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Vintage Cutlery and Silverware Worth Buying

While they are sometimes used independently, the terms cutlery, silverware and flatware are essentially synonymous. These are tools used to prepare, serve and eat food, and are beautiful, timeless and for many, hold sentimental value. At local estate sales, vintage cutlery and silverware are a sure thing, but how do you know if what you see is worth buying?

A Full Set

A full set, which is a set of 10 or 12 place settings, is what you are looking for. If not, research the cost of replacements to make sure you’re making a good purchase.

The Types of Pieces

For everyday use, forks knives and spoons are going to see daily use, but you will also occasionally use serving pieces like ladles, spatulas, serving spoons. If the set you’re eyeing includes these, great, but if not, don’t be disappointed. Design magazines, and specialty restaurants often mix and match vintage silverware. It is a fun way to play with textures and design elements.


Really look at the set to make sure it’s in good condition. You want sharp knives, forks without bent or broken tines, and if it’s silver, minimal tarnish. Silver tarnish is a chemical reaction creates black marks on silver. It is easily removed with a commercial silver polish.

Sterling Silver vs Silver Plate

Silver, a precious metal, is soft and easy to shape and form. Because it is so soft, to create sterling silver, you must add either nickel or copper to the silver to make it strong enough.

Sterling silver much heavier than silver plate and is clearly marked “Sterling” on the back of the handle. We like using this website to help us identify and verify the authenticity of any sterling silver we come across.

Silver plate was developed in the 1840s and is made of a base metal that is covered with a thin layer of silver. It will feel lighter than sterling silver and is much less expensive to make.

Do you Love it?

Last, but certainly not least, ask yourself, “Do I really love this?” The pieces you purchase will become a part of your daily living, so sure it’s something you really like – it will make it more enjoyable in the long run.

Collecting silver for the sake of collecting is expensive, and a return might not as lucrative as one might think. Silver isn’t incredibly valuable, so do keep in mind that you should buy pieces that are in good condition, and that will be used and loved on a regular basis.

So, whether you’re looking to get started or add to your collection, please come by one of our next estate sales. You never know what you could find.


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