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

Botaniker (The Botanists) (post-1900) by Gabriel Cornelius Ritter von Max

When Crowds Curate, Exhibitions Are By the People

  • August 26, 2014

Curating a museum exhibition can now be as easy and interactive as thousands of people clicking ...

Read More

Tortoises with iPads in the installation “Moving Ghost Town” by Cai Guo-Qiang at the Aspen Art Museum.

Aspen Art Museum Removes Turtles from Controversial Exhibition

  • August 26, 2014

Cold weather has forced the Aspen Art Museum to remove African sulcata tortoises from a ...

Read More

Ron Perelman

Billionaire's Legal Dispute with Art Dealer Pulls in Mugrabi Family

  • August 26, 2014

Depositions are said to be scheduled for September in a legal dispute between billionaire financier Ronald O. Perelman and contemporary art dealer Larry Gagosian.

Read More

"Lee Boroson: Plastic Fantastic" opens Oct.  11, 2014, at Mass MoCA.  “Canopy”, 2010, Dimensions variable, (12 feet height), Silicone coated nylon fabric, blowers, wood.

Mass MoCA Gets $25.4 Million from State for Expansion

  • August 26, 2014

Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) received $25.4 million in state funding through a capital facilities bond bill passed by Governor Deval Patrick...

Read More

Related Press Releases

Related Events from ArtfixDaily Calendar

ArtfixDaily Artwire