I was photographing a Remembrance silver plate gumbo spoon by Rogers, and I remembered a conversation I walked past among some sellers at last year’s Raleigh (NC) Antiques Fair.
“I can’t stand silver plate,” he said, at his nodding compatriot. “If I have to take some in from an estate, that (expletive deleted) goes right in the trash.”
And he then went on to make equally disparaging remarks about International Prelude sterling silver, of dropping it right in the melt box because it was (I don’t remember his exact snooty word here) “so common.” We’ve already talked about how silver plate is sometimes called Grandma’s Sterling, and how that’s ok. Some folks have a strong emotional attachment to the flatware (silverware) that grandma or mother dutifully pulled out of the flannel every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas, for Purim and Passover. I suppose those folks should simply avoid the Silver Snob stores because – as I have been told in such a store before -
“Oh. We have nothing here for you.”
While on a picking adventure this past weekend, I found a small dealer in a rented booth space in an Antique Mall who had a good idea, of breaking up a big set of Grandma’s Sterling and selling it in place setting bundles. Folks might not need the entire set, but maybe an extra place or two, to finish out theirs so they don’t end up with one or two guests eating off the everyday stainless at the kid’s table. We rarely sell place settings like that because we find that folks are short a couple of dessert forks, or need extra place knives, or they collect teaspoons and don’t need the extra pieces. We try to accommodate where possible (and we can always negotiate a deal if you do need place settings and we have them in stock.)
As far as the Prelude being “too common” to sell: if they are speaking in terms of a commodity, I know of other patterns that are easier to find in the market, with more pieces available to purchase. My interpretation of what was said – based on the belittling tone of voice – was that it was “common” and not “elegant.” My southern great-grandmother would say “piss-elegant.” My aunt’s fanny. If an item is a difficult or slow sale, I understand any dealer’s option not to acquire it for their store. Sometimes they can get stuck acquiring an item because in order to get A, they also have to take B. Or when doing a contract to liquidate an estate, it requires all of the estate, ugly stuff, throw away stuff, broken stuff, caked in kitchen grease stuff and all. But it’s still good form (and much more professional) to dispose of the unwanted items discreetly: sell them to another dealer at wholesale, have another means of selling the goods outside of the Silver Snob Store, or even donate the items to a charity that can make good use of them either as literally using them, or selling them at a fundraiser. It simply makes them seem like “not somebody I’d ever want to do business with” to describe merchandise so badly in public. Suppose I was walking by and heard that, and it just happened that Prelude was my grandmother’s silver pattern? How offended would I be?
For what it’s worth, we sold an entire service for 8 in International Prelude a few year’s back. We found a nice rosewood case on the shelves, gave everything a light estate cleaning (no heavy polishing – just get the yellow off) and made an auction buyer very happy with the acquisition. My only thought about the silver pattern was that it looks very nice on the table, and being an antique set, it has that heritage of use around someone’s table that I find so interesting.
It makes me wonder how many happy meals were shared, how many jokes were told, and how many arguments with that one old John Birch uncle who always starts a fight at the Thanksgiving table. The silver snobs would never appreciate the wonder of that thought.