Now Buying Sterling, Continental & Coin Silver Collections

Busby Antiques and Collectibles is always buying quality sterling, continental and coin silver. Whether you have 17th Century English Sterling, or modern flatware that is only 5 or 10 years old, we would love the opportunity to provide you with an offer to purchase!

When selling your fine silver, it pays to bring it to an expert that can accurately assess what you have; not only the age and rarity, but also the specific silver content. While a good rule of thumb here in the states is to look for the word “STERLING” on your items to determine if they are silver vs. silverplate, this only confirms that you indeed have sterling silver; it does not mean that items without the word “sterling” ARE NOT sterling. There are thousands of different marks that your silver could have that indicate you have a very valuable piece of nearly pure silver. You would be amazed how many silver buyers really can’t tell the difference between silver plate marks and continental or Asian silver marks. We can, and we pay you accordingly! That is why we say we are Honest, Fair AND Knowledgeable: we can truly be fair with our buying because we have the expertise to know what we are buying!

While we are interested in all types of silver, below are some of the specific areas of interest that we have:


US Coin Silver

Before the US informally adopted England’s Sterling standard (sometime circa 1860), US silver was often made with smelted US Coins. Coin silver, while similar in purity to sterling silver (.900 vs. .925, respectively), can be much more valuable as a collectible due to its potential age and rarity. Southern coin silver is especially desirable, as there was less wealth and fewer silversmiths in the Southern cities. Rarer still is Southern coin silver from smaller towns, such as Camden, South Carolina.

Pre-Revolutionary Silver

When countries experience political strife or instability, it is common for sterling silver (traditionally a store of wealth for many families) to be melted down and converted to cash. This has happened in every country that has experienced a major revolution: France, Russia, the US, etc. As a general rule, pre-revolution silver from these countries is much rarer than post revolution silver. Conversely, silver from countries with a long history of relative stability, such as England, is my less rare and typically less valuable when compared with pre-revolutionary silver of a similar period. That being said, there are great makers from every country, and a cool set of spoons made by Liberty and Co. of Birmingham, England circa 1910 can be worth quite a bit!

Pre-Revolutionary Silver

When countries experience political strife or instability, it is common for sterling silver (traditionally a store of wealth for many families) to be melted down and converted to cash. This has happened in every country that has experienced a major revolution: France, Russia, the US, etc. As a general rule, pre-revolution silver from these countries is much rarer than post revolution silver. Conversely, silver from countries with a long history of relative stability, such as England, is my less rare and typically less valuable when compared with pre-revolutionary silver of a similar period. That being said, there are great makers from every country, and a cool set of spoons made by Liberty and Co. of Birmingham, England circa 1910 can be worth quite a bit!

Japanese and Chinese Export Silver

I’ve always had a personal fondness for Asian silver, and am often buying these items for my personal collection. We are we always looking for Meiji Period Japanese sterling, or ornate figural Chinese Export hollowware by the likes of Wang Hing and many others. We also love Aesthetic Period Japanesque silver by the likes of Gorham, Tiffany & Co, Dominic and Haff, etc. We especially love mixed metal silver with applied copper and bronze bugs! Another area of Asian silver that we love is Indian silver; especially the highly ornate, hand chased pieces like those made in the Kutch region.

Continental Silver

Continental silver simply refers any European silver that does not conform to the English Sterling standard of purity. Just as early US silver was made from US Silver coinage, so too was early European silver. Due to the wide array of coins used in European countries, we find silver purities such as .830, .813, .750, .875, and many others. We also find different ways to measure silver purity, so we may see marks such as 84, 12 or 13. Many countries will not mark the silver with a specific purity mark, but rather with a symbol that represents a certain purity, or possibly just a town mark or an assayer’s mark.

At Busby Antiques and Collectibles, we pride ourselves in our extensive knowledge of European silver marks. We know enough marks by memory that we can usually give you a country of origin (probably 9 out of 10 times) right off the top of our head, and can identify about 99% of what we see with just a few minute’s research. Please don’t take your silver to a dealer that doesn’t know their antique silver marks. You may have your silver miss-identified as silverplate, and not receive full value for your treasures!

Scrap Silver

Let’s face it: some sterling is down-right ugly! That being said, there are many reasons that your Sterling or Continental silver may be worth more by weight than it would be worth than selling it as a collectible. Some of these are as follows:

  • Damage: Antique, high value hollowware and flatware should always be repaired or restored, but modern, common or low value pieces may be worth more by weight.
  • Modern flatware with a monogram: While most antique patterns have a monogram (and are usually expected to have one, else there may be a monogram removal), it is more desirable for modern flatware to have no monogram. For those patterns that are monogrammed, a single letter monogram is much more salable than a two or three letter monogram. Ask us to give you an assessment both ways, scrap vs. collectible value, to see which will net you a better price!
  • Extremely heavy pieces: We have encountered sets of English Sterling Flatware that are very plain in design, but that weight up to 2 times most comparable patterns. This is where the law of substitution comes into play: why would a consumer buy a set at twice the price, when a comparable set can be purchased at half the price? The only logical answer is as an investment in the intrinsic value of the sliver (i.e. selling at a scrap price). So it may be that we are not actually going to melt down the set, but the price we sell the set as will be based on weight, as that will far supersede the value as a collectible. Thus, we may weight your set, even though we don’t plan on scrapping it. This will help you get the most out of you sterling flatware!

Sheffield Silver and Silverplate

We often hear from our customers that they have been told that their silverplate is not valuable, only to have them bring in a fantastic collection of antique Sheffield Plate that is worth hundreds or thousands of dollars. Sheffield plate is typically valuable not for its silver content, but rather as an antique that could be over 100 years old. However, newer silverplate can also be of substantial value. Modern silver makers, such as Reed & Barton and Gorham, make very high-end silver plated hollowware that matches their more popular patterns of sterling flatware. For example, a 30 inch waiter’s tray in the Francis 1st pattern of sterling would probably retail for around $7,000.00. The silverplate equivalent in the King Francis pattern (which matches Francis 1st) runs around $400.00. We would hardly consider a $400.00 silverplate tray to have “no value”!

In addition to high end US makers, there is quite a lot of mid-century, modernist, or Scandinavian silverplate, or even stainless steel flatware this is not only very valuable, but can even be more expensive than most patterns of sterling silver! Think makers like Georg Jensen and Arne Jacobsen. Even Dansk stainless can be quite good if you have the right pattern.

It is true that most modern silverplate that we see is not too valuable. Much of what we see is bowls, platters and chafing dishes that were wedding gifts sometime between 1950 and 1970. As we mentioned before, these items that were purchased in the US would have the word “Sterling” stamped on the item if they were sterling as opposed to silverplate. That being said, it can be very tricky to find the “Sterling” mark on your silver hollowware. We would welcome the opportunity to fully assess your silver collection if you are considering selling. Call us to arrange an appointment, or you are always welcome to drop off the collection to have a full assessment within 48 hours. Since I can sometimes be very busy with appointments at clients’ houses, the drop off method can be a quicker way to have your collection valued. Also, if you are handy with a smart phone, feel free to text me pictures of the silver marks and items. This is usually enough for me to provide you with a high level overview of what you have, and will help me determine our level of interest in your collection.