How do I Sell Old Master Silverware by Towle?

By Linda Richard
Elegant dining, sterling flatware
Modern kitchen and dining table image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com

Old Master is a classic sterling silver flatware pattern from Towle, and is one of the best-selling patterns of all time. Created in 1942, this pattern has hollowware pieces to match. Towle created Old Master Gold in 1992 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the pattern. Old Master Gold has gold accents on the ornate sterling design. The 1942 pattern has become a family heirloom. Collectors and families look for extra pieces to replace missing or damaged Old Master sterling flatware. With a popular pattern and good market, you can sell your Towle silverware in a number of places.

Take inventory of the pieces of Towle Old Master flatware and hollowware that you want to sell. Make a list of each piece, with size and condition. Size is important in flatware, as collectors are attempting to match existing pieces. If you have access to a gram scale, weigh one of each of the table setting pieces and list the weight in the inventory. Early sterling production was often heavier than later production.

Research the value of the pieces you have by checking for sold items online. Prices are not a good way to value Towle Old Master flatware, as many website offer this pattern with a large range of prices. The Towle website has new pieces and sets available, sometimes at discounted prices. If your items are not new, they may be more valuable as vintage sterling flatware or less valuable because they are used. Attempt to compare your flatware with like pieces that have sold, by comparing age, condition and weight to arrive at a value.

Contact an appraiser if this is out of your comfort zone. You have the preliminary work completed and may save yourself some money, as the inventory and research saves the appraiser hours of work. Choose an appraiser in your area who is a member of the International Society of Appraisers or who has completed the core curriculum in appraisal studies, and who has knowledge and experience in sterling flatware. The appraiser may have marketing ideas for the sale of your flatware, too. Do not sell to anyone who appraises your items or anyone affiliated with the appraiser. It is unethical for the appraiser to purchase your items, and you may not get the maximum value for your flatware.

Choose a market for your Old Master flatware. You may choose to sell it online at an auction site or website, or you may consign it to someone else to sell online. Another option may be to sell it locally to an antiques and collectibles store or to an individual who has space in a collectibles mall. You will not get maximum value for your flatware in this market, as this is selling at wholesale, not retail. Shows are also an acceptable market, but the value decreases so the vendors can make a profit. An auction house dealing in fine antiques and collectibles may accept your Old Master sterling on consignment--particularly if you have serving pieces. The auction house takes a percentage from the sale price, usually about 20 percent. Setting a reserve on the sale may protect you from a bad day at auction. This is your bottom price, and agreed to in writing with the consignment to the auction house.