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Beware of out of Skew Auction Results for Rare Antique Silver

Updated: Mar 6

Beware of out of Skew Auction Results for Rare Antique Silver. When we make bids at auctions to purchase rare silver for resale or to purchase silver items for our Silver Museum, we typically will comb the internet for comparable sales to make sure our bid offers are in line with the current market. We don't want to bid too high nor do we want to bid to low and miss out on something.

We have recently discovered that there are many times where you find comparable auction results that are completely out of skew with the reality of the current market place. There are times when auction prices soar way beyond what the real market price is currently valued.

We are going to showcase two examples here today:

I saw this Los Castillo of Mexico swan plated mixed metal largely brass 3 part divided dish pop up on Ebay for under $500.00. I did a comparables search and found that the same exact item had sold at Sotheby's for $5,292 Euros in one of their recent auctions. I thought to myself, "This is my lucky day! I'm going to buy this for $500 and make a 10x profit!" However, I scratched my head and thought, "How can this piece have sold for so much money?"

I did some more comparable searches on Etsy, Ebay, Chairish and a few other auction sites. I found 10 pieces of the same exact item that were all currently for sale between $200- $500 each. This is frankly the value I had assessed the piece was worth in my head in the first place.

My conclusion was that this was a one time auction crazed bidding situation where the price realized was way over the actual market price.

I had this same experience with another piece that I was prospectively looking to purchase.

I found a lovely Tiffany Mixed Metal Sterling Silver Water Pitcher for sale on Live Auctioneers with a bid range of $6,000 to $8,000. I had been monitoring the Tiffany Mixed Metal Sterling Silver category for several years and that price range seemed fair, not too low and now too high.

I made a bid of $6,500. The item went for $40,000 with buyer's premium!

When I had originally researched the piece, I had found that that this same exact piece had sold in year 2021 for $7,500 on Bidsquare. This was the price what was in line with what my own assessment of what is should be valued.

When I saw that it now went for $40,000 only 3 years later, my conclusion was that was a one time incident where some bidders got carried away at auction and paid about 5 times more than what the real market price was currently at. All I could think of here was, "Did the world just go upside down? This is a ludicrous price and the buyer who paid it just screwed themselves by overpaying by around 4-5 times of what the true mark price is currently at."

The lesson to be learned from all this is that if you are looking to purchase or bid on an item by using internet auction results to rely on what you think the values are at, just be cautious and conservative. Don't just rely on one comparable bid. Find several comparable results to verify that you are not basing your evaluation on one out of skew bid where the auction company and their seller got really lucky on a particular auction day. Good luck buying and bidding out there and please don't over pay based on faulty on-line search intel.

We Buy!

We want to purchase silver pieces like the ones shown above!

If you have items that you'd like to sell,

or even just want to get an idea on valuation

please click the email us button for a quote.

Please send us photos, measurements and item descriptions.


Greg Arbutine

Silver Museum Owner

The Silver Museum buys mixed metal sterling silver pieces.

Please sell your Mixed Metal Sterling Silver Pieces to The Silver Museum!

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Great Article!

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