My Weekly Score: Wallace Silverplate Compote

Wallace is a really great name in silverplate, so if the price is right, I’d suggest always picking up a piece if you see one!

The above is a silverplate compote from Wallace. Traditionally used to serve compote the dessert, it can also be used as a centerpiece of just another bowl to put fruit or even salad in.

This is indeed silverplate, with no dents or dings. It definitely needed a good polish, but I always leave that up to the buyer, as some people like the tarnished look.

But it had a sticker! And stickers always good.

We bought this in a lot with other pieces of silver. We probably only ended up paying a couple of dollars for each piece – max – and sold it for $41.99. Whooo!

Do you like Wallace silver, or do you prefer another brand name?

Word of the Week: Tarnish

So, I’m kind of cheating with this week’s WotW. I mean, I think most of us know what tarnish is. For those of you that don’t, or are unaware of its technical definition, tarnish is simply a thin layer of corrosion that forms over certain types of metal (silver and copper being amongst the top two), when that metal comes in contact with certain elements.

The interesting part is that tarnish is actually kind of complicated. It’s actually a chemical reaction between the metal and the air (in some cases, but not all). Other metal need certain chemicals to jump start this process for them. Tarnish is also not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a surface phenomenon, unlike rust, and doesn’t harm the metal. In fact, it actually seals in the layers underneath and protects them from further tarnish!

There are different kinds of tarnish too, the most well known being called patina. This is the reaction that you usually see on copper or brass. (And if you want an in-your-face example of it, just look at the Statue of Liberty!)

As I stated above, most tarnish is harmless. It’s also easy to remove. You can use steel wool, sand paper, baking soda, metal polish, or a variety of other things. I’ve heard that using ketchup is a great way to get rid of patina.

The best part about all of this is that tarnish can be beautiful. In some cases, it causes a rainbow affect to your pieces. Some people will collect silverplate and keep the tarnish intact because it’s just that gorgeous!

Check out some examples that I pulled down from our shelves, just for you!

First Up:

This is the most beautiful spoon I’ve ever seen. it is COMPLETELY covered in tarnish from head to toe. It’s got orange, red, pink, purple, and a stunning teal color running through it. I’ve never seen something so completely covered before!

Next:

Here’s a huge teapot that’s tarnished on just one side. This one in particular is very purple and blue. You can see how the tarnish doesn’t cover every inch of the pot, which makes the spoon above even more amazing.

Lastly:

Here’s a gorgeous sugar bowl that actually comes from the same set as the teapot above.

Doesn’t that make you never want to never polish your silver sets again!? It’s important to note that I didn’t do ANYTHING to change the coloring on these pictures. I didn’t even whiten the background because I wanted them to be as true to the real thing as possible. These are 100% absolutely what they look like when you hold them in your hand.

So the real question here is, “To polish or not to polish?” I know my answer…what’s yours?

How to Sell: Flatware

Much like dinnerware, flatware is a great thing to sell on eBay. It can be a little trickier and a little more time consuming, but you can still make a huge profit selling it. Here are our tips:

A. Buy in bulk. I know I hit you guys over the head with this one a lot, but this is one of the single most important rules to buying inventory for eBay. Don’t forget it! Yard sales are a great way to get your hand on a bunch of silverware. People will sell off lots of mismatched pieces thinking that there’s no way they’ll be able to get a good price for it individually. Think again, because that’s exactly what you’re going to do. (More about that below.)

B. Know your manufacturers. There are a lot of manufacturers out there and there are some duds. Two of the biggest names are Rogers and Oneida. Many companies have joined forces over the years and some bigger names have incorporated them into their own circle, so the history can get a little confusing. Just become familiar with the popular names and stick with them.

C. Realize what sells and what doesn’t. There’s a hierarchy in the land of flatware. Sterling silver is the King, silver plate is the prince, and stainless steel is the lowly jester (just kidding…kind of). Sterling silver is always your best bet – it’s good quality and sells well. Silver plate is the next best thing and also does pretty well. Stainless steel is good if you have a complete set or a well sought after pattern. Otherwise, we usually just list it in bulk. (You can learn about that here.)

D. Research, research, research. This is like the “location, location, location” mantra for eBay sellers. Research is always going to be your best friend, but make sure you don’t get caught up in it for too long. There will come a point when you just have to stop and list the item already. With flatware, the manufacturer name will more than likely be on the backside of each utensil. Unfortunately, they often didn’t foresee the need to stamp the pattern name on there as well. (Come on! Didn’t they know eBay was going to be huge a hundred years in the future???) The pattern is going to sell your flatware for you, so be sure you find out what it is. The best online resource for this is Replacements. There are a ton of books out there too, so take a gander and pick a couple to keep close by.

E. Take some time to look at what you have. It’s nice to stock up on a bunch of flatware, but then it can get a little overwhelming. We recently had to go through, oh, TWELVE BOXES of it. The entire living room floor was covered for a couple of days. (And the cats loved laying on it. Go figure.) But this was an excellent opportunity to match up patterns and put together mini-sets. We took the time to take stock of what we had, and it really paid off. In the end, we were able to pair pieces from different boxes and put them out on auction together. Also make sure you look at your regular pieces (ie. forks, knives, and spoons) compared to your specialty pieces (ie. pie servers, ladles, seafood forks, etc.). Specialty pieces should be sold individually, since they are much more covetable.

F.  Know how the buyer thinks. Just like with the dinnerware, you need to think like the buyer. (Actually, this applies to ANY item you want to sell on eBay.) A lot of people are looking to finish a set or replace broken or damaged pieces, and they only want to buy a few at a time. Some want a set that is already complete. It’s up to you to figure out what you have and how you want to sell it to your customers. We usually try to split them up into lots of two or four and try our hand at selling them like that at first. If it doesn’t work out, we’ll sell a set as a single lot and hope it goes that way.

G. To clean or not to clean? Some silverware, depending on what it is made out of, will tarnish. It can be labor intensive to clean an entire set (let alone if you have multiple sets) so you need to decide if this is something you want to invest your time in. We usually try to clean a pair of whatever it is we’re selling, then leave the rest tarnished (stating clearly in the listing that this is what we’re doing). This way, the buyer can see what their pieces can look like and we don’t have to actually polish all of them. The downfall to this is that tarnish can sometimes hide pits in the metal that buyers won’t be too happy about.

H. Now you can take pictures! (It’s smooth sailing from this point on, I promise.) Be sure to take a picture of the piece(s) over all, plus a close up of the pattern on the end of the handle. If you’re planning to put up several listings for pieces in the same pattern, you only have to take this picture once – then you can use it for all of your other listings! Also be sure to snap a picture of the manufacturer’s mark on the back. This is another picture you can use over and over again.

I. Auction or BIN? We tend to list our flatware in a fixed price format because we’ve found that it doesn’t fly off the shelves like some of our other items. But, I’ve also heard of some sellers making a killing listing these on auction. Test it out for yourself and see what works best for you. You’ll probably save money listing it as a BIN, but you may not sell your items as quickly (auctions have a better reach).

J. Shipping.  Shipping is easy-peasy for flatware – find a tiny box or use a flat rate envelope. Make sure there’s some padding so the piece won’t be bent or dented, and then ship it out! You can do most of this at very little cost if you ship them out with First Class mail.

There you have it – the basics of selling flatware on eBay. Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll be sure to try to answer them for you. Comments are always appreciated!

My Weekly Score: Rogers Tea Serving Set

This is the beginning of what we hope to be a regular series on this blog – My Weekly Score. In each post, we will outline one particular item that we’ve picked up and successfully sold. Any relevant information will be included, in hopes that you can learn what we’ve learned and keep an eye out for similar items!

Last week we picked up the beautiful silverplate tea set you see above for $5. FIVE DOLLARS. What a deal. It turned out that this set was made by Wm Rogers – a great name that usually sells very well. It was a complete set with the coffee pot, tea pot, sugar bowl and lid, creamer, and tray included. All pieces were vintage and silverplate. It also had “800” stamped on the base.

We listed this for $49.99, and after 6 bids it ended at $121.99. We included shipping, so the end price for us was about $105. That’s 21x times what we paid for it!

The best part about this sale is twofold. First, this set was actually damaged/broken. The handle was snapped off of the sugar bowl and there was a small dent on one of the other pieces. Seconly, we had set this with a Buy It Now price, since it was free with the listing sale that eBay was putting on. The BIN price we set? $100!

This just goes to show you that you never know how an item will do on auction. We could’ve set this out on fixed price for $50 and gotten 10x our money for it, but we would’ve missed out on a lot more. Also, don’t be afraid to list broken or damaged items. Sometimes the buyer just doesn’t care. And just because you might not know how to fix something, doesn’t mean someone else won’t!

Happy hunting!