November 25, 2017 2 Comments

This post was updated on August 2021

There comes the point when the hand-me-down silverware you've accumulated from past generations starts to clutter your space. Before you discard anything, however, you may want to consider selling your old silverware — it could be worth more than you think.

If you're looking to sell your silver flatware, then you might want to learn how to tell if it's worth something. As an industry expert for over ten years, Muzeum is educated in buying all types of silver worldwide. 

We are interested in seeing your antique silverware sets, jewellery, tea settings and cutlery, coins, bullion, and more. We pride ourselves on providing fair, honest pricing for buying and selling old silverware. You can even check out today's gold and silver pricing by visiting our home page.  

Before getting your silverware sets evaluated, there are also ways you can start to estimate the value of your silver flatware and identify which pieces could potentially be more valuable than others. Learn what antique silverware is worth the most and how you can identify the value of your flatware and ensure you sell it for the fairest price. 

What is Silverware? 

Silverware is cutlery that is either made of or coated with silver. This includes plates, candlesticks, forks, spoons, and other silver decorative items. These pieces have been used for centuries and date back to ancient Rome, but it was only in the 19th century that people under the upper class began enjoying these classic items.

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How to Determine the Value of Your Antique Silverware

Is it Sterling Silver & Silver Plated

Sometimes when we are handed down flatware from generation to generation, we don't realize how valuable these pieces are. If you are thinking of selling your silverware, know that there are multiple ways and reasons that you can sell your silver. 

You can sell the large majority of household silver for its valuable silver material or sell it as-is (if it is an antique piece or set). If the value of your silverware is less because it's not antique, you can sell it by the gram.

The thing is, antique silverware can be made of silver, coated with silver, or just a knockoff. So, when it comes to finding out how much your pieces are worth, you need first to determine whether it is made of silver (whether 50%, 80% or the most seen, sterling 92.5%). After all, pure silver items are significantly more valuable than silver-plated items.

What is the Difference between Sterling Silver & Silver Plated

Sterling Silver: Sterling silver is commonly used to make items like silverware sets and jewellery because it is strong and tarnish resistant. To qualify an item as sterling silver, it needs to consist of at least 92.5% pure silver, where the other 7.5% is composed of other metals like copper. It’s distinguished by the numbers 925, sterling, STG, STER, or other markings indicating percentage that are stamped onto the piece as an indication of their quality.

Silver-Plated: Silver plating is generally more durable and less expensive. It is created using a process called electroplating. This is the use of electricity and an electrolyte, such as a cyanide solution, to cause tiny particles of silver to stick to a metal surface. The metal base is usually copper. The electroplating process runs until a decent amount of coating is built up, usually thousands of an inch thick. The coating is thick enough to be permanent and to allow the incising of often intricate designs.

Use a Magnet to Test for Silver Content

Another simple way to determine what your silverware set, or sterling silver is worth is to confirm its material with the magnet test. We recommend getting a strong magnet that you can find at your local hardware store, like an earth magnet.

The process is straightforward. Silver is non-magnetic, so if you hold the magnet near your chain, ring, tea service set, or coins, and your items are instantly attracted to the magnet, your items are not made of silver. Keep in mind that, on most necklaces or bracelets, clasps are not made of silver. Don’t worry if you only see a reaction from the clasp but not the rest of the piece.

If there is no reaction, it does not necessarily mean that you are in luck. The item could still be heavily plated or counterfeit, which is why we always recommend coming into our store and getting a professional assessment done.

Use a Cloth

Another easy way to tell if your antique silverware set is, in fact, silver, is to rub a white cloth on it. If your old silverware is silver, tarnish should come off and leave black residue on your cloth. This is because real sterling silver oxidizes when exposed to air. This builds up a layer of tarnish, which is why it’s so important to polish your pieces regularly – especially before you sell them.

Smell Your Silver

Silver doesn’t have a strong scent. So, if your old silverware has a brass or coppery smell to it, that means it contains metal and is unlikely silver.

Confirm the Purity

Once you have determined whether your item is made of precious metal, the next step is determining its purity. While there are "at home" ways of determining purity, they are not 100% accurate. If you visit our store to determine the value of your old silverware, we can use our XRF machine to determine the exact metal breakdown of your items.

Check for Hallmarks

The easiest way to determine whether your item is truly silver is to look for the hallmarks. Hallmarks are stamps/markings on the pieces that help indicate the purity of the metal, the manufacturer, and the date of manufacturing. 

 Keep in mind that British silverware made after 1700 will likely have four hallmarks. 

  1. The Lion: Representing the mark of sterling silver
  2. The Town: There will also be a mark representing the town the piece is made. For example, silver flatware made in London will have a leopard mark in this spot.
  3. The Letter: The letter mark (A-Z) represents the date of manufacturing
  4. Maker Mark: This is the mark of the silversmith, which is typically the maker’s initials

Silver Marks

According to Forbes, most silverware antiques will actually say “sterling” on the underside to indicate it is, in fact, sterling silver.  Look out for standard markings on that include:

  • .500 (50% pure)
  • .800 (80% pure)
  • Sterling/Ster/.925 (92.5% pure)

Location Marks

On silver flatware and tea settings, the common location of these marks is underneath or on the bottom of the piece. 

If your silver flatware was made outside the U.S, the chances are that it won’t say 925 or sterling. In fact, hallmarks on some British pieces can date back to the 14th century. 

If you are dealing with European or English flatware, check for a mark of a crest, lion, or crown. Early U.S. pieces on the other hand, will be marked with the phrase “coin.”

Unfortunately, these markings can be hard to see, especially on antiques or old silverware. This is why it’s a good idea to have an experienced set of eyes look at it.

Non-Sterling Marks

Like there are marks identifying silverware's validity, American marks have been used to identify old silverware made not of sterling or a lower-grade alloy.

These markings are discreet but indicate how many ounces of pure silver were used in the plating.

Common non-sterling American marks include:

A1: 2 ounces per gross teaspoons

AA: 3 ounces per gross teaspoons

EPNS: The mark of EPNS (Electroplated nickel silver) represents that the flatware was made of nickel, copper, and zinc covered by a pure silver later. 

Venetian Silver: The mark of Venetian silver represents that the flatware is made of a blend of silver and base metals, rather than pure silver. This flatware still contains silver, but its silver content is much lower than that of coin or sterling silver. 

Treble Plate: This mark represents that the flatware is made of a base metal coated by three levels of silver plating during the manufacturing process.

Silver Soldered: Other pieces may have a “silver soldered” mark to indicate that the piece is silver-plated and not solid silver.

Sterling Inlaid: Although this mark has the word sterling in it, it represents that the flatware is, in fact, not made of sterling silver. Watch out for this mark, as it can be misleading to the average eye.

Manufacturer Marks

Another defining factor of silver flatware’s worth is its manufacturer. Manufacturers of valuable antique silverware and their marks include:


Mark (Image or Phrase)

Alvin Silver

Alvin (Sometimes over a dragon)

Dansk Silver


Durgin Silver


Fine Arts Silver

Fine Arts Silver stamped in a Circle

Gorham Silver

G & the images of a Bear and Anchor

International Silver

International Silver or I. S. Co. Sterling

Kirk and Smith 

Kirk & Smith

Lunt Silver

Lunt Sterling

Oneida Silver

Oneida Sterling or Heirloom Sterling

Reed & Barton 

Reed & Barton

Rosenthal Silver 

Rosenthal or Rosenthal Sterling

Saart Brothers

Saart Sterling or SB Sterling

Tiffany & Company

Tiffany & Company Makers

Towle Silver

A Griffin inside the letter ‘T” (sometimes with the word Towle)

R. Wallace Silver

R.W. & S., Wallace Sterling & many more

Wheelock Silversmiths 

HandMade Sterling Wheelock Newport, R.I.


Individual Pieces VS. Sets

When assessing the value of your silver flatware, it’s also essential to factor in if you’re dealing with an individual piece or a complete antique silverware set.

Individual pieces can still hold value, specifically when they are harder to find pieces like:

  • Cocktail forks
  • Carving forks and knives
  • Barware
  • Demitasse spoons

That said, a complete antique silverware set that includes all serving pieces will typically sell for a higher value than an individual piece.

Identify the Condition

Even if you can identify the purify and manufacturer of your pieces, the most valuable silverware sets will be those in pristine condition. To assess the overall condition of your flatware, check for any corrosion or polish loss. If there's no or minimal corrosion or loss, the chances are that your pieces will hold a higher value. 

Rogers. Bros Silverware

Is your antique silverware Rogers Bros?If you know your old silverware, you may have heard about the Rogers Brothers or 1847 Rogers the brand is often known by. Rogers Brothers Silver goes back to the early 19th century when the company became a household name in 1847 after perfecting the process for electroplating to create iconic floral designs accented by sophisticated-looking flairs along the handle.

Despite common belief, you won’t get much money for their line of pieces. They were a common staple in every household, and there are a lot of them out there still, which brings down their rarity level. If you’re looking for something that may have value, look for pieces that were made before the Rogers Bros. were bought in 1898 by the International Silver Company. You can tell which Rogers Bros. pieces are from after this time period bythe “IS” (International Sterling) mark printed on the item, like on the backs of spoons and forks.

According to some reports, when it comes to identifying the date of old silverware, an elaborate design indicates that the piece was made before 1900. After Rogers Bros. was bought in 1898, the International Silver Co. simplified the design on all their pieces. Also, keep an eye out for specific patterns on the silverware. For instance, a popular piece manufactured in the 1930s features a design with interlocking rectangles.

Tips for Selling Silverware

Before selling old silverware, there are a few things to consider — and a few things you’ll want to do — before making a sale. Your possessions are valuable to you and you want to make sure they are being sold at the price they are worth. 

Consider our tips for selling silverware effectively and carefully: 

Identify What it is Made Of

Before selling silverware, identify what it is made of to get a better idea of its value. After all, real silver items are worth a lot more than those that are just silver plated.

Do Your Research on Sale Value 

Just like people will attempt to sell fakes, people will also try to buy your product for less than its value, under the assumption you have unvalued it. Do your research to ensure you are aware of current spot pricing for silver and have a realistic idea of what other similar items are going for. 

Get Your Silver Evaluated

Research is essential, but it’s also the first step when selling old silverware. If you want to have a more accurate idea of the value of your silver flatware or simply want to confirm your expectations, getting your silver evaluated by a professional is essential. Silver experts at Muzeum have a trained eye and can spot small details that can help identify the value of a piece of silver flatware.

Find an Ethical Buyer

Finally, do your research to find an ethical buyer. Browse reviews and do some digging on a buyer before selling your silver. 

Selling Old Silverware with Muzeum

When looking to buy and sell gold or silver, it’s best to trust a professional eye that has the right tools to do proper testing on your items. Sometimes, even with the knowledge, it’s difficult to appraise your items at home – either you have difficulty finding a hallmark or are not getting proper readings from your magnet. Only an XRF machine can really tell you the precious metal content of your item.

We are happy to help you identify the true value of your silver flatware. Visit us and get the Muzeum experience where you can trust you are being taken care of professionally and with your best interests in mind. Our methods of pricing are transparent, and you’ll always get the best prices for your items – guaranteed.

2 Responses

Randolph john
Randolph john

January 22, 2018

I have 5 old. 2 dollares bills. Cba 020484. But 2725698. Egs 2858085. Cbi 821517. Bgh. 2964994 how much is it worth to me tx me. At. 250 699 2704 Randolph john


January 09, 2018

I have a set of Rogers & Bros. silver. However I can’t find the pattern online. How can I have it identified?

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