Selling sterling silver?

ccarrollSeptember 28, 2012

There isn't really a good forum for this, but I thought I'd ask here. I'm hoping to sell my mother's silver - flatware and some serving pieces. And I feel that I'll get much less if I sell to a store, of course. Do you know any specialized websites that would be good for that kind of thing? Not general places like Ebay, but maybe silver collectors.

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Well...I will tell you it is worth more as flatware...probably...than it is as scrap.
And I will tell you that you will get more for it if you can sell it to someone who wants it not someone who will resell it....and I can tell you t=hat some patterns are worth a lot more per troy oz than others.
But why do you want to sell the set? Do you need money, fallen on hard times?
Just because "sterling doesn't fit your life style" doesn't mean that some day you won't like it. Do you have children? Nieces or nephews?.

I think that in not too many years the number of sterling patterns made will not be very many and that the value of a set of sterling, if the pattern is attractive will increase a lot.
I have collected a set of 20 place settings plus lots of extras for my grand daughter. My daughter has 15 place settings in her silver and she inherited my mother's silver. My son and his wife have service for 18 and use it often, and I have service for 16 in one pattern and for 9 in another.....and I use it every day.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:11PM
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I knew Linda would have information for you; she knows her silver!

    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:25PM
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I agree with Linda that you should not sell it unless you are desperate for money - it will only increase in value and is a better investment than a lot of other things. If, however, you want to buy a house and need the cash to help with the down payment, I would recommend trying to sell it to a relative, especially if you have no heirs to leave it to as it was left to you.

The first thing I removed from my mother's house after she died last month was her sterling silver, and I took it to my sister's house so that she could store it securely. I do not yet know which of us she wants to have it, but I would never consider selling it, even though the pattern is not my taste. I have some Art Deco silver of my own that I bought at an antique shop that had just gotten it from an estate sale. It was black with tarnish, but I could still read "sterling" on it even though the owner of the antique shop could not, and so I got the few pieces for cheap - just six dessert fork and six dessert spoons.

I think there are stores where you can sell on consignment and get a better price than if you sell directly to a store. I still think it should stay in your family, however.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2012 at 7:46PM
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I agree with keeping it, if you can. And using it, too, for what is the point of having it if it sits in its box?

I use mine every day, and even though I would have chosen a very different pattern, I love that it was my grandmother's. She died before I was born, but using it makes me smile every time I open the drawer.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 10:11AM
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Go to Replacements and figure out what pattern it is, and what pieces you have. Go to eBay and search "completed auctions" to get a sense of how much this pattern sells for. You need to finds several conpleted auctions for that pattern, don't rely on one or two, eBay prices are quite variable. That should give you a rough idea about how much value you're talking about.

As to where to sell it, I don't know if there are specialized websites. As Lindac says, you want to sell directly to the end user, not to a middleman. I imagine you can unload the set to a dealer like Replacements right away -- for 20 cents on the dollar. For a good balance between price and speed, eBay works pretty well. Collectors look there, non-collectors too, it is the biggest global audience available.

How well you do on eBay will depend on your marketing skills, how well you photograph the silver, if you polish them up, host the images on a site so your ad can embed lots of good pictures, etc. In general, you will get more if you sell a few pieces at a time, but it will take longer. You have to put some work into it to learn how to sell on eBay and get best results. Depending on the value of the pieces, it may or may not be worth it. There are also places that consign on eBay.

Should you sell it? I wouldn't, because I love dining with silver and it was your mother's. It is also likely an appreciating asset, for the silver content alone. But there's no one right decision. Someone needs to sell their family heirlooms for others to be able to collect them.

Maybe post a picture, you might get some opinions on value or at least if the pattern looks attractive and sellable. Is that "sellable" or "saleable"? You can't offer the items for sale here, but that doesn't mean people can't choose to contact you.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 11:03AM
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Some jewelry stores and antique stores will take sterling on consignment. An antiques appraiser may be able to help with value, or an auction house that specializes in antiques. You could do a Google search for sterling silver specialist or appraiser or seller, too.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 4:12PM
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I, too, hope you'll consider keeping it--once gone, you won't be able to get it back. I have my grandmother's silver, and even though I never use it, I wouldn't think of selling it unless I truly was down to my last dime.

You can sell to replacements, or some jewelry stores, or pawn shops. But a place like replacements is at best going to give you about half what the silver is worth retail--which is fair, because they aren't a charity, and they need to make money, too. Most places aren't even going to give you scrap value--unless this is a very well-sought out pattern, the pieces are most likely going to be melted down for scrap. If that's the buyer's intention, you're only going to get about half that. Bottom line is that you're very unlikely to get for the silver what YOU think it's worth.

Look, there's only one way to know, though--take a piece or two, and a list of the others you have, and pop into a few places in your area. Antique shops, pawn shops, jewelry store, etc, and see what you're offered. I'd recommend NOT taking the whole set with you--that will mean you have to take a little time to think things through before you make your final decision.

Also, before you decide, check silver values--aren't they pretty low right now? Or have they started going back up again? I know someone who deals in silver was recently complaining about how very low it's gone lately--but can't recall exactly when that was.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 4:45PM
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For what it's worth, I have also thought about selling my grandmother's silver. I took it off my dad's hands about ten years ago when he had to sell this old mouse-infested building that he was storing some of my grandmother's stuff in. It had sat in storage for about 20 years. It isn't a whole set, it isn't in very good shape, and it isn't a very nice pattern, IMHO. And to me, it has zero sentimental value because I absolutely never recall my grandmother using it, and we used to go over there for Sunday and holiday dinners regularly. Her china, on the other hand, is in TERRIBLE shape, all cracked and chipped, but because of those Sunday dinner memories I can't bring myself to throw it out. It also has her initials on it. For all I know, Bubbe might have gotten the silver at a garage sale or as scrap, since they were in the scrap business. Or someone could have given it to her and she didn't want to go to the trouble of trying to sell it. But I do need money and to me it is practically scrap anyway. But if I won't get enough value out of it to sell it I guess it isn't worth it. It is definately just silver going to waste, IMHO. I am not about to use it, it no longer fits our family's lifestyle. When I entertain I do so informally. It doesn't go with anything I have in my house. Oddly, I have both grandmother's china sets, and they go together wonderfully. I get them out at holidays. I haven't even seen my MOM's silver in about 25 years, she no longer has me around to polish it so doesn't use it! That is a nice set and does have some sentimentalo value.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 7:01PM
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Grandma sold her silver when I was small, it was that or go hungry so the silver went to pay to live after my Grandpa died. I've asked each of her daughters (my mother and my Aunt Ronni) and her daughter in law, and all say they didn't care and didn't want it, they'd all polished it enough in their lives. I do have some of Grandma's cooking utensils, which did get used often, and they are important to me, although they are worth pretty much nothing to everyone else.

I have Elery's mother's set, it's silverplate and not sterling. I've never used it and I did buy silver polish but have never gotten around to polishing it either. I doubt that we'll ever use it but it does have sentimental value to Elery. He also has a silver tea set that was a gift to his parents for their 50th anniversary, we've never used that either although it's quite beautiful when polished.

So, if you like it, it suits your life style, keep it and use it. If not, and if no one in the family wants it, get rid of it.

Everyone is different. Some people like specific things, others don't really care about them but want other things. (shrug) It's the way of the world, we're all different.

Think about it carefully, though, before you sell a family heirloom. It may be more important to you or another family member than it is to anyone else.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 2:29PM
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I have some lovely sterling, a gift from my MIL. I also have some silver plate, and quite a lot of it. And all of it engraved with the letter A. I'm sure she was happy to pass it along as she was remarried to a letter R. :) But it occurs to me that I will have to remain a letter A rather than return to my maiden M. I hadn't planned to bother doing so anyway nor do I plan to remarry so I suppose all is well. I guess my son shall ultimately acquire all the letter A silver plate. I have never once used it. The sterling has seen the table, however. So pretty.


    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 10:41PM
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Eileen, the old custom was that the bride's silver was monogrammed with the initial of her maiden name. So Alice is an appropriate recipient too, even if she changes her name. :-)
I have a lovely silver serving fork with an "F" on it, because my aunt's (my uncle's wife's) maiden name was "Farrell." I almost gave it to the daughter of a close friend when she married an "F," but was glad I didn't because they got divorced and she went back to her maiden name.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 1:32PM
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Honestly, I think one day I will take the sterling silver and fancy Limoges china and sell the whole bunch. I never use it and there are other things I'd rather have, or take a trip and enjoy the memories.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 4:55PM
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Ded...I am sorry for you....
A regard for the past, for the niceties in life and the desire to pass that love of a little pomp and circumstance, or just plain genteel living is very important to me....and I believe I have imbued my kids and most of the grands with that regard. For without some of the niceties of life, we are little better than the chimps or bonobos.
I don't know how much nor what kind of silver and china you have, but unless you have a huge set of all and a rare set of china, you would be very unlikely to get any more than $2,000. For any where I could go for that money I would rather the memories of the china and the parties it's seen...
It might buy you a first class upgrade on a long plane trip....but I'd rather be cramped for 8 hours and still have the china and silver. each his own...

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 6:48PM
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LindaC, I wouldn't be sorry for anyone else just because "things" are not important to them. A person can be just as civilized with a piece of flatware from Sam's Club as they are with sterling silver, and priorities are different for all of us.

Kindness, love of family and friends, charitable thoughts, good deeds to mankind in general are all things that differentiate us from the chimps, with or without silver and china. I know mean-spirited and self important people who would never do a good deed, but they have lots of very expensive possessions. I'd rather sell the silver and give the cash to a food bank than keep something that has no meaning to me just to have it.

Possessions are not necessary for memories and dedtired's trip would just make more memories if that's what she enjoys. If it means something, keep it. If it doesn't, get rid of it and find something that DOES mean something instead of cluttering life with "stuff" that never gets used.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 5:13PM
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Linda, did you just call me a chimp and a bonobo? Hmmm. It's a good thing I like animals.

We have so damn many things to pass down in our family it is getting to be a royal pain. There must be five full sets of silver, the Limoges, the Spode, even a set of Noritake. There are silver tea services and platters. On top of that are the sets of crystal glasses, mostly Waterford.

Let's not even get into the jewelry, although I do love that because not only is it beautiful and full of memories, it also doesn't take up much space.

It seems that lifestyles are getting more casual all the time. Houses are now being built that don't even have formal dining rooms. My one niece lives in a condo in Manhattan and barely has room for every day stuff, much less sets of fancy china.

Frankly, I find that stuff to be a burden. It has to be stored carefully, and I have no space for it. Home break-ins are common around here, and silver and jewelry must be kept hidden, making it a PITA to dig it out when you want to use it, then hide it away again.

Then we also have the collection of Boehm birds and Herend roosters and rabbits. Oh yes, the copper pots and pans, too.

I will offer all the fine china, etc, to my three nieces some day. They already have all of the above from their other grandmother and from their mother (my late sister). I have never seen them use it even once. With the addition of mine and my mother's, they will be drowning in the stuff. My sons (both single) have already said no thanks.

I do appreciate and treasure SOME of these things, but after a while it feels like the stuff owns you instead of the other way around.

So, yes, I guess I would rather be a chimp that swings from the trees and enjoys an unfettered life rather than sitting home polishing the silver in order to feel mannerly and well-bred.

And it's a darn good thing that we are friends, or I might have taken offense at that remark. And thank you, Annie.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 5:50PM
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I am no where near drowning in "stuff." But there is some stuff and to some degree I understand Pam's point. I will pass it on to the kids but they are a long away from being ready to take a cabinet full of Waterford glasses and decanters and Grandmother's china and some other crystal. Alice has made it clear whenever I bring something home that she plans to have a big tag sale. Her tastes may change with maturity or sentiment, but maybe not. I feel obligated to hang onto the stuff because much of it wasn't mine to begin with, it was given to me. It should be passed along and the kids can decide if they want keep it or not.

In the meantime I want to downsize, a LOT. Sigh.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 7:06PM
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Annie, that was eloquent! Where is the "Like" button? (Oh, now I remember you don't use Facebook. I just mean I agree with you 1000%! ;-)

I feel sentimental about using the everyday, practical "stuff" I inherited from my mother and MIL (a vegetable bowl, a dish towel, a nut-grinder, a colorful ceramic platter for corn on the cob), but I have little use for the ornate crystal and silver pieces I received from my MIL (though I loved her dearly).

And now, since my cousin came to live with us, I have a complete set of my aunt's china and silver--as well as *her* mother's silver! The patterns are dated--I'm sure they were stylish in the 1950s, and there must be somebody out there who would like them, but I don't. (Besides, I have my own silver, which I don't use often enough as it is.) My cousin says they have no sentimental meaning for him, either, so I would like to sell them and use the proceeds to contribute to his support. They're too valuable to just give away. I was interested in the OP's original question, as the china and silver are still in packing boxes in my home, awaiting a plan of action. I was considering selling to Replacements, but I'm sad to read here that they pay so poorly.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 8:44PM
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I had a mother who believed that too much stuff was a burden....and she gave away, sold or simply trashed many things I would have liked to have. Things like china, glassware, furniture, diaries, jewelry etc. So perhaps I have a skewed view of getting rid of stuff....
I remember my grandmother selling jewelry to finance a trip to Miami...back in the 1940's. I remember my mother giving her mother-in-law's glassware away....because she didn't particularly like her and didn't want to store her glassware....not that she needed the room, it was stored in the linen closet in the maid's quarters...there was no maid!

My mother bought sterling late in life, her mother's family lost everything but some jewelry in the Patterson fire in 1902. My mother's father was one of 8 children. There are very few things that made it to my house.

Unfortunately my family didn't have sets and sets of Haviland and Herend and sets and sets of sterling. What nice things we have are precious and imbued with memories of Christmas dinners and even hanging spoons from our noses...(some may remember the pictures).
Perhaps if I had many many sets of china and sterling silver none would be the source of memories and I could conceivably sell a set or 2....but I don't.
I have 2 sets of sterling....and one I am completing for my grand daughter. I use the sterling daily, I eat my morning toast from fine china, and drink my wine from a Waterford glass....and my Scotch from a Waterford double old fashioned glass....not every day with the Waterford, but often enough.
Maybe if I felt I had to hide the nice things in my house I would use stainless and melmac....but I try not to live scared, although I have been a victim of theft in the past 4 years.

I still say that the lovely things that your parents and grandparents collected and entrusted to you should be saved for your descendants.

Eileen....I agree with you....we are but custodians of the "stuff"....and need to take good care of it. My mother had no feeling for my desire to have grandma's amethyst earrings..."Why I didn't even have pierced ears"...
I know my children and some of the grands appreciate nice china and silver.
And don't need to have a "formal dining room" to use nice things...sterling and white haviland look lovely on a checkered table cloth with a canning jar of daisies.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 11:46PM
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Reading this reminds me of an analogous story: Several years ago my father took on a project to put together our family geneology. He was able to amass a lot of information going back several generations, and found some interesting documents in boxes of family "stuff" that had been passed down over the years. (Including a note to one of my ancestors hand-written by Abraham Lincoln - which I had confirmed as authentic by an auction house!) I recall him telling a friend about the project and her response was, "I don't get it, who cares, why does it matter?"

Like Linda, I'm sad about several things that my parents have gotten rid of over the years without consulting me first. It's interesting what is and is not sentimental to us. My parents have an extensive set of china which has been used for every "special" dinner my entire life. I don't know what I'll do when it gets passed down to me; many nice memories but I don't particularly want it. On the other hand, there's the silver chest with multiple sets, including two silver, one bone and one mother of pearl. The silver hasn't been used since I was a small child and they switched to stainless, and I don't recall the bone or mother of pearl ever having been used. That stuff though, I wouldn't get rid of if I was down to my last dime.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 9:15AM
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And so, you see, that's why I said everyone has different priorities, different wants and needs, different histories and backgrounds. No one person should assume that their wants/needs/wishes are the same as anyone else's. If it means something to you, keep it. If you are going to get rid of it, offer it to family members first. I would no more expect my parents or grandparents to keep something for years or decades so that I could have it when the time comes than I would expect them to buy me a house. No one owes anyone anything. We all must make our own way. If Grandma loved the silver and you do too, hooray. If not, buy your own and make your own memories, it's just "stuff" or on the other hand, offer it to family members.

My mother had no choice, she was 12 when Grandpa died and everything was sold to feed three children. My Grandmother never remarried and she eventually moved to Michigan because there was family here with a farm who was willing to let them stay.

My father's side never even owned any. They were Irish immigrants who came to Canada during the potato famine and married Native American wives. Definitely nothing there in the way of "stuff".

What we "inherited" was a strong work ethic, a love for the land that sustains us, the belief that we were put here to do good, even when it's difficult. I was the second person in my family ever to go to college. Dad was inordinately proud of that but made sure that he reminded me that education does not equate intelligence, nor does the lack of it denote the lack of intelligence. Much of it is opportunity. I was in my late 30s and had two children and a full time job before I could afford to go to college, but I went. My family didn't help me, I did it myself. When it came time for my girls to go to college I sold everything I could, expended every dime of savings, got a refinance on the house but they went to college. I'd do the same for my grandhcildren and I think that'll be more useful to them than earrings or forks.

I've never worn jewelry and have no interest in it. Amanda inherited my indifference to jewelry. Ashley loves the stuff. That does not mean I'm going to go out and buy diamond earrings and keep them in a drawer for years so that she can have them when I die. She can buy her own.

Everyone is different and I don't feel sorry for anyone simply because they are different than I am, or have different wants and needs, or believe differently. I also do not believe that material possessions make you any better or worse than anyone else, nor does it denote mankind's civilization or lack thereof. That's borne out by what's inside, not by what you have or inherit or acquire.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 10:10AM
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Annie, that is eloquent.
I feel as if I understand both "camps"-- not in the sense of judging what anyone should do, since clearly there's no single "right way" to deal with family possessions.
Let me explain. I love my silver partly because of its place in a story much like Annie's. My mother's family came from Ireland with nothing, and worked for years in unspeakably bad conditions. Then came the time when they had enough money to own something pretty. Great-grandmother Callahan's cranberry glass lemonade pitcher from about 1890. My mother's silver flatware. Her art deco tea set. I imagine the pleasure it gave them to have some lovely things after being poor. These possessions are just things, but they connect me to people I knew and loved, and to those I never got the chance to know.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 12:45PM
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I agree. That was very well written, Annie. I agree with you.

I'm an amateur genealogist and family historian. I'm the one in our family that keeps all the family pictures, vital records, marriage ledgers, etc. So, I guess it's no surprise that I love family heirlooms.

I have two sets of sterling flatware - both the same pattern. One belonged to my mother and the other to her sister, my aunt. They purchased them the same day shopping together at Gotchalk's (sp?) in Fresno in 1954. I inherited Mom's when she died in 1970 and Aunt Lela's in 1997 when she decided it was time. Both sets are priceless, to me. I have about 100 pieces of green depression that was used in my maternal grandparent's BBQ restaurant in Walla Walla, WA. That also means a lot. And, I have the family Sandwich glass cakeplate dating to 1864. It held my great-grandparent's wedding cake and is noted in the family Bible next to the entry for their marriage. All birthday cakes and wedding cakes in my family have been served from that cakeplate. I will pass it to our youngest child when the time comes. The family Bible went to the oldest on their 30th birthday. Our middle child will inherit the sterling flatware. Family history and family memories and family stories passed generation to generation. All a part of who we are and where we came from.

I recently purchased sterling flatware for my DIL. I will dole it out to her for, probably, the remainder of my life. In so doing, I will create memories between us that she will pass down to her children. "Your grandma gave me this sterling a little bit every year and every time I opened her package we laughed together."

But, I also don't hang on to every little thing. Too much "stuff" becomes "junk", to me. I no longer have much of what I inherited from Mom. Not that they were not beautiful - they were (hopefully, still are just somewhere else). But, I realized that handing down 8 crystal wine glasses meant much more than giving boxes and boxes of "stuff". A single treasure's worth increases with it's rarity, again IMO. DH and I have a broad collection of American period antiques carefully put together over 30 years. We will give each kid - one. The rest will be sold so as not to be a burden to our estate. We asked if they had a preference but in the end it will be the two of us that decides what we want them to have as a reminder of us. What they each do with those items will be entirely up to them. They will be gifts from us and gifts should not have strings attached.

Either way, keep or sell, is just fine. Every family has a story. Every story is unique. There is no "one size fits all".


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 2:26PM
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Tricia, your mention of presenting things at a certain time, or to the youngest child, reminds me of a story I have to share.
My father's older sister died before I was 21. Some years later, her husband gave me a little envelope with a gold piece in it. It said, "Gold piece given to my father as the eldest son, and to me by my father as the eldest, on my 21st birthday. To be given to Karen on her 21st birthday."
My father had never heard about it. Look what happened here: a man born in 1876 had a decision to make. Does he give the gold piece to his eldest child or to his eldest son? He gave it to his daughter. So I know something about this man who died very long before I was born, and about our family. My daughter has the gold piece now.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 3:34PM
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I can see both sides as well. What means the world to one may hold no value to another.

All I have to add is that I am envious of anyone that has anything that has been passed down in their family! LOL

My mom holds absolutely no sentimental value for anything, therefore I own NOTHING that ever belonged to any of my grandparents, and the only thing I have from my own parents is a small wooden box that my dad made in shop class when he was in school. Absolutely no monetary value but I would never part with it except to give it to one of my kids at some point in time.

What I wouldn't give to have some lovely silver or srving pieces that once graced a dinner or holiday table in my family tree!


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:24PM
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All the stuff my family has did not come down through the generations. My mother bought most of it, in fact, all of it. Of course, my sister and I got china, silver etc for our weddings.

One of my treasures is a majolica pitcher shaped like a fish. It belonged to my grandmother. She was poor as a church mouse and I don't know where she ever got it. She gave it to my mother. I used to love to look at it when I was a kid. Now my mom gave it to me.

Annie, I love what you wrote. Your family's story is the story of most Americans. They came here for a better life. I do understand wanting to have beautiful things to pass along, but it can get overwhelming and more of a burden than a treasure. Sometimes the sentimentality of it can weigh you down, when you just cant bring yourself to get rid of stuff because of the memories, and you are drowning in stuff. It owns you instead of you owning it.

It would be wonderful to have old letters and documents. I find those things to be fascinating.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 7:47PM
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There are few things from my side of the family. The "fancy" stuff came from my in-laws and my ex. I have a few treasures from my grandmother. A old rug from Mexico, made by Indians, dyed with vegetable dyes. It was my wedding gift from my grandmother. And a silk quilt made by my great-grandmother. Somewhere there are some sterling grapefruit spoons and crystal knife rests and a very few other things. My grandmother had a small chest of things that she treasured from her family. My mother has it now. She sent me the silk quilt but has lost track of the other things. And they have likely been stolen by her "helpers." Many things were. A sad story for another time.

The Waterford and china and sterling came from my MIL and ex. It has no huge sentimental value for me but I am the keeper. These things will go to Daniel and Alice. For now the crystal is pretty in the lighted cabinet. And I have fabulous stuff for a dinner party. Or the odd guest who wants a Scotch on the rocks. The Baccarat Massena flutes are rather grand as well. Those were wedding and other gifts.

It's stuff. I try not to lust after stuff. Mostly I succeed.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 11:03PM
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Well said, Annie!!

I think collecting shiny things makes us more like chimps rather than less like them. And we've all got different shiny things that we like best. As Linda said, we are a product of our environments too. It's interesting how a lot of the people on Hoarders had a traumatic experience with a house fire, robbery, etc. I have dust allergies, was raised in a cluttered house, no one moved or threw away my stuff even after I went to college, and I've lived in like 9 places in the past 10 years. I think it was a perfect storm for creating a minimalist (and I try to be understanding of other people, because I think my lack of attachment to stuff had very little to do with any kind of morals or choices on my part). I politely decline family heirlooms. If people ignore me, I feel within my rights to sell it or give it away. If it evokes strong, pleasant memories for me, I might keep it. I don't usually have need of anything I've gotten rid of, and I don't find it to be a very painful experience when I do. I usually decide it wouldn't have been worth lugging it around, storing it, and trying to find it again.

eBay is usually a pretty good option for selling antiques, because you reach so many people. But you also lose a big chunk of the money with seller fees and paypal fees. Are there any auction houses near you?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 5:14AM
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Auction houses will take an even stiffer fee.

My problem is a lot weightier. Mainly, Mother's furniture. Really excellent Mid-Century Modern Knoll pieces. Dinner table for 12 (actually two tables, one with a leaf and another separate matching square "card table", 10 chairs (all of which desperately need to be reuphol$tered) and a bunch of other pieces. We talk about down-sizing to a smaller house, but how do I get rid of the heavy stuff? The consignment stores are all 100 miles away, and they also take a chuck of the money, nothing local. I refuse to go the Craig's List route and deal with the garbage replies, besides we are still miles from the big city anad I will not ship anything. It's specialized stuff, and would be treasured by someone who appreciates it, but it's all be used daily since Mother got it for the new house in 1960.

Oh, and there's also Finnish crystal. The silverware doesn't take up a lot of room.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 4:03PM
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I don't know for sure, but I think by the time you pay eBay fees, PayPal fees, and shipping + postal insurance costs, you might come out behind. Especially because you don't have in-person viewing and instant gratification working for you, so the selling price might be lower.

But there is also a section called 'eBay local' or something where you allow local pickup only. It's not very well used, so you would want to list a selling price rather than do it auction style, and you'd probably wait a few months to get a buyer, but if you have flexible morals, you could also probably easily circumvent the seller fees by taking a check or cash in person and then just removing the listing. I think the fee to post a listing is very low, maybe less than a dollar, so it couldn't hurt to try. It's the percentage of sale price where you lose all the money. I don't know anything about consignment or antiques dealers, so have no idea whether that pays any better.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 5:17PM
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An quality auction house will charge you 15%-20%. A lesser quality auctioneer will charge 15%. If you have enough consider having an on-site auction. You'd need enough to draw people from miles around though.

Twice DH & I have auctioned virtually EVERYTHING in the house (one on-site auction and the other was held in a hotel ballroom). That's how we were able to afford our current collection, buying small, selling, upgrading by purchasing fewer but higher quality items.

We have also sold good (not super high end) antiques through a normal garage sell just before we moved to Mystic as part of our down sizing. I sold a hand-colored 1854 map of New Hampshire that way for $690 and also a c. 1770 Vermont tavern table for $2,650. Also sold a bunch of stuff in the $400-$800 range. That garage sale was in 2002.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 5:46PM
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Sushipup - people will give you an arm and a leg and come to your home with a truck to take your Mid-century furniture. I went to Palm Springs Modernism week this year, and tried and tried to find a couple of chairs - also on the lookout for a Danish-style secretary desk I can use as a vanity.

Very little quality stuff to be found, and $$$$$ for anything you do find, of any quality. That style is sizzling hot and expensive as heck.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 5:47PM
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This Knoll dining set from 1960 with 10 chairs and an 8 foot table sold for $8,500 on eBay, and so Helene, you may want to reconsider your options. Depending on what you have, someone may be willing to come to your house to help you unload your furniture! You should check underneath for a designer name - that will make all the difference. I bought my dining furniture at an estate sale across the street from my house, and it is a 1960 American reproduction of a design by Hans Wegner, but if it had been the original Danish production, it would have cost me ten times as much.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:33PM
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Lars, I have Florence Knoll all-walnut tables and Saarinen wood and upholstered chairs that are still made. Nope, I've talked to people in SF, they only want items in better condition. I also have a walnut and steel bench from Florence, and a couple of Wegner folding chairs, and a McCobb chair ( and assorted other pieces. I've talked to dealers, etc.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 9:04PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I agree with everything you said too, Annie.

I have a nice set of sterling and I imagine when I am older, I will sell it along with anything else that is burdensome. We don't have kids, so no one to pass stuff down to.
Hopefully I won't need the money and will be able to leave a legacy, of some sort, to people and organizations that I'm passionate about, mainly animal rescue societies and such.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 9:26PM
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I hear Annie and I don't disagree but I don;t agree either. I have nothing of any particular importance from my family except my Mom's family ring and my Nana's wedding ring. You'd have to kill me for them because they were theirs and they tell a story.

We were at Clive's cousins the other day. She is 82, sharp as a tack, no messing with her...she just finished writing a historical novel of the area she grew up in.

We have been there often and I'm always in awe of the "stuff" she has. This lady grew up in a log house built by her Dad and Mom during the depression .... which she still owns! Her Dad worked the railway, no silver spoon but somehow her Mom and grandmother managed to have some special things. Lovely China, sterling, lots of antiques. Everything has a story. What I really love about it is that Betty uses it all every single day. She says it is part of who she is and it needs to be used.

I love this lady to bits...she has so much "stuff" but she can tell you a story about each and every thing. Including the over 100 tea cups given to her over the years by her kindergarten students. She taught kindergarten for almost 30 years!!!! Which makes her a saint right there! She bought a very expensive antique china cabinet just for the tea cups. Not one of which is likely worth much but to her they are invaluable. There is stuff and then there is stuff.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 5:44PM
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Chase, it's obviously important to her. I've said that if it means something to you keep it, and if it means something to your family members, give it to them.

However, if it means nothing, there is no emotional connection and no one else in the family wants it, then it's just "stuff".

Grandma never had much extra, she never even learned to drive and had no education beyond high school. She lost a baby at 5 months to small pox and a son at about age 7 or 8 who was hit by a milk truck coming home from school. Her husband died when my mother was 12. She was a "washer woman", a cook for a more well-to-do family, a house keeper, whatever she needed to do to feed her children. Life was not kind to Grandma but she always knew someone who was "worse off" or "needs it more than I do". That's what she spent her money on. I don't believe she was no better than an ape because she used every spare penny to help other people instead of buying china with it.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2012 at 11:54PM
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My grandmother was raised by a mother who was widowed when she was very young...her mother lacked the resources to earn money...
My grandmother had to quit school in the 4th grade she could read and write but certainly not well.
Her mother also never had a thing growing up....they were poor farm laborers or other laborers.
After my grandmother was grown, her mother married a widower who had inherited a few nice things from his wife....and so great grandma inherited them when he died.
But since this was in the days before Social Security, she had nothing but some "stuff"....and went to live with my grandmother and grandfather....but my grandfather couldn't stand his mother in law and didn't want her living there, so she went to live with one of her grandmother's step brothers.....fully 25 years younger than she was. They lived in a one bedroom apartment and Great Grandma slept on the sofa and when they had company who stayed late, grandma laid her head on the kitchen table and tried to sleep.
Gradually the "stuff" disappeared, either through neglect or it was sold, all but The Mirror.
When my parents moved into a big old 1903 house with a 3rd floor with 3 bedrooms and a bath, they asked my father's grandmother to come live with us. she had her own bedroom and bathroom and room for her little rocker and dresser.....and she arrived with The Mirror under her arm, saying "Where I go this mirror goes"...When she had lived at her daughter's it was in the attic, when at her son's it was under the bed. My parents hung it over the mantle!
I have it's over my mantle.....a beautiful wide framed, gold leaf oval mirror.
It's now part of my "stuff". Who doesn't prize things like that because Great Grandma who had nothing married a man who's wife came from a family that valued nice things and she valued the mirror as a nice thing that she had never had before? She saw that it wasn't left sitting behind the furnace and during the 5 or 6 years she lived with us, she loved looking at it. Now I love looking at it and remembering how proud grandma was to see HER MIRROR hanging in a prominent place of honor.

Apes don't seem to value family history nor things and don't connect things to people who are no longer around. People are reminded of their history by artifacts....humans also have a sense of the aesthetic seemingly lacking in animals. Animals don't have museums where they see how their ancestors lived....perhaps because they are living just like their ancestors did.

My daughter uses her grandmother's sterling, I hope she will pass it to her grand daughter. If I had considered it just clutter and sold it for the thousand or so I could have gotten for it, my great grand daughter would not, I hope, be reminded frequently of her great great grandmother's taste in silver.

I also have my great grandmother's pie tin, the other great Grandma. It's very chipped granite ware, shallow and only 8 inches. Grandma Kissle used to say "Tis a poor crust that doesn't grease it's own tin." true on many levels. It's one of only 2 things I have of her's,....because when she could no longer keep house, her furnishings were considered just "stuff" ( but for the Havaland which her daughter in law snatched!)..The other is a peach pit, filed into a basket....which she gave to me, telling me how her father made it for her.
All "things" are not Sterling and gold, but are precious because they cause us to remember that we are products of our ancestors.
Annie, if you had a pair of beaded moccasins which belonged to you great grandmother, they would be worth likely a lot more than a service for 8 of sterling.....would you keep them even though they didn't fit your foot?

    Bookmark   October 14, 2012 at 6:57PM
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LindaC, my Dad and I spent several months "building" a 1932 Allis Chalmers tractor. He brought it home from an auction in boxes. When Dad died, my stepmother was deep in debt and on the edge of losing the farm. We had an auction and the money received went to pay the back bills. The only time I cried was when I sold that tractor and Dad's cows. However, the choice was clear, I had to come up with every penny I could or a 76 year old widow would be homeless. Somehow I don't feel less civilized because I sold material possessions instead of letting the bank boot an elderly widow out of her house. I have Grandma's old enameled canner, we spent a lot of summers canning thousands of jars with that, perhaps tens of thousands. It's worth nothing to anyone else but it is to me.

However, I don't think that keeping Grandma's canner makes me any more civilized, only more sentimental. I have nothing of Great-Grandmother's, but somehow I remember her anyway. I was scared to death of her and she used to give me Canadian quarters to sit by her. I didn't keep the quarters but I still remember. A family member once remarked that she was a "little, crabby woman". She was indeed...

And so we're back to "if it's important to you, keep it". If it isn't, then get rid of it. I don't think anyone is more or less civilized than anyone else because we have/don't have or want/don't want different things. I cannot project my own emotions or sentiments or beliefs on anyone else and then criticize them because they think differently. Grandma wisely told me "different isn't wrong, it's just different".

My own girls have different priorities too. Ashley would want the jewelry. Amanda would want the tractor. Neither would want the silver or china, but they'd fight over the horse.

Neither is right, neither is wrong. Stuff is still just stuff, no matter the material worth or the sentimental value. The possession of it makes no one better or worse than anyone else although some of the actions people take to have or possess "stuff" can make them morally inferior.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2012 at 12:59AM
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Annie hasn't said one single judgmental thing. She never said 'sell all your silver and donate the money to charity or you're a bad person.' She never said 'you're shallow and materialistic if you hang onto heirlooms.' She just said that different people like different things, and it's silly to try to convince people to keep stuff they don't care about to prevent becoming a chimp. I think she's right. Sushipup even talked about not being able to sell her house because of her mom's furniture. That blows my mind. I am sure it wasn't anything intentional, but I wouldn't want to be trapping my kids from beyond the grave because they feel too guilty getting rid of my possessions. The way I see it, I have no desire to own an object that makes me feel more bad than good, and I don't expect my kids to either. People are more important than stuff.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 5:48PM
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