that not all silver and gold need to be “thrown on the scale.” Many have value far beyond their simple gold and silver worth. We are experts and can help.
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Hess Fine Art - Fine Art, Auction, Watch and Antique Experts Since 1984