Selling China, Crystal, and Silver

Parent Q&A

  • I'm divorcing, need to downsize and am looking to sell my wedding china. It is not practical to use as everyday dishware but it is beautiful and in great condition. It is discontinued and individual pieces are selling for a lot on eBay, but it seems prohibitively expensive and time-consuming for me to try to sell and then ship on eBay. Has anyone had experience using Replacements.com? Are there consignment shops or similar stores in the area that purchase or consign china? Thanks!

    [Moderator Note: just updated the archived with past advice: https://www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org/recommend/selling-china-crystal-and-silver]

    I don't have experience selling with replacements.com, but bought a couple of bowls from them for my wedding set. It was a good experience. The bowls were said to be slightly damaged, but they arrived in perfect condition, so that was a pleasant surprise. It was a seamless transaction. Also, I liked that the owner sent an email to his customers when there was talk of boycotting North Carolina businesses due to NC's backward stance on genderizing bathrooms. It was a very personal email asking for his customers to please not boycott replacements.com, as he, the owner, was gay himself and was of course opposed to NC's plan. Anyway, it humanized on online transaction for me, and I appreciated that.

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Questions

Where can I sell crystal, china and silverware?

Sept 2015

My parents and in-laws have given me all of their crystal, china, and silverware but I really don't have the space for all of it. Some of the pieces are quite valuable and I have complete sets (e.g., 8-person china, 12-person silverware set). I have tried listing items on eBay and Craig's list but haven't been able to sell my stuff. Does anyone know where I might be able to sell or donate items? Thanks! Sung


I'm sure you'll get a number of replies on where to sell your china and silverware, and a TON of suggestions on where to donate! If I can throw my hat in the ring -- since you asked: I'm a volunteer and Board Member with the Humane Society of the North Bay, a private, nonprofit, no-kill animal shelter in Vallejo. We've been helping place homeless animals in adoptive homes all over the Bay area for almost 30 years, but we rely on donations from the community, and we are always struggling, as you can imagine. Every dollar we receive is critical to our operations. Your post was of interest because we have a thrift store that's a big support for us. We often have high-end things to sell, such as china and glassware. We have customers from Sonoma, Napa, the East Bay and SF. I realize our humane society isn't local, and there are many worthy charities in the EB, but your donation would be a wonderful help to our small shelter. I have no shyness when it comes to asking on behalf of the animals! Best wishes to you whatever you decide. Feel free to contact me: Kristin, email keddy For the animals


You may want to try replacements.com. I bought my discontinued crystal through them. Lbyb


Clars Auction House in Oakland. Anon


What to do with Grandma's china

July 2015

We're moving into a new house and I'd like to not move all of our unused stuff with us. I have multiple boxes filled with my grandmother's china and glassware. It's beautiful but not really my style and very delicate. When I've lived places where's there's room to put it away, I use it maybe once every couple of years. I really enjoy using it and feel close to my grandma when I do. But when it's in boxes, it doesn't get used at all.

I'm not sure if there will be room to put it away in the new house. My original plan was to buy a buffet or hutch for the dining room and keep it there. But I'm not sure that there will be room in the dining room for anything other than a table and chairs. So now I'm trying to figure out what to do. Here's what I see as my options:

1. Put a china cabinet or hutch in the living room. There is plenty of room in there but will it look strange to have dishes in the living room? If we do go this route, do you have any advice about what piece of furniture would best hold it all? There are lots and lots of different sized plates, bowls, serving bowls, champagne flutes, parfait glasses, water glasses, wine glasses, etc. Just typing this makes me realize that there's probably no way that it will all fit into one piece of furniture.

2. Keep it in boxes in the garage. This seems like a waste since we're not planning on moving again until retirement. But we could get it out for special occasions.

3. Sell it. But I have no idea how to do that or how much it's worth. It's a very large collection that probably serves 12 except that there are only 3 tea cups. I assume that there's not much of a market for large sets of china like this but I really don't know.

Can any of you who have wrestled with this problem give me some advice? If you bought furniture to hold your collection, what pieces did you buy? Is it okay to house dishes in a living room? While I know that I can do whatever I want, for the first time in my life I'll have a grown up house with grown up furniture and don't want to ruin the aesthetic in order to store dishes.

If you sold the china, how did you go about that? Is there someone who would sell it for me and take a commission? Does it have any value? This is a pretty set of china but it's not anything famous. Did you regret selling it? I'm kind of a sentimental person and I do enjoy thinking about my grandma when I use the dishes. I kind of feel like a heel for even considering selling it.

Thanks for your advice! Sentimental hoarder


Yes, I would put the china in the living room. I have the same issue - not much space but have sentimental nice dishes I want to keep. I like them in the living room better anyway, I can see them. Grandma's china owner


I have my grandma's china. It's almost 100 years old, beautiful, very delicate, and no longer made. My grandma died a little over 6 years ago and I had put it all away until I could figure out what to do with it. I recently got it out of storage and displayed it in her old china cabinet (along with some crystal) in our dining/living room. My original plan was to have a fancy dinner once a month and use the china but now I'm afraid! My doofus husband broke a dish when washing it (even though I asked him not to do it and I almost killed him). My husband and I never got china when we married so this is it. I want to use it but I guess I have to be ok with the risk of breakage and it doesn't seem like I'm there yet. I plan on keeping it and giving it to my kids when/if they get married.

You can buy and sell china online at replacements.com and it might be worthwhile for you to see how much is available or how much it's going for. Good luck! Laurel C


The Container Store sells china storage boxes which are cardboard covered in cloth and they come with dividers for all the kinds of china. They make it much easier to get the china out to use for special occasions. Also, I think keeping it in the living room is a great idea. I would wait till you get moved in to think about what would look good in the space you have. best wishes


I would keep a few pieces and sell or donate the rest.

Here's the issue. Your connection to the china is sentimental and occasionally practical (when you need a gravy boat at Thanksgiving??) whereas the original intention of china was to be largely practical - a financial investment that brides could pass on to future generations, OR to sell piece-by-piece if times got tough for a young couple. But the value of china has changed dramatically in modern times. First of all, aesthetic preferences change much more quickly than in past generations, so the odds that we will still like our mother's or grandmother's pattern are low. Second, lifestyles are more casual than in years past, so most of the time it feels silly to use ''formal'' china even with guests.

This is my reason for suggesting that you hold on to a few pieces that remind you of your grandmother and that you might actually have occasion to use (the gravy boat, the serving platters) and get rid of the rest. It's probably true that you won't be able to sell an incomplete set for as much as a complete set (although I really don't know), but according to your post your goals here are (1) to reclaim space (2) without dishonoring your late grandmother. Financial goals, it sounds like, are less important given that you were willing to buy a new piece of furniture to accommodate the china. So I would suggest allowing yourself to take a financial hit in order to unburden yourself of this inheritance that is no longer benefiting your family. sentimental, but practical too


The best recommendation I have for you is to use your china! All the time! I mean, everyday. I used to be like you. I have lots of lovely things that I stored because they were ''too nice'' to bring out except for special occasions. Well, the occasions I was hosting that were special enough to bring out the good stuff dwindled to about once every two years, and it got so that I forgot about many of the pieces I had.

What are you waiting for? If you really need the money, sell your china. But it doesn't make any sense to keep it in this limbo. If a piece breaks, oh well. Or if it's too nice for the kids, keep serving them from the Pottery Barn plates. I'd rather enjoy the amusement of eating PB & J off Limoges-- and fondly remembering *my* grandmother when I do -- than store it unloved, and unlived-in. Life is way, way too short to stand on ceremony.

My grandmother would laugh


Dear Sentimental -- Think about keeping them. Put them in boxes in the garage. It's fine. If there are certain sized plates or glasses you are most likely to use, put those together in a box for easy access.

I've had my mom's china and crystal boxed away for 30 years, through many moves they have sat untouched in boxes. Last year I pulled them out and started using them for special dinners. I love using it, makes me feel connected to my mom. I don't use all of it, just the salad plates and dinner plates....and the water glasses. It mixes just fine w/ my more casual stuff and it makes me happy to see it.

If you really do want to sell them, try Harvey Clars Auction on Telegraph. They'll give you an estimate of value.

Good luck! -also sentimental


Maybe you would like to set the table with the china one last time, take pictures, and then sell it at Clar's Auction House in Oakland.

I think saving a little bit of it would be nice. Maybe one set of glasses. Or the three tea cups. Or one serving bowl or platter. Just a little bit that I could display or use to remind me of my grandmother. Anon


Where/how to sell my wedding china

June 2015

I have 12 5-piece sets of beautiful Waterford Harcourt China. 7 sets are in original boxes and packaging. 5 sets have been used twice and stored in padded china storage containers. All are in perfect condition. I registered for this China for my wedding, so it has sentimental value to me. But, sadly we don't have the space to store it now that we have three kids. Does anyone know of a good place to sell or consign in the East Bay Area? Katie W.


I sold quite a lot of collectable china at Clars Auction Gallery. We inherited lovely but unuseable, to the point of only being good for display.. They got us a lot of $ for it. Then, I got hooked on going there and switched up a lot of our stuff. I bought less fabulous, but really pretty dish sets for the holidays there. Also, really interesting and comfortable used furnishings. They take in and sell a huge cross section of stuff once a month. They have free appraisal clinics on Thursdays. Love the hunt!


Sell your china at Clar's. https://clars.com/ They have a minimum, so you may have to offer them more stuff to sell in order to get them to sell your china for you. Anon


Should I sell my grandmother's silver?

Jan 2013

I am in the midst of moving from a large house to a very small apartment - needless to say, many things must be let go. My question to this wise community - should I sell my grandmother's silver? I never use it, it just sits in a cabinet. I have one child, 5, and no neices or nephews yet (only one brother who may or may not have kids). Assuming no immediate family member wants this, and I decide to not set it aside for my son, should I sell it to someone who will hopefully use it? Has anyone parted with a family heirloom for cash and then deeply regrets that choice? And if I DO sell - where, how? I do not even know how to go about determining the value of what I have. trying to be less sentimental and more practical


I would look at Harvey Clar's (they are an auction house on Telegraph Ave). They have days when you can take items in for valuation. You can either sell through them or figure out how else to sell...but at least it is one way to get a valuation. Just an idea


I think that you should go to several antique shops, Clars auction gallery free estimate day is Thursday 9 to 12:00, Bonhams, etc.. Sadly, you will probably find that it is not as valuable as it was in Grannie's day. (very few family silver services are actually super valuable) Grieve


Start using it! Use the china! Cut kids stuff up so they won't chip it and have a nicer lifestyle. That is my advice...


If you like it you might want to use it daily, and get rid of your other flatware. The set won't be pristine, but you'll have the connection of using your grandmother's silver. anon


Here's my take: You shouldn't feel bad about getting rid of family heirlooms if you don't use them and don't have room for them. It would be nice to keep this to pass on to your daughter, but if you have other items from your grandmother that are more sentimental (or more beautiful or useful or easier to store), then you don't need to keep everything.

But you should consider if someone else in the family would want it. If one of my siblings or cousins sold off my grandparent's silver without offering it to me first, I would be upset. It's something that would have real value to me, I would use it, and it's something that I would want to stay in the family. There would be other items that I wouldn't care at all about, but it's hard to predict what's important to different people.

If possible, I think it's best to just give the item to other family members, rather than selling it to them. After all, it was something given to you in the first place. But that's very dependant on the facts - how items initially got distributed, the economic situation of everyone involved, the value of the item, the closeness of relationships in the family, (and your trust that whoever you give it to isn't going to just sell it!).

If you do sell it, I would look online to try to get an idea of its value and check in with some local auction houses. Good luck, I've always wanted a family silver set


While I have not sold a family heirloom, I do have a few things I've held onto. Maybe too many things, including my great aunt's dishes, silver and some furniture. Like you, I don't use the silver but I can't bring myself to part with it, if only for its historical value. If this is the only heirloom you've got, I suggest keeping it and storing it in the back of a closet or under a bed. As far as value, the pattern of the silver may not be in vogue currently which means you may not get much more than the value of the melted silver. ASP


Contact Hudson's Estate Liquidation at 510-219-9644. Rick and Bear will be able to help you with all of your needs. Their prices are fair, and they are quite efficient. anon


What should I do with silver I inherited?

April 2011

I recently inherited some silverware and would like some ideas on what to do with it. I'm not sure how old it is - 50 years? it is made of silver, I think. It is far from a complete set - for example, several spoons, hardly any forks. We don't really need more flatware - we have a set of stainless steel that I like very much. I'm not particularly sentimental about this silver and I try to avoid collecting stuff I won't use, yet I don't want to just throw it away. Any suggestions would be appreciated. heir to silver


First of all find out if it is silver. If it is a pattern that used to be popular at some point there are probably people out there who still collect it, or who have an incomplete inherited set they'd like to supplement and are looking to buy extra pieces. I am not sure where you should turn, perhaps go to an antique store or take a photo and send to someone who runs a website selling silver (a google search found several). If it is good quality silver there should be, somewhere on the handles, writing engraved in small letters that states the quality of the silver (e.g. 925) and perhaps even a brand/company name or the ''logo'' of the company. Depending on quality it can be worth anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars per piece. Anon


Since the price of silver is at an all time ''real'' high these days, you might want to consider selling this stuff, particularly if you have no sentimental attachment and it is not ''artifactually'' rare or unique. sd


I suggest that you sell your silver silverware to replacements.com. I think they are in North Carolina. That way, someone who has other pieces of the same style and loves them will perhaps be able to buy pieces they are missing. I have bought things from Replacements, Ltd. over the years. Judy K


Hi, Niels at Montclair Antiques sells random silver sets on consignment. He's also a real doll. Check him out. Reen


Where to get antique silver flatware appraised

Aug 2009

I inherited some sterling(?)silver flatware (some monogrammed, some not) and a beautiful silver dish all made in Russian or Poland in the 1800's. I'd like to have them appraised, but don't know where or even if it's worth it. Is period sterling silver worth anything and any suggestions about where to have an appraisal would be greatly appreciated. I'm in Berkeley


Clars Auction Gallery (on Telegraph X the freeway overpass) has a free appraisal clinic on Thursdays from 9:00 to 12:00 every week. You just show up and sign in stating what you have (1800s silverware) and an appraiser with that expertice will see you right then & there. They will tell you what they can sell it for.

Many dealers as well as private bargain hunters shop their auctions. They pay the auction price plus 20% and tax. Once you know the auction estimate, you may want to try selling it privately...or not, because Clars makes it pretty easy. Hope you get a lot for it!


Well, that's kind of the point of an appraisal, isn't it? To find out if it's worth something. Silver can have all sorts of value, most of it due to when and where it was made, the pedigree of the maker, not the value of the metal itself. When my grandmother died, we found some pieces that were worth a king's ransom (my aunt got those), others that we don't mind putting in the dishwasher, and many in between.

Silver plate won't get you much, although even that is worth something if by the right maker. Sterling is worth more, but again, it's really due to the maker, not the fact that it's sterling.

You might consider taking a piece or two to one of the antique shops over by the Ashby BART station, and simply asking if it's worth it to appraise what you have.

You might also consider what the appraisal will get you. A good appraiser will ask you why you want it. If you have it done for insurance replacement value, the value will tend to be high. If you have it appraised for estate purposes, it will tend to be low because tax basis is set on that value. If you want it appraised just to see what it's worth, well, watch out. Would you like it if it were not valuable? Would you be afraid to use it if it were very valuable?

You might try to look at it in a way other than as monetary value. I have some piece of my grandmother's that I love because I loved her. One of my favorite pieces is a spoon I saw her drop and grind in the garbage disposer, because I can so vividly remember that evening with her. Because it's been damaged, it has no value whatsoever. But to me, it's priceless. lucky


Selling Fine China and Sterling

Aug 2009

Can anyone recommend a person or business who buys fine china and sterling silver place settings. These pieces are in excellent condition--either new or been used only once--but are no longer in original packing. Thank you! anon


There is a place on Fillmore Street in SF, I dont have the name but it is in the main shopping district -- say, between California and Jackson --within a couple blocks of the movie theatre, downhill from there and on the other -East- side of Fillmore. The guy has been there forever and his shop window is filled with China and expensive nic nacs. I sold My grandmother's set of fine bone china there, it was valuable stuff but not of my taste, he gave me a fair price, maybe I would have gotten more on eBay but oh the hassle factor, he just bought the whole set and I was done with it. andrea


I sold a few pieces last fall through replacements.com. I thought the price they offered was fair. They paid promptly and were professional to deal with. The downside was that I had to pay for shipping (and insurance) to send the items back east, which took a chunk out of what I received. I have also sold on Ebay. On Ebay, it's nice that the buyer pays shipping, but you never know what your item will sell for, which is why it can be wise to set a reserve price. Anonymous


Who buys old silver and crystal?

Nov 2008

Are there any dealers that buy antique silver, crystal and china? I inherited this when I married in the early 90s, and it is still packed in the boxes. I know I will never use it. Unfortunately, I don't really have the time to list and manage this collection on Craigslist or Ebay, and would really prefer to sell all or part to a dealer that would pay a fair value. Any suggestions? want some space back in my garage


If you don't find anything local, Replacements Ltd. (www.replacements.com) in North Carolina is a GREAT resource for assorted silver, china, etc. The FAQs on their website provide information on selling items.


Hi there garage-space seeker, Your post makes me a little nervous for you, in that it sounds like you don't have any idea what your stuff is worth. I'm no expert in the silver/china/crystal dept, but I am a longtime antiquer and eBayer. I would suggest that you get someone (a friend who likes antiques?) to do some research for you before you part with this stuff - try to get a handle on the fair mkt value first. Then you can go fwd with local antique dealers, or get someone you know to put it on eBay or Craig's List for you.

One thing you could do for starters: call Bonhams & Butterfields in SF and see when their next clinic is, so that you could get the stuff appraised (I think for free). Also, go on eBay, try to look at stuff that is similar to your stuff, and then note the names of the dealers selling it. Then you can try to email them directly, explain your situation, and ask if they mind if you email them a photo of some of your pieces in order to get their input on value. (I did this myself with a midcentury modern piece of furniture I was trying to value.) Good luck. If you want to chat, feel free to email me. Mari


I recently sold silver and crystal to Park Street Antiques and Collectibles, 1519 Park St., Alameda 94501. 2 of the owners, David George and Jesse Vargas, were able to come out to the house as there were so many items. 510-523-0895. I have also taken silver to the Cash for Silver and Gold place at the bottom of Solano Ave., west of the cinema, but they are buying it for the value of the sterling itself, not for any decorative value. klev


Want to sell antique Limoges china

Jan 2004

We have a set of very old French Limoges bone china from my mother-in-law that we would like to sell (my husband hates it). We plan to sell it ourselves, but first we need to get an idea of what it is worth. We will check on EBay and Craig's list, but does anyone know a local place that would do an accurate but inexpensive appraisal? Ela


Regarding your Limoges china - I recently have been dealing with a similar situation with Wedgwood china (Florentine pattern) inherited from my mother and split among 4 siblings. My sister and I have been buying more of it on ebay to fill out our portions, so we did some research first to get price estimates. Here are my recommendations:

1 - don't bother with craig's list - I like it but not for this kind of item.

2 - get a book on procelain marks, a good one is Dictionary of Marks ~ Pottery and Porcelain By Ralph and Terry Kovel you can find it in the research section at the main Berkeley Library, or on line at Amazon, or used on Ebay. I would recommend the library to start with. I ordered the wrong edition on-line (they have at least 2 versions, 1 for pre-850 or so, and 1 more recent), had to swap it out for the edition I needed. I wish I had gone to the library first!

3 - log on to replacements.com to see if you can identify your pattern. There are a lot of manufactures using the term Limoges (refers to an area in France), as I discovered when researching my set of Limoges ( from my Grandmother) made in France but for the American market. Prices on replacements.com are very high though, I would use their quotes for insurance purposes only.

4 - Once you've identified your Limoges pattern, track it on ebay to get some current market estimates.

I'm not familiar with bay Area appraisers for china, but I think you cannot go wrong with ebay when you have items such as Limoges or Wedgwood china. They are easily identified and priced, unlike more obscure items without identifying marks

good luck anon