Silver Is A Great Deal

Collector Chats

May 20, 2022

Over the last few months, I have watched prices for antique silver slowly climb in price. When valuable metals jump on the open markets, there is a corresponding spike in the antiques world. For me, it is always sad to see these jumps since it means that I have to hunt that much harder to find pieces. Still, I continue to find wonderful pieces of silver that are so undervalued and unappreciated.
I was looking at a friend’s auction catalog, and he was showcasing a number of matched and mismatched silver sets. The estimates were all well below $1,000, and while I am sure the selling price will be over that, the end result will still be a bargain. What do I mean as a bargain? Something that sells for a price that will invariably change for the positive. Something that is of high quality and will be enjoyed for generations to come.
Much has been made about younger generations hating silver. Too bougie, not dishwasher friendly, not fitting into the great hall or kitchen dining experience. And yet, at a recent affair my daughters attended, the conversation among the Millennials and Gen Z was about their mistakes made in giving up family silver.
Several young women had been offered silver by their grandparents but refused it. The family silver was sold off, and now, as young adults, they regreted their decisions. They found they really wanted the silver back and to have the chance to enjoy the pieces when they were old enough to entertain. I suspect that despite all the purported downplaying of silver by many in their generation that they would love to be able to have the family silver back. Sometimes age and maturity counts for more.
Starting to collect silver is easy and can be as basic as acquiring serving pieces to use or as complex as a massive tea service. I am a big fan of coin silver and find that ounce for ounce, it is a great bargain. And if you are willing to pursue nontraditional national silver such as Austrian or Italian silver, you can find true bargains. Just the other week, I purchased a large .800 silver serving fork made in Austria for around $20. It was a lovely piece, made probably on the eve of the First World War, and quite the bargain.
Like all antiques, knowledge is key and critical to buying well. I encourage potential buyers to study marks and styles. Silver is one of those areas where styles do not always go out of fashion, so learning construction and marks is as important as learning styles. Conversely, because silver is very desirable, even out of period silver often has value.
So for parents or grandparents who are looking for that special gift for graduation, anniversary or another special occasion, I encourage you to think about silver as a gift. It will keep its value and give a lot of pleasure.

"Born to collect" should be the motto of Peter Seibert's family. Raised in Central Pennsylvania, Seibert has been collecting and writing about antiques for more than three decades. By day, he is a museum director and has worked in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Virginia and New Mexico. In addition, he advises and consults with auction houses throughout the Mid-Atlantic region, particularly about American furniture and decorative arts. Seibert's writings include books on photography, American fraternal societies and paintings. He and his family are restoring a 1905 arts and crafts house filled with years' worth antique treasures found in shops, co-ops and at auctions.
Peter Seibert

Peter Seibert

Peter Seibert, a native Pennsylvanian, grew up in the antiques business and remains closely tied to auction houses, collectors, and dealers. Professionally, he has served as museum director and public historian in Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Virginia. He holds an M.A. in American Studies from Penn State and has authored two books and numerous articles on decorative arts, interior design, and history.


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