Antique Sterling Silver

If you’re looking for elegance in the dining room, antique sterling silver flatware is the most stunning accessory for your dining room table.  Don’t just bring it out on the holidays, homeowners are keeping the dining room table set with the good china and silver to make the room look more homey all year long.

Antique silver can cost big, especially since the cost of silver is at its highest point in years, but if you know how to buy and where to look, you can put together a set worthy of any collection. 

If you’ve not been lucky enough to inherit a set of sterling silver, to purchase a new set of flatware will cost you thousands.   Start looking for a set in the secondhand market, antique shops, auctions, Ebay and online shops are a good starting point and offer some excellent values.

If you’re looking for one of the most fancy, elegant sets of sterling silver flatware, consider Kirk Steiff’s repousse patterns such as Steiff Rose.  Repousse is a term used often in sterling silver meaning embossed or raised decoration.   Here are some tips for purchasing sterling silver flatware, along with what you can expect to pay:

  • Almost all pieces that are sterling silver are marked as such – either with the word sterling or 925.  The 925 refers to the silver content, meaning it has a 92.5% silver content and qualifies as sterling.  It can be difficult to locate the mark, you may need a magnifying glass.
  • Often the pieces are marked with the maker’s mark as well. 
  • English sterling silver is hallmarked and may not read sterling, but may have a lion with a paw raised or a rearing lion which is called a standard mark.  The other marks indicate the date it was made and location.
  • If you’re shopping for a well-priced set of sterling silver, for regular sterling sets, if you can manage to purchase a set that breaks down to a cost of $10-$15 per piece, you are doing a great job, that’s darn close to what an antique dealer would pay wholesale.  For the more fancy, popular patterns such as Steiff Rose, expect to pay $15-$20 per piece for a good bargain.
  • Serving pieces are larger and cost more, the more serving pieces in the set, the higher the cost.
  • If a set is monogrammed, it decreases the value, some experts say up to 40% - but it depends on the size of the monogram.  A single initial does not decrease the value as much.
  • If you would like to put together a set of sterling a few pieces at a time, make sure you are buying the same exact pattern.  Patterns change over the years, just ever so slightly, so you really need to keep an eye on it.  If the maker’s mark shows different styles or wording in a set, then the set is called “assembled” meaning it was not an original set.  For example, Kirk Steiff pieces through the years are marked Kirk & Sons, S Kirk & Sons, Steiff Kirk and more.  If the marks vary within the set, you may be able to use that as a bargaining tool.

If you love the look of antique silver, and it does look stunning on a table bathed with candlelight, consider buying an antique set, to purchase new sterling silver flatware, you can expect to pay $30-$60 per piece – making that antique set look even better!