Where to Sell the Family Silver

Until items have been valued by a specialist, you are unlikely to be aware of their true value


For centuries silver was omnipresent within a traditional home. From silver candlesticks on the dining table to little silver trays carrying calling cards, sideboards littered with ornate vases to large tea sets in the sitting room, and canteens containing silver cutlery services to match up to nine course meals, these long-cherished items represent lavish eras in history, often passed down through generations of a family.


silver cantennt

An extensive German silver Werkbund style (800) part canteen of silver flatware and cutlery by Franz Bahner & Co

Sold for £4,300



These days, society is far less formal and many of these pieces no longer serve the purpose for which they were originally created, making them decorative in value and often surplus to our needs.

Educating yourself about silver and how to determine any information the piece might offer is a worthwhile task. As we all know, items of value can end up at charity shops or in car boot sales, only to later appear on an episode of Antiques Roadshow! Whilst it is unusual to find museum worthy pieces in every home, it is quite common for something to be mistakenly disposed of because its true value has not been identified. 


Portuguese tea set

A Portuguese five piece teaset

Sold for £4,200


English silver has a long history of hallmarking, spanning 700 years. These small stamps can provide details of where an item was made, who made it and the exact year it was made. Hallmarking systems around the world vary, and it is certainly worth doing some research. Inscriptions, family crests and monograms can provide valuable information of the ownership history and provenance. As antique and contemporary silver is predominantly a collector’s market, determining this information can help to sift out the valuable pieces from the less fruitless examples.

While there are numerous organisations who will buy silver for scrap value – including pawnbrokers, it is worth consulting with an expert before considering this avenue. Silver that has stayed within a family remains unseen to the open market, therefore until items have been valued by a silver specialist, you are unlikely to be aware of their true history and value.


An oak cased Mappin and Webb canteen of silver

An oak cased Mappin and Webb canteen of silver

Sold for £2,100


Many silver dealers will purchase items directly from an individual, but keep in mind that they often purchase an item with a client in mind or for a collection within their store, meaning there are limitations on what each dealer would be willing to pay. We would always suggest consulting with at least three reputable dealers to ensure you get the highest price for your silver, but always remember dealers are looking to make a profit.

Here at Dawsons we have silver specialists who provide accurate valuations and complementary sales advice. Our friendly team of valuers would be happy to advise you about the nature and original purpose of a piece, information relating to its hallmarks, as well as any significant details that will make the silver commercially attractive within the current market. Whilst if an item is consigned with Dawsons, our bespoke international marketing ensures we always obtain the best possible price for our clients.


read more

How to tell if antique silver is real?

Where to sell antique silver



Do you have any silver that you are considering selling?

With a global audience of over 10 million, Dawsons can achieve the best price at auction.

Get in touch for sales advice today, we would be delighted to help you:

0207 431 9445 / info@dawsonsauctions.co.uk