There are lots of ways to find more sterling silver. You can visit more stores and sales, go more often, and be persistent. But most of the obvious ways to find more scrap silver also require investing more time and effort… this is ok to an extent, but that only works to a point and doesn’t always produce the desired results.
Instead, I like the idea of working smarter, not harder, and a little bit of knowledge and the curiosity to look where others don’t (or won’t) has paid off handsomely over the years. I also like to maximize each “prospecting trip”, and this tip will definitely help you find more scrap silver even in locations that are already “picked over”.
That being said, here’s one of my all-time favorite ways to find more scrap sterling silver when I’m out looking at thrift stores, estate sales, etc. While it’s really not a “secret”, it might as well be since what I’m about to share has added hundreds of dollars to my bottom line on more than one occasion and is a proven strategy for finding more scrap sterling silver in less time.
So what’s the secret?
Easy… look at knife handles. And not just carving knives or fancy knives (although you should check these too) but even stop and look at the old BUTTER KNIVES and plain flatware. You might be surprised to find that some of the older flatware pieces have sterling silver handles. In fact, a lot of them are even marked “Sterling Handle”, though the marking can be small, worn, and hard to see.
Don’t discount any pieces of older flatware because ya never know…
This “secret” works especially well if you’re like me and haunt the thrift stores, estate sales, and yard sales looking for cheap precious metals. Let’s be honest, there are tons of people who frequent these places on a daily basis, all pretty much looking for the same stuff (aka, items of value). So quite often these places are “picked over”, and good deals seem few and far between. I’m telling you the good deals are still there… but sometimes we gotta change WHERE we look and WHAT we’re looking at. If a store feels like it’s been hit hard by resellers, I automatically switch modes to look for the hidden treasures like sterling silver knife handles… and often times, I find them. I’ve even have good success looking at the local antique shops, where the antique dealers “should know better” (than to put real silver out for super cheap).
But they don’t… either they don’t know to check knife handles for silver content, don’t take a close enough look, or are too busy to care for “such a small amount of silver”. The same is true for the majority of resellers who vulturize the local shops and sales on a continued basis… most of them don’t know or don’t care to check TONS of items, including sterling silver knife handles.
All this means more underpriced scrap silver for you and me!
In a future article, we’ll discuss how to identify these hidden gems, the different markings used, marking locations, and most importantly… approximately how much silver content the knife handles have along with value.
Until then, happy hunting…!