Tuesday, June 28, 2011

You Paid Too Much For Your Shopping Mall Ladle: Silverplate Is Your Friend

I've got this stoneware handmade medium sized pottery pitcher that my mom made. She's a professional artist, not some lady with a group of other ladies in a basement of a community center pressing things from molds. It is a high quality piece of art work created by a skilled artisan. This pitcher is a rarity in my house....it doesn't have a chunk missing out of it anywhere on it. It could be resold if, say, I ran out of other things to sell. Not that I would  but say it was between it and my left kidney...how much was it worth to the average folk on Ebay? I know how much it really is worth. Every town in the country with disposable income and abundance of yoga classes has one or two or five art gallery and home decorating joints. She used to sell stuff in them.  Folks pay a lot for a fine piece of craft. So imagine my shock when I saw the going prices in the online auction world. You pay more for a piece of reproduced crap in a super sized department store. Same for a whole lot of other things.

Say you are strapped for cash. The credit card is maxed out. You cannot afford even a  $25 gift card at Target for an anniversary present. The birthday's of your adult dear ones gives you night sweats. Your pie server's handle busted off and you have one steak knife with the tip missing. You need something for under fifteen bucks and it just doesn't exist out there. Or your options are just plain old bad quality bunk (Melamine tableware for 16 bucks. Seriously?! I don't care if you do get 12 pieces. It's plastic.) What is a soul to do?

I was looking at flatware at a fairly decent department store where one would go to purchase dining ware. Reasonable but with quality stock. There was a high-end name 65 piece set on sale for 190 bucks. Really good price one would think. BUT its stainless steel. Are they out of their fucking minds?
 I like to think in terms of resale value.  You can't give that away.

It is worth, in the unloading it kind of way, about 65 bucks if you sold them today. Maybe. I don't care if Lady Gaga pressed the metal herself.  Silverplate, which is basically a crappier metal like, say stainless steel (! ) or, in older days, copper or such with a layer of silver over it. And, right now, you can't give that away on auction sites either.  If you are going to go drop money on an casual dining set of flatware and it is going to be cheap metal, don't be spending $190 dollars. Go to a cheaper store for the some poor quality metal with a lesser fancy name or get thee to Ebay and punch in the words "Wm. Rogers or International" under the "antiques silverplate" section and get yourself a pretty set for under a hundred bucks that you can hawk for at least maybe SOMEthing if you get desperate and have enough of it. Cake servers? Ladles? Meat forks? Poultry shears? You can get them for the same price, maybe less but far more gorgeous and they won't fall apart. Often mistaken for real silver without an experienced eye. Your welcome.

There are truly beautiful silverplate pieces out there that have very little value in this market. A lot of dealers don't like even bothering with them these days.  Same goes with china that normally would have sold for a ton two years ago. And non-gallery functional artisan pieces. And glassware.

Need a nice birthday or wedding present? Punch in "Limoges" in your auction's china site. You'd be surprised what you can get. Or go to the glass section and shop it. A vase? Maybe even that same water pitcher new. Or better yet, go to the studio pottery or art glass section and get something unique and far more valuable in the future. There are literally thousands of quality choices out there. Many cheaper than that gift card you can't afford.