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    How to know if your Flatware & Hollowware set is valuable?

    Posted on December 7th, 2020 by Joe G

    So you discover that you have a wooden chest in your attic or basement and inside there is what appears to be silver flatware service knives, forks, spoons, for 8 or 12, and some additional serving pieces. Or your relative gifted you a set, and or you may have found a set at a thrift shop or Salvation Army. With the price of silver in the mid $20.00 per ounce range, it can be a nice way to convert it into cash. So before you buy it or get ready to bring that sterling silver set into Chicago Gold Gallery, here are a few ways to determine if it is in fact valuable Sterling Silver or only Silver Plated.

    The Stamp

    One of the most obvious ways is to look on the back of any fork or spoon and see if the word Sterling or Sterling Silver is stamped on the back of the pieces. Ninety-five percent of the time if it is Sterling Silver it will be stamped Sterling Silver, as well as the manufacturing company stamp, will be on the back as well. Some examples are Gorham, Reed & Barton, Towle, Wallace, International, and others. But keep in mind many of those same manufacturers produced Silver Plated for a lower budget customer even 100 years ago, so just because it’s old doesn’t necessarily mean it is valuable Sterling Silver.

    Look For Sterling

    These pieces may have the stamp International Silver Company stamped on the back, and International does make Sterling but if it only says International Silver Company and not the word Sterling Silver you can almost be sure it is not Sterling Silver. There are many silver plate indicators as well, the initials IS ( inlaid silver), the words Silver on Copper, EP, Silver Soldered, Triple are just a few of the stamping examples that United States manufacturers used for silver plated. There are companies like Community and Rogers Brothers that almost exclusively only made silver plated.


    If the forks & spoons are stamped,  you will have to look really closely at the knife around the area where the knife handle meets the blade and you should see the word Sterling Handle.  The fact that the pieces are tarnished ( patina) does not mean it is Sterling which many are mislead by. It only means the silver plating is tarnishing. European sets are another story and may have multiple hallmarks, but you will need to bring those into us to determine when you bring your sterling silver in. There can be exceptions but rarely silver-plated will be worth anything substantial. We are open Monday though Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm. Bring in your items for a free appraisal and turn it into cash

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