Advertise With Us

Record gold, silver prices spark antiques meltdown

7 August 2011
  • 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
Digital art by Andy Warhol was recently discovered on floppy discs.
A trove of never-before-seen digital artworks by famed Pop artist Andy Warhol have been recovered from floppy discs on an Amiga 1000, a personal computer from the 1980s...
This Sunburst Snuff Jar, made circa 1815-1830 by the Keene Marlboro Street Glassworks in New Hampshire, sold for $57,330 in an online-only auction.
A new set of younger and first-time buyers could fuel the value of the online fine art market to $3.76 billion in the next five years from $1.57 billion in 2013, according to British insurer Hiscox.
Helly Nahmad
A scion of the billionaire art-dealing Nahmad family blamed his upbringing for a gambling addiction that got him busted as part of a $100 million high-stakes poker ring.
Norman Rockwell's 1957 painting, "The Rookie (Red Sox Locker Room)" will be on loan to the MFA, Boston, prior to going on sale at Christie's on May 22, 2014.  The low estimate is $20 million.
Before hitting the auction block next month, the beloved Norman Rockwell painting, The Rookie (The Red Sox Locker Room) (1957) will be on view for six days only at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston...