The most important thing to do in preparation for selling any silver plate is to make sure it's clean and looks presentable. Doing so will increase the perceived value of the item by potential buyers. With silver plated items tarnish is a major problem. Use a good silver polish to remove the oxidation and a soft, lint-free cloth to buff the surface of your tea and coffee set to a high shine.
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Things you need
- Silver cleaner
- Lint-free cloth
- Digital photos
Search for local antique shops. Call each one and ask if they take consignments. If so, ask how much commission is charged.
Take the set to the dealer asking for an estimated value. Deduct the commission that will be charged if and when the sale is made. Decide whether or not to consign the item.
If the decision is made to consign, insist on a written contract. The contract can be as simple as a written receipt stating date, name, address and phone number of owner, description of item, estimated value, terms of consignment including how long after the sale a check is mailed. Make sure the antique dealer signs the contract.
Sell on Consignment
Wrap up the tea and coffee set and go to a local antique show.
At the door, check to see if it's all right to bring the set into the exhibit hall.
Look for exhibitors who are selling silver plated items and ask if they will give an estimated value for the tea and coffee set. Beware of the antique dealer who immediately offers to buy the set. Take their offer into consideration and move on. Take this as a signal that the tea and coffee set has far more value than the amount the dealer is offering.
Remember--when selling directly to dealers they will offer a wholesale price, not retail, because they have to be able to make a profit when reselling the items.
Attend an Antique Show
Locate a medium- to high-end auction house. Either take the tea and coffee set in or take a digital picture and e-mail it to the auction house asking for it to be included in an upcoming auction. If it is accepted, the auction house's silver expert will give an estimated value of what he expects the set will go for at auction. If the item is turned down there may or may not be an evaluation given depending on the auction house.
If no evaluation of value is freely offered ask how much to have the set appraised by the in-house silver appraiser. Expect an appraisal to cost anywhere from £48 to £260 an hour.
If the auction house agrees to handle the tea and coffee set ask what commission will be charged. If it's acceptable, follow the shipping instructions and the deadline for getting the items to the auction house precisely.
Ask the auction house contact person what the payment schedule is. Depending on the auction house, expect to receive payment in 30, 60 or 90 days.
Sell Through Auction House
Tips and warnings
- Silver is best stored in a lacquered or polyurethane varnished wood box to slow down the rate of tarnishing.
- If the tea and coffee set is sent to an auction house you may be contacted after the fact and informed of additional charges, such as the cost of a picture of your item printed in the auction show catalogue. Be sure to ask for any and all hidden costs before making a commitment.
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