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Service For Twelve

I'm considering selling my sterling silver flatware.

Money's been tight lately (especially after paying one-fourth of the funeral expenses) and this massive set of silver has been sitting in my basement for years. I rarely use it -- oh, sometimes I pull it out for holiday meals and grumble as I polish up a few forks and knives and spoons -- but mostly it just sits there in its velvet-lined mahogany case.

There is a tug, a desire to keep this stuff, for it really is lovely. It's a memory of the Art Deco 1920s, a time when you really needed a sterling silver service for 12 and a fish slice. The set was given to my great-aunt and great-uncle as a wedding present from her parents. A brass plaque on top of the case is engraved: 

Sue Wilson Whitney
February 25, 1922
Mr. & Mrs. Walter J. Whitney

The set has 126 pieces, more than I would ever need. There are dinner knives, butter knives, iced tea spoons, teaspoons, tablespoons, demitasse spoons, grapefruit spoons (with pointed tips and gold plated bowls), soup spoons, dinner forks, salad forks, and fish forks; 12 of each. There are three large serving spoons, a fish slice, and a meat server.


I don't expect to ever host a full-course dinner for 12; the few events I do host certainly do not fall into sterling silver territory. More like Chinet and plastic forks. Okay, maybe not all of them are that low-rent, but you get what I'm saying.

A little research tells me that I won't get much money for the set on eBay or other sites that buy sterling flatware largely because the pieces have my great-aunt's monogram.


Evidently monograms, while wonderful for the original owner, pretty much destroy the value of the set. Buyers want plain pieces.

The same goes for pawnshops; besides, I've watched enough Pawn Stars to know that I would be lucky to get a third of what it's worth, and that would be if one bought it at all. Even if a pawnbroker did buy it, he'd probably turn right around and sell it for the silver content.

Cut out the middleman, I always say. That leaves sites that buy silver and gold for refining.

I know that many (if not most) of these sites are total rip-offs and scams, but a couple seem promising, particularly one that prominently posts its prices on its site. I did a little off-the-cuff arithmetic and I could get over a grand for the set, assuming that what they post is what they do.

I also figure that I could actually keep a few place settings -- maybe four -- if I went the refinery route.

I'll do more research before I commit Uncle Earl and Aunt Sue's silver to the big refinery, of course. I suppose a big wad of money could actually drop out of the sky, but I have my doubts.