How to Value Silverware

While silverware is a part of everyday life for essentially every person in the world, it also has the potential to be significantly valuable.

Silverware

antique silverware on a table

Are you wondering if your family heirloom set is worth anything, or perhaps you would simply like to know more about it? Silverware has been a staple household essential  in homes across the world for generations and generations, and as with any such items some sets are more valuable than others. Many collectors are intrigued by the detail and elegance of fine antique silverware which was often regarded as a symbol of status. To find out more about how to value your silverware, read the following tips below.

What is silverware?

Silverware refers to any kind of cutlery that is made of, covered with, or even merely resembling silver. It used in most in the Western world, as well as in some parts of Asia and Africa. It can include not only utensils, but plates and decorative items like candlesticks as well. Using silver for cutlery dates back to Ancient Roman times, however it was not until the end of the 19th century that it could be afforded by those outside of the upper classes. So while we may take such conveniences for granted now, true silverware was seen as a great luxury for the majority of its history, and so today there are many who still enjoy the beauty and extravagance that such items have to offer.

details of decorative silver spoon

Is it silver?

One of the first characteristics of your silverware to ascertain is whether it is silver, silver plated, or not silver at all. It is typically quite simply to identify whether a set is silver or silver plated, as silver pieces will be stamped with the either word sterling, .925, or 925/1000. This means that it is made out of 92.5% silver with 7.5% other metal material, typically copper. However if you have reason to believe that your item is particularly old, there may be no stamp, as this convention was not made widespread until about 1850. In this case it is important to have the material chemically tested by an expert. 

Otherwise, your silverware may be silver plated. This simply means that it is composed of a non-precious metal and only covered in a layer of silver. Unfortunately silver plated as well as non silver cutler has little to no monetary value.

Hallmarks and stamps

Along with the mark of sterling, most American silverware made after 1850 will also bear a pictorial or initial maker’s mark. However in the case of British silverware, some hallmarks can be dated back to the 14th century however it was not an ever present characteristic of fine silverware. After 1700, British silverware should typically bare at least four hallmarks. The lion passant hallmark represents the mark of sterling silver. However in Edinburgh and Ireland, this aspect is represented by their national symbols, the thistle, and harp. Next there is a mark that represents the town in which it was made; for example, the leopard represents London. Next is a letter from A to Z, which marks the date. The last mark is that of the maker which is typically denoted by the initials of the silversmith.

There are other possible variations and marks that often indicate the silverware was made outside of Britain or America. For example a piece that bears the number 800 and features a crescent moon points towards the silverware originating from Germany. 

"The age and rarity of the item will also play a significant role in affecting its monetary worth, as an older piece will most likely have survived due to its perceived value throughout its life."

Appraisal

Of course the most important step to take in seeking an estimate for the value of your silverware is to seek professional appraisal. Only an expert will be able to take into consideration all that is necessary and thus contrive from this information the most accurate estimate of value as possible. This step is absolutely essential in order to avoid error as effectively as possible. Luckily here at Value My Stuff there are experts in appraisal that can meet your needs of silverware appraisal in practically no time!

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