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Specialist in Silver
"I was educated at Sotheby’s in London, and have worked for 14 years at Bruun Rasmussen Art Auctions in Denmark both as an auctioneer and arts specialist. I have written three books and several articles on the subject antique silver, old toys, works of art, collectibles etc. For the past 22 years I have worked as a specialist on the Danish Antique Roadshow on television. I aim to give you the best estimate based on todays prices and demand for your particular antique or work of art."
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Silver cutlery, also known as silverware, is best known for its market value. The dramatic increase in value of silver cutlery is attributed to the precious metal content.
Since most homeowners have their own solid silver cutlery, you could be sitting on a pile of cash at home! The value of silver cutlery remains the same but even more so when it comes in a whole set and had been handed down from several generations.
As mentioned above, every home has its own collection of silver cutlery. It is part of the family history. In fact, most of the silver cutlery pieces had been handed down from one generation to the next.
It is typically brought out for important celebrations such as family gatherings or holidays. This is part of the reason why these items are considered of high emotional value – it is deeply embedded into the family’s history and traditions.
Another practical reason to invest in silver cutlery is due to its antiseptic properties. Hence, silver is used for cutlery as it is the safest metal to come into contact with food. Its toxicity level is also not of the same level as other types of metal.
Johan Rohde: “Acorn”. Sterling silver cutlery. Georg Jensen after 1945. Weight excl. pieces with steel 1649 gr. (58)
Estimate $3,331– $4,164. (SOLD $3,164 USD)
There are two types of silver that are commonly used for making cutlery. If you intend to re-sell your silver cutlery, you need to differentiate between the two types of silver: pure silver and sterling silver.
When you say pure silver, it refers to 99.9% silver. It is a very soft material and is commonly used for jewelry. Like gold, it can be dented easily. It also does not tarnish easily even when exposed to air.
Pure silver is never used to make cutlery. It is either sterling silver og silver plated. Watch out for german silver
On the other hand, there is sterling silver, which is made up of 92.5% silver and 7.5% of other types of metals (mostly steel, iron, or copper). The main disadvantage of using sterling silver is its sensitivity to water and air. However, combining with other precious metals can make sterling silver hold its shape. It can also reinforce its durability.
The entire set of a silver cutlery is known as canteen (boxed or not). A traditional cutlery set consists of 24 pieces. If your cutlery set consists of all 24 pieces, its market value will be significantly higher than individual pieces or a set that has missing pieces.
There are many pieces that make up a silvery cutlery set. As mentioned earlier, having the different pieces together in a set will significantly increase its value in the market. The set is divided into 12 knives and 12 matching forks.
A traditional cutlery set comes with a table fork that is a four-pronged fork often used together with a spoon or knife. Originally, silver table knives were produced differently from other types of spoons and knives. However, a complete set of silver cutlery will usually include one piece of this.
Another important piece that is included in a cutlery set is serving spoon. This one is larger in size from the tablespoons because it is used as a serving instrument. Other pieces found in a cutlery set are serving instruments (such as salad claws and cake servers) and dessert cutlery (smaller scale versions of the tablespoons and table forks). In terms of style, it will vary from one set to another.
A SET OF SILVER CUTLERY - MARKED 'ABRAHAM LEON', SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND, WITH TUGHRA OF SULTAN 'ABD AL-HAMID II (R. 1876-1909)
Estimate: GBP 1,000 - GBP 2,000. (SOLD GBP 1,875)
The weight of the cutlery is also a significant appraisal factor when valuing your silver cutlery. In the absence of any significant or unique hallmarks, the weight of the silverware would help determine its value in the market.
The hallmark can be the single most important factor that can boost the value of your antique silver flatware. A hallmark refers to the unique features or details that certain manufacturers incorporate into the design of their silver cutlery. This can be a unique crest or stamp, or perhaps maker’s mark. This is believed to lend a certain level of prestige that would make the pieces highly sought after in the market. Depending on the manufacturer and type of hallmark, it can make your set really expensive.
Taking pictures of your silver cutlery is highly important when you are selling your silver cutlery online. When taking pictures, focus on any significant details such as hallmarks or stamp marks from the manufacturer. These are the factors that add value to the silver pieces. Thus, you want to be able to showcase those details when you upload your images. Use the macro settings on your camera to capture close-up images of details you want potential buyers to notice or know about.
While the close-up images are important, it is also important to take a picture of the whole set. This will give the buyers a picture of the overall condition of the silver cutlery set.
When taking your cutlery set for valuation, you need to prepare it in order to get the highest possible appraisal. Polishing your silver before valuation is generally not recommended. You might be tempted to do this especially when the tarnish has obscured the stamps. However, using any chemical polish will tarnish the factory-applied finish to your silverware. This will significantly reduce the estimated value of your silver cutlery. Use a polishing cloth instead.
Tarnish is not a problem with silver cutlery as it can be easily polished. Some minor scratches or “dings” shouldn’t be a problem, too, as it is to be expected especially with vintage pieces.
To put it simply – valuing silver cutlery is not easy. It is not a straightforward process that you can determine exactly what the market value is without individually inspecting the item or set. There are several factors (big and small) that can cause the price to fluctuate.
First and foremost, the type of silver on the cutlery is one factor that has one of the highest impacts on the value. Pure silver and sterling silverware have varying market values. On the other hand, there are also silver plated cutlery sets that are not as valuable as the other two types of silver mentioned above.
Age is one factor that appraisers use to estimate the value of your silverware. An 18th century cutlery set might provide more significant history (and rarity) as compared to a 20th century cutlery set. Hence, if you can provide documentation or proof of the age of the set then you can use that to your advantage to get the highest estimate possible.
Other typical features used to determine the value of silver cutlery is the pattern and hallmarks on it, if any. The unique pattern present in the silver cutlery will showcase skilled craftsmanship. Small details such as the type of material used on the handle, as well as the style, can combine to make the set stand out and be considered of high value.
Finally, the value of your silver cutlery will also be impacted depending on how many pieces you have. If you have the complete 24-piece set, you can get the best possible price for it. When it comes to owning individual pieces of silver cutlery, the value will be determined according to which piece you own. Common cutlery pieces such as spoons, forks, and knives are easy to find; hence, they are not as valuable as other rare items like knife sets, cocktail forks, and demitasse spoons. The latter group of items is considered of higher value when appraised.
As you can see, many factors go into estimating the value of silver cutlery. It takes an expert appraiser to be able to accurately assess the value of said items.
There are plenty of websites that enable you to sell your silver cutlery online. However, you need to choose the best ones to get honest and accurate appraisal for your valued items. This is true in the case of silver cutlery, which can be very expensive especially if you own rare and old pieces. Using the information listed here, you should have an idea how to get the valuation you want for your valued items.
For this reason, Mearto is a good place to start for professional and expert appraisal for your silver pieces. Our silver experts will provide accurate and qualified estimation of your item’s value so that you can get maximum profit off of your antique silver cutlery.