A century ago when sterling silver was a relatively cheap metal, it was used much more extensively than it is today to make all kinds of items that were used by people every day. Most every home had silver, or silver-plated flatware, salt and pepper shakers, candlesticks and candelabras, serving plates and dishes, barware and other items for daily use.
Of all the silver items that were made for daily use, however, one really stands out as a good investment . . .
Sterling silver shaving mugs
In case you don’t know, shaving mugs look like coffee mugs. They were used to whip up shaving foam – the user put a cake of shaving soap into them, added hot water, and swirled around a shaving brush to make a nice warm lather.
If you buy and recycle silver for profit, shaving mugs are one of the items you should be looking for. And here are some of the reasons why . . .
- They are big. Many sterling silver mugs contain 70 grams of silver or more. That translates to about $35.00 at current trading prices, and it is not uncommon to find them at house sales and online auctions for half that price.
- They are common. They were very popular items in the old days, and many are still rolling around today.
- They are often undervalued. This happens when casual sellers (like people who are liquidating the contents of homes) mistake solid sterling shaving mugs for cheaper silver-plated mugs, which were much more common. Sellers throw a lot of old household items onto a table at an estate sale, and put an old shaving mug out for sale without looking to see whether it has any stampings that indicate that it is made of solid silver.
- They are easy to value and recycle. You can put solid sterling mugs on a scale and know right away how much silver they contain. Plus, recycling them is more straightforward than recycling mixed-material items like glasses or picture frames that have silver decorations. We can process them easily for you at Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.
What to Look For
- Mugs from prestigious manufacturers. Look stamps from makers like Gorham, Lunt, Reed and Barton, or St. Louis Silver.
- Stamps that indicate whether the mug is sterling or silver-plated. Most all antique shaving mugs have stamped markings on the bottom to look for, or on the bottom of their handles.
- Mystery items. We know one collector who bought a solid silver shaving mug with no markings, just on the chance that it was solid silver. His best guess, probably correct, was that it was an item that its previous owner bought while on vacation in South America. He snagged it for $15.00 at an estate sale and it was worth more than twice that. Not a bad return on investment.
What about Silver-Plated Mugs?
They contain silver too and can be recycled, but you will have to get your hands on a large quantity of them to make it worthwhile. And recycling plated items is less than an exact science – it takes testing to know how thick the plating is and how much silver a mug (or other item) contains. And after the testing and processing costs, there might not be enough silver to make all that effort worthwhile.
What about Silver-Trimmed Shaving Brushes and Safety Razors?
They, like shaving mugs, were manufactured in large quantities about a century ago. They can be good investments too. But because they contain smaller quantities of silver than mugs, they fall into the category of scrap that you can add to mixed lots of items like candlesticks, knives and forks, and salt shakers.
Shaving mugs, in contrast, are bigger and heavier – and therefore, can deliver a bigger return on your speculative dollar.
When you find something interesting, give our precious metals recycling consultants a call at 800-426-2344. We will happy to talk about your discovery with you and explain your next steps to recycle it profitably.
Selling Silver or Platinum? How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off
Why You Can Make More Money than Ever by Recycling Silver
Three Easy-to-Overlook Sources of Silver Scrap
Platinum Sterling: What You Need to Know about this Precious Alloy