Record gold, silver prices spark antiques meltdown

  • Antique silver pieces are being melted down as prices rise for precious metal.

    Antique silver pieces are being melted down as prices rise for precious metal.

    Photo: Artfixdaily

A buffet of 18th- and 19th-century silver and gold boxes, candlesticks, flatware and salvers are increasingly heading to the furnace as prices for precious metals have soared in 2011.

Collectors and attic raiders are sending their antique pieces to scrap metal dealers instead of the antiques market in order to make a quick sale. Auction houses are now monitoring scrap prices to ensure they don't sell pieces below melt value. Speculators are swooping in for big pieces.

The price of silver has doubled in the past year, with a record high of $49.79 an ounce on April 25. Gold has been gaining, with some experts saying $1,730 an ounce is approaching. Others warn of a bubble.

Uncertainty in financial systems and industrial demand are two reasons for the metals market surge. About 40 to 45 percent of scrap is bought by the solar and electronics industries.

Lewis Smith, managing director of the London-based dealers Koopman Rare Art, told Bloomberg. “As the price goes up, there are going to be more mistakes” with fine examples of Georgian and Victorian silver increasingly in danger of being melted down.

“So much is being melted that even the pedestrian pieces will become rare,” notes Neil Franklin, partner in the London-based antique silver dealers N. & I. Franklin.

More News Feed Headlines

William Merritt Chase (American, 1849-1916), Sunlight and Shadow, 1884, oil on canvas, Collection of Joslyn Art Museum, Gift of the Friends of Art, 1932.4

Before Twitter, There Was 'The Tiff,' a Cutting-Edge Painting that Captured a Moment

  • February 22, 2018 18:00

A brief exchange, perhaps heated, executed quickly to capture a moment. Sounds like a Twitter ...

Read More

Field Museum

Supreme Court Rules Against Terrorism Victims Who Sought Items From Chicago Museums

  • February 21, 2018 20:20

The Supreme Court denied a transfer of Persian artifacts from Chicago museums to U.S. survivors ...

Read More

Aerial view of Huguette Clark's Bellosguardo estate

Mystery Lingers Over Fate of Huguette Clark's Bellosguardo

  • February 20, 2018 20:24

Huguette Clark, the copper heiress who died at age 104 in 2011, left a will that envisioned her ...

Read More

A terra-cotta horse and warrior from the Franklin Institute’s exhibit.

Man Charged With Stealing Terracotta Warrior's Thumb

  • February 19, 2018 22:28

A Delaware man has been charged with stealing the thumb of a $4.5 million terracotta warrior ...

Read More

Related Press Releases

Related Events from ArtfixDaily Calendar

 
Capital Collections Estate Auction - Weschler's

ArtfixDaily Artwire