How To Scrap Silver Plate, and Recycling old Silver Plated Items

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The price of silver is going up, up, up! The first thing you expected to happen, has: The silver pieces you have been picking up at garage sales and thrift shops are harder to find. Things are still around of course… But what is left sitting out is the silver plated stuff…

Silver plated items have been gong up in value… But surprisingly, it’s not only because silver is going up in value. It’s actually rising more because copper is going up in value.Thats right, folks. Silver plate is usually a Copper alloy base.

When people hear this, they are often taken aback… Well then, why is it sometimes white? Well that brings me to my second major point. Silver plate is also often a Nickel alloy base.

So to summarize, silver plate is either a mixture of Nickel or Copper, two of the most expensive metals in the scrap base metal recycling industry.

What are the different types of silver plate?

  • Pure Copper Base: This is easy to spot. Hit it with a file, or hit it with a grinder really quick, and when you see that beautiful copper color, you’ll know. When you come across a piece of plated silverware or something of that nature, it will usually NOT be pure copper under the silver plate because copper is too weak to be used as a utensil. It would bend and deflect too easily, so there is often some type of alloying elements.
  • Copper/Zinc Brass Base: This is just the standard yellow brass we are all familiar with.
  • Cupronickel: is an alloy or copper and nickel, and is german for copper nickel (Germans are not very abstract when it comes to words, it seems). Cupronickel comes in all sorts of alloys, and all types of values. 30/70 curponickel (30% copper and 70% nickel) is the most valuable but rarely used in silverware. 90/10 cupronickel is worth the least. I often find 70/30 cupronickel as the base for silver plated pieces, and many times silver imitation is also 70/30 cupronickel. Many yards will have a separate list of cupronickel prices (often worth more than copper), and less interested yards buy it at brass price.
  • German Silver: This is an uglier version of cupronickel, containing copper, nickel, and zinc. Usually in a mixture of 60, 20, 20 respectively. This is worth at least brass price at your local scrap yard, but is hard to discern from regular cast zinc: The trick is to look for some type of green oxidizing, which means it’s a copper alloy. If it is a white metal, but has green oxidizing, then it must be a nickel/copper alloy of some sort.
  • Pure Nickel: Very rarely seen in anything modern, but more often found in very old silver plated pieces. Honestly, if you find a pure nickel silver plated piece, it is likely worth much, much more as an antique then as scrap.
I hope you see this as an opportunity to make some money! Usually you will need to buy some of this stuff in bulk to feel like you are getting any sort of deal. Some places, like garage sales and thrift stores, will often have this type of stuff lying around gathering dust. Use this to your advantage!To cash in on your scrap silver plated items, you can easily sell them to your local scrap yard. Some scrap yards will be friendlier then others, so call ahead for pricing and to get a feeling for whether or not a yard seems understanding. Some scrap yards even have a special “silver plated scrap” price.

If you liked this simple money making tip, please subscribe to our website, or join our Scrap Metal Community to learn even more about the hidden value of what other people call “junk”.

 

{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

silberkanne August 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm
Pete October 7, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Ive picked up a several silver plated and set of what looked like brass candle holders at garage sales recently, thinking I could melt them for their brass, but latter put a neodyium hard drive magnet upto them and got a slight pull, so obviously its not the brass I thought it was. The pull is significantly stronger than the pull the magnet exerts on a nickel coin (so I doubt it is 90/10 or even 70/30 cupronickel) If i drill through the plating it still shows a bright silver color Any ideas of what the base metal could be???

I was thinking some sort of stainless steel before reading your site, now Im thinking maybe german silver, but I really am not sure: I cant find anywhere saying whether german silver is slightly magnetic or not, nor have a found anywhere saying stainless steel is frequently silver plated. Very confused scrapper/brass caster, thanks for anyhelp

Originally thought all silver plate was copper or brass, better start bringing a magnet to garage sales

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 8, 2011 at 12:43 am

I’ve never heard of silver plated stainless. My guess is that it is german silver (Nickel, zinc, copper), or a higher grade cupronickel (70% nickel 30% copper). Its hard to say anything about what it is made of without a picture… (Also, you could try a density test; measure mass, divide by its volume.)

Call around to different scrap yards, and ask them to test it with an XRF handheld analyzer. If you are really curious, you can usually just show up and ask for a quick test. (They just shoot it with the spectrometer gun, and it instantly tells them which alloy it is.)

It sounds like you may have an unusual alloy; Keep us updated!

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chris lewis October 19, 2011 at 9:51 am

I have some silver plated candle sticks. I have checked with a magnet to see if I can find out what metal is underneath but it does not stick to the magnet. Do you have any idea what this could be and if so would it be of any value? Thanks

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 19, 2011 at 5:09 pm

Well it is one of the metals listed above (except for pure nickel) but I can’t tell you more then that. German silver, brass, copper, and cupronickel are all non-magnetic.

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Nancy October 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm

Dear ScrapMetalJunkie:
I have a bunch of Holmes & Edwards – inlaid I S flatware. Do you know who I can find to sell it to (besides on eBay)? A jeweler????
Thanks!

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm

It depends entirely on how much you have… eBay really does offer the best market, because you are reaching a majority of very small niche market by posting online. Local markets are much less competitive.

If you wanted to sell it for scrap price, you should call a local scrap yard and ask them for their pricing on silver plated items.

If you are interested, and if you have over a couple dozen pounds of the stuff, you could contact a local precious metal refiner to ask about what they pay for the scrap. (It does have silver value that should be recovered, but in small amounts, its just not worth it, and a scrap yard will prove most convenient.) Look for precious metal refiners up under the category of “smelters” or “refiners” or even include “precious metals” in your search. (try google places, or yelp.)

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delynda bray October 20, 2011 at 12:41 am

i have a creamer and sugar silverplare set by crescent silver mfgco. can you tell me what the letters SPNS and numbers 3052 stamped on the bottom of these pieces represent? and possibly the value of these items?

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ScrapMetalJunkie October 20, 2011 at 2:39 am

I’m pretty sure that SPNS is an abbreviation for “Silver plated nickel silver” or “Sheffield Plate Nickel Silver”. Either way, it just means that it is silver plated nickel silver. the 3052 is most likely a serial number. They are not worth much as scrap, and your best chance of making the most money would be to sell on eBay.

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Jennifer Kelly December 27, 2011 at 11:43 pm

I have a tray, butter dish and revere bowl that are silver plated. The butter dish top broke off and there is a dull silver color under the top. Looks like a pewter almost. They are very tarnished and I have no desire to clean them. They are 30 year old. I also have lots of silver plated flatware from my grandmother. How to I go about scraping it? It’s just sitting in my basement.

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ScrapMetalJunkie December 30, 2011 at 12:01 am

If they are in good condition, you should try selling on eBay as used. If not, then I still think eBay would bring more value then a scrap yard. List them as “Scrap Silver Plate” etc.

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Mark Duddleston January 2, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Are silver plated switch gear pars worth scraping?

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 2, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Yes, they are! But if you are unable to find a fair price at your local scrap yard, I recommend selling them on eBay, or maybe Craigslist.

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Sharky January 24, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Can you please give me a step by step process… I’m interested in bulk processing

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Pat January 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm

I have a large silver plated punch bowl, it’s big enough to baptize a baby in, should I take it to a scrap yard or somewhere else?

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ScrapMetalJunkie January 27, 2012 at 6:03 am

You would be better off selling it on eBay, I’m guessing.

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Stephanie Needham September 29, 2012 at 2:02 pm

I have a ton of silver plated items. This is all great news. thanks for the information!

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Linda February 4, 2012 at 12:03 am

I have a few pieces that are from Birks, Rogers and also flatware that from the 30 I think a set for 12 but not all of it is there. Its all in very good shape even the platters. I dont have a clue what to sell for I would rather just sell it at the smae time. What do you suggest I do?
Linda

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Susan February 4, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I have some tarnished silver-plated items. Some just won’t clean up properly, either. Are these worthless as-is, or still considered valuable?

–Susan

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Michelle S February 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm

I recently found a Simeon and George Rogers Company pure silver on nickel silver base flatware set in the original wooden case along with ‘guarantee’ papers. The set also has extra pure silver plating at the wear point. What is the likelihood it has any value?

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Rusty March 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Does anyone know of a scrap yard in the Livermore, california area who have an xrf gun? i have pounds of silverplate and brass scrap to sell…

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moneyMike March 25, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Have this large silver bowl that I just buffed the tarnish off last night and boy is it pretty! lol

Id like to know the value and age of course and perhaps because of its age, silver & copper it has value?
Here is the exact markings:

WILCOX (written in neat fine lines)
[I] [S]
International Silver Co
Rochelle
2786

From what I understand from the research Iv done so far, it seems the I S in boxes mean Silver Plated. The numbers either the serial number or/and this was number 2786 on the assembly line?

The name Rochelle is weird to me. Did they give these pieces names?

There’s copper coming through inside the bowl part but the rest is beautiful. There’s these details on the rim that I swear appears to be pure silver “welded” around the rim, it has that nice ‘silver look’ to it, but I doubt it would be without any markings indicating that it would be sterling/pure.

Id appreciate your response and will be sure to check back soon for one, thanks.. -$Mike

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tom dunawy June 4, 2014 at 2:21 pm

from what i have researched I S means international silver. hope it helps

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moneyMike March 25, 2012 at 3:50 pm

I found this other piece, its a large tea pot, I think. Definitely old and on the bottom its marked:

Silverplated, and there’s a lion standing on its hind legs I think holding a sword, and opposing it is a horse or maybe a Pegasus also with what may be a sword.

In between them is est 1905

The lion appears to have two sets of tails and back feet. I thought my eye’s were playing tricks on me because it was so small, but looking carefully its as if its a misprint. Course Im hoping it is, more money for Mike!

Again, any info on this piece too would be greatly appreciated since Im not able to find anything on it myself.

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Jerry March 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Is there any way to extract pure copper from cupronickle for the copper value? The silver plateing would be a bonus. My scrap yard I deal with wont take silverplate even though cupronickle is the base metal used on most silverplate. Seems there is a whole lot of copper hiding out there in the form of cupronickle.

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 31, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Yes, but what is actually more valuable is the Nickel!!! Nickel is worth 3x as much as copper, and that is really where you can make some money! Unfortunately, silver plated brass is usually yellow brass, or german silver, which is copper nickel zinc alloy. (less nickel, more zinc) I suggets you put any silver plated items up for sale on eBay, where you will generally get better prices than any scrap yard.

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Mary M March 31, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Ihave a ladle which is stamped JHardy Aberdeen (where I live at the moment). It also has an A on it which I think means high grade plate -is this worth anything at all. Would go to Ramsdens but don’t want to be laughed out of the shop.
Thanks

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ScrapMetalJunkie March 31, 2012 at 4:53 pm

It’s worth at least $1.50 per pound at a scrap yard for the base metal.

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Ann237 April 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm

I bought several items at an estate sale that are all from the Asian countries, they are made of jade and old silver. They are post 1940s, was the old silver made the same way during that time period?

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Michelle May 19, 2012 at 10:20 pm

I’ve got 3 what looks like shot glasses underneath it says kent then I have 5 candleholders that say godinger silver art co ltd I also have the dish that says wm a Rogers please help

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Dudley Pitt July 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I would like to know how to get the silver out of silver plate, can you help? I found one sit that used acid and heat, but I lost the site. I have about 10 five gallon buckets full of silver plate and would like to try to get the silver out.
Help.

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Madison July 21, 2012 at 11:24 pm

I have a Wm Rogers tea set. It is stamped 800 and know that means it is German metal. I did the file test and it is silver. Is it worth anything as scrap metal. I know selling on ebay would only bring maybe $25. Really need cash (off work sick for 2 months without pay). Thanks!!!

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Anthony A. August 5, 2012 at 1:49 am

Hey, I have a lot of fifth avenue collection jewlery (modern), my mom used to sell them as a bussiness, I i am pretty sure that they are silver and gold plate. I totaled up the retail value (on the price tags) and it was about $2500 of crystal jewlery and silver and gold plate jewlery (with a few stone jewlery pieces).
Would i be better of selling them as jewlery and at retail prices or scrap it?

Please let me know.

Thanks,
Anthony

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Brooke M. August 22, 2012 at 2:02 am

I have some Christofle Rubans silverware ( 3 forks & 3 spoons) and I was wondering if they are worth any money. By the marks they are from 1935. Do you know what is under the silver plate? are they worth more as scrap? any info. would be appreciated.

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jacob coop October 15, 2012 at 1:18 am

i have a lot of silver plate its old silverware but i filed a peice and it is just silver all the way through and does not stick to a magnet. can anyone tell me what this could be please and thank you.

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Luk October 15, 2012 at 6:53 pm

hello,
I’d like to get an info that will help a lot of us to decide what to do with our scrap silverplated cuttlery.
How much silver is there on the standard “90″silverplated cuttlery piece. (please write in grams) How big are the looses because of the recovery process and are there big differences between the spoons/forks/knives/small spoons.

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djsilverinquirer November 9, 2012 at 2:28 am

I have a 12 piece place setting of wm rogers revelation pattern 1938 with the monogram “J” on it. I would really like to know how to get the most money from it. I have never even used it. I would just like some info

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mary November 14, 2012 at 8:16 pm

I have
over 75 pieces of sikverplate bout in the 1950′s and 60′s. is it worth anything?

I have over 75 pieces of silverplate bought in the late 1950′s and early 1960′s. Is it worth anything?

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Scott December 30, 2012 at 5:03 pm

Would you be able to give me an average price per pound for silver plate in the scrap market? I’m having trouble finding quotes and the local yards in my area seem less than enthusiastic about buying! Thanks :)

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Chayne January 13, 2013 at 11:40 am

ok I have a question? I have a hartford gravy boat silver plated on 18% Nickel. Is that considered silver plated on pure 18% Nickel?

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dominic February 22, 2013 at 5:28 am

I buy silver plated items top $$ paid contact me at 609 705 one one 33

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455 stainless bars February 27, 2013 at 8:26 am

you can sell it to junk shops or you can melt them yourself as long as you have the right equipment.

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Carlie March 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I have a tea pot that is very old it reads on
The bottom Silver.on copper it was my great
Great great aunts. Do you know if the spout
And legs are likely to be real silver ? I can’t seem
To get to the copper on the legs or spout

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Phyllis March 18, 2013 at 5:51 pm

I have a few pieces marked plated silver, some are stamped with EPNS…should all this go to the scrap yard? And does anyone know if PK Metals on Long Island have a gun to test these items ? Thanks

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Cindy April 5, 2013 at 9:56 pm

I have what appears to be most of a set of silver plated (I think) WM. A. Rodgers flatware.
They are old and tarnished.
Just wondering if I should scrap them or find someone who might want them as a set?

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Barbara Ann April 16, 2013 at 4:34 am

Is there a value difference in silverplate vs silver over copper? I found the hallmarks for Sheridan but most show silverplate over copper. My piece has the hallmarks but only silverplate. Is one better than the other? Or is it just a way to date an item? I have a large tray used as a engraved presentation piece from 1968. So it is at least that old.

Thanks for what you do for us who want to know.

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tyrock98 April 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm

I work at a hospital and came across some disposable defibrillator patches. Normally they go in the trash after they are used. I was wondering if the wire is made up of mostly silver. For defibrillation the electrical energy needs to get to the person at a fairly rapid rate and I know silver is much more conductive than copper/aluminum. I looked at the wires and they appear to be silver in color. Also – with medical equipment manufacturers usually aren’t stingey! Any ideas?

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Elizabeth Taylor May 7, 2013 at 11:47 am

Check out the website Replacements.com. They buy all types of silver, china, and crystal.

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zeejay July 12, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Hi I came across a box that has chemical percentage 30% grade silver and 70% grade copper, any easy way to extract silver from it???????

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glyn July 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm

I have a 72pc cutlery set it 18/10 ; is it worth anything

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Heather Desormeaux September 27, 2013 at 9:05 pm

Just reading through this thread. Was originally looking for info on cobalt elsewhere on your site. Found lots of information on other metals. Started wandering around your site following your links. You must be a saint. Will you start car, art and antique appraising? Don’t you wish you could throw bleach in the gene pool? People baffle me. Have yourself a great day. Cheers.

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Sue January 26, 2014 at 2:21 pm

Funny, not many of the question “askers” actually read your article. Thanks, helpful to me. Now just need to find a scrap yard. Thanks again for all the info.

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Juanita May 25, 2014 at 3:08 am

I have 3 pieces of rodgers nickel silver flat wear. Is it more valuable as scrap or just being old.

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Darla May 29, 2014 at 9:15 am

Hello!

I came across a box of flatware at a rummage sale. Found numerous Rogers & Monroe Silver Co. flatware and I have a few pieces of silver plated flatware that is showing a copper hue due to the usage of the flatware. I was told that the Rogers set and the Monroe set ranges from 1930′s to 1950′s. Absolute gorgeous pieces. Was going to cut and make jewelry out of them, however, was told NO! ;) Because of the value of the pieces. Your thoughts?

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Shari June 1, 2014 at 8:43 am

I am trying to figure out the best way to find the value of some silver trays from my grandmother so I may put them on ebay. They are over 50 years old.

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Shari June 1, 2014 at 8:43 am

I am trying to figure out the best way to find the value of some silver trays from my grandmother so I may put them on ebay. They are over 50 years old. Thank you

Reply

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