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Silver and Flatware/Towle Sterling


Mr. Stringer - thanks so much for your expert info delivered in easy to understand language. I'm selling  some sterling flatware. I got a quote from a local antique dealer - he uses troy ounces and the dollar amount of average price he has sold sterling in the past - which he states as $23. Does not seem like a good deal for me. I have read that troy ounces are rarely used. Today's spot price for sterling is $31.89. Any opinion on this method?

Hi, Michelin.

This dealer must be looking FAR into the past when calculating his average price. However, the price he quoted may not be unreasonable.

Suppose the dealer bought your set and then immediately sold it for scrap. The refiner he sold it to would collect a fee or commission so the dealer would not get 100% of the scrap price when he sold it. He would have to calculate his purchase price to allow for a profit. If this was the situation, his offer would be in line.

I always use Troy ounces because that's what the world silver market uses. Keep in mind also that sterling is only 92.5% silver. The spot price you quoted was, I believe, the spot price for pure silver, not sterling.

Hopefully, the dealer does not plan to scrap the flatware. If the pattern is popular, he may try to get a higher price based upon the pattern and condition.

For knives and other hollow handle pieces, I usually estimate around one-half Troy ounce of sterling in each piece. It's almost impossible to determine exactly what the true weight of sterling is in pieces like that.

I hope this helps. Feel free to ask a follow up question.

Best wishes,


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Jim Stringer


I answer questions about sterling flatware and other sterling pieces........... I answer value questions at I also author a blog at and write articles about silver at ........... Thanks to nominations from questioners, I'm listed in the Top 50 Experts for 2014 and 2015.......... NOTE: Please do not give me a verbal description of a pattern and ask me to identify it. Attach a picture if you need such help..........


Buyer and seller of sterling pieces for over ten years. Author of the blog, Sterling silver writer for

Publications;; "Selling_Your_Silver: A Guide to Finding a Buyer and Getting a Good Price (

BS, University of Alabama; MS, University of Maryland

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