Why Your Local Museum Is Probably Sitting on Undiscovered Precious Metals

Why Your Local Museum Is Probably Sitting on Undiscovered Precious Metals

We have written before on this blog about good places to hunt for undiscovered precious metals – places like old jewelry factories, wells, drain pipes, and even graveyards.

Today, we would like to add one more place to look for old gold, silver, and platinum items that you can recycle profitably . . .

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Are Your Parents Going to a Nursing Home? Here Are the Best Strategies for Dealing with their Jewelry

Are Your Parents Going to a Nursing Home? Here Are the Best Strategies for Dealing with their Jewelry

If you have an elderly relative who is about to enter a nursing home or assisted living, chances are you are already working with a counselor who is helping you deal with their financial assets. Today’s post is not meant to serve as a substitute for the expert advice you can get from those counselors, who know the ins and outs of Medicare and other factors that can impact on financial planning for elders.

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Don’t Fall Victim to Counterfeit Sterling Silver

Don’t Fall Victim to Counterfeit Sterling Silver

Why would anybody bother to counterfeit sterling silver? After all, silver sells for lower prices than any other precious metal. Why would anybody take the trouble to counterfeit it? The simple answer is that counterfeiters have learned to take cheap, silver-plated tableware, stamp them so they look like they were made by prestigious manufacturers, then sell them to collectors for high prices. In other words, they are artificially inflating the collectible value, not the metallic value. 

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Get a Grip on Your Silver Investments

Get a Grip on Your Silver Investments

When you consider those traits side by side – beauty, softness and a tendency to tarnish – it explains why silver has often been used to fashion handles for a variety of objects that you should be on the lookout for when you go hunting for precious metals in house sales, antique stores or estate sales. You will only rarely find knives with silver blades, for example, they wouldn’t hold up well. But you will find many of these objects...

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Don’t Be Fooled into Buying these Metal Items

Don’t Be Fooled into Buying these Metal Items

Shakespeare once wrote, “All that glitters is not gold.” If he had thought about it, he could have written something similar about silver, platinum, rhodium, and other precious metals. The fact is that some shiny things that look like they should be worth a lot of money really aren’t. They either don’t contain any precious metals at all or they contain such small quantities that there is no point sending them to a qualified precious metals refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, because the cost of extracting those metals will be greater than the value of the metals themselves.

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Make Money Investing in Silver Shot Glasses and Barware

Make Money Investing in Silver Shot Glasses and Barware

Why would anyone invest in a set of sterling silver or silver-plated shot glasses, in a silver cocktail shaker, or in sterling swizzle sticks? It seems a little crazy. Silver tarnishes after all, and keeping it shining bright is a time-consuming chore. Why not just buy items made of glass or stainless steel and skip the tubs of silver polish?

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Why Watching Downton Abbey Can Help You Make Money in Precious Metals

Why Watching Downton Abbey Can Help You Make Money in Precious Metals

Watching Downton Abbey can alert you to all kinds of antique precious-metal items that you can find if you’re shopping online, at antique stores, at estate sales . . . just about everywhere old metal items can be found. Here’s a checklist of items that we noticed during just one episode of the show...

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Sterling Silver Flatware Brands and Marks to Watch For

Sterling Silver Flatware Brands and Marks to Watch For

Be aware that if you find even one spoon or fork from one of these prestigious makers, your discovery could be worth a lot of money to silver dealers, individuals whose sets are missing the item that you found, or as sterling silver that we can recycle for you.

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How to Buy Underpriced Silver at Estate and Home Sales

How to Buy Underpriced Silver at Estate and Home Sales

Experienced silver-hunters tell us that they find much more silver at home sales than they find in antique malls, where everything has been picked over by antique dealers or estate sale specialists. If you’re lucky, you may stumble onto entire boxed sets of sterling silver tableware – you might even find an heirloom set of Old English silver.

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Adding Value to Your Silver: What You Need to Know about Niello

Adding Value to Your Silver: What You Need to Know about Niello

You have probably seen niello without knowing what it was. It looks like black enamel that has been painted into the indentations around geometric patterns on the surface of decorative silver belt buckles, goblets, candlesticks and other objects. But niello isn’t paint. It is actually a compound made of silver, sulphur and other chemicals.

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How to Tell the Difference Between Silver, White Gold and Platinum

How to Tell the Difference Between Silver, White Gold and Platinum

If you go shopping at antique malls or estate sales, you will discover a number of items for sale that are made of gray metal. How can you tell if they are made of silver, white gold or platinum?

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Why Older Rings, Trophies and Beer Steins are Worth Searching for and Recycling

Why Older Rings, Trophies and Beer Steins are Worth Searching for and Recycling

If you walk into an estate sale or antique shop, chances are good that you will find trophies, class rings, beer steins and tabletop cigarette lighters. They all found their way into many American homes in years gone by. Those items are so common that it is easy to forget that they often contain significant quantities of silver and gold that are well worth recycling.

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Open Things Up, Find Precious Metals, Make Money

In the last five years, I have been in two old buildings that contained large old safes that could not be opened. One building was a small inn in New Hampshire, the other was a former plumbing supply store in New Jersey. In both instances, the buildings had recently been purchased, so the safes and their contents belonged to the new owners. But those owners didn’t seem to be in a big hurry to bring in a locksmith to open the safes to determine what was inside.

If I owned those safes, I would have been in a hurry. What were the new owners waiting for? I have no idea, because “closed boxes” sometimes contain surprisingly valuable items. And “closed boxes” can come in many forms . . .

As this photo shows, you never know what precious metal objects you might find in your house that Specialty Metals can recycle into extra money for you.

Clutter Lying Around the House

A cousin of mine who was cleaning up his basement storage shelves found a box that he and his wife had never opened. When he looked inside, he discovered a set of silver-plated candlesticks from a prestigious store. Where had they come from? Was it a wedding present that he and his wife had never bothered to open? He and his wife didn’t know, but they did know that they had something on their hands that was worth money.

Small Items Hiding in Drawers

When I open my dresser drawer and review what is rolling around in there, a lot of items appear worthless. But I also see a set of very old tuxedo-shirt studs that came from “somewhere” and look like gold. There is also an old set of cufflinks, which came from the same “somewhere.” I could use some cash for holiday spending. I should send them to a trustworthy, qualified gold refiner and recycler like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners for testing.

Inherited Items

I know people who inherited “stuff” from parents or grandparents, and who have never quite gotten around to taking a close look at it or having it appraised. They have just put it all aside. It can be a good and very profitable idea to review what you have inherited, especially if you are lucky enough to have acquired items like coin collections or chests of jewelry. If you open them up, you might find one or two small items that are worth a lot of money.

Items Hidden in Older Homes

This is a long shot, I know. But I also know that when some renovations were being completed in the old house where I grew up, we found a collection of old books hidden behind a false wall by the basement stairs. They were not worth much of anything. But if you have an old house, it could be a good idea to look around. In the old days, it seems that people liked to hide valuable things in houses.  That newer patch of cement in the basement floor could be hiding something. So could a floorboard in your bedroom. Remember, metal detectors can be used indoors as well as outdoors. If you have an old home, you could turn up something quite valuable.

Keys to Safety Deposit Boxes

If you have inherited the personal possessions of an older relative who has passed away, have you taken a close look at his or her keys? If any of them are stamped with the name of a bank, you could have the opportunity to discover things of value like gold jewelry that your relative wanted to protect in a safety deposit box.

A Note on Unclaimed Safety Deposit Boxes

If you search online for “unclaimed bank safety deposit box auctions” you will probably find them in your state. Don’t get your hopes up too high, however, that you will buy an unopened deposit box and discover piles of gold in it. The problem is that in virtually all cases, those boxes have been opened by the bank so that their contents could be turned over to the state agency that attempts to return unclaimed property to its owners. The items that go on sale at auction are those that could not be returned – and if they are worth a lot of money, they have already been “discovered” and will be selling for high prices.

Find Something? Call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners

Even small items that contain precious metals can be worth money – money that could come in very handy at the time of year when the holiday shopping season is about to begin. Why not contact Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to learn more?

Related Posts:

Need Extra Cash for the Holidays? Why Not Recycle Your Precious Metals Now?
Four Tactics for Finding Precious Metals at Estate Sales
Why You Can Make More Money than Ever by Recycling Silver
Checklist of Places to Look for Precious Metals in Your Home

Why It Will Always Pay to Recycle Gold

We live in a world where the latest and most high-tech materials are always in the news. When Ferrari recently showcased a new supercar made almost entirely of carbon fiber, the world became enthralled with that material. When people learned that the surfaces of space shuttles are covered with advanced silica ceramic tiles, everyone suddenly started to think about advanced ceramics. Today Ferrari, Porsche and other car makers are offering very expensive ceramic brake rotors on their vehicles.

While modern materials have remarkable qualities, the fact remains that gold – that’s right, good old gold, an element with the symbol AU and an atomic number of 79 – still stands apart for some very remarkable properties that are unequalled by most other materials . . .

Why is the demand for recycled gold high? All the gold that’s ever been mined in the history of the world would only make up a cube about 60 feet on each side. Image courtesy of waitbutwhy.com

Why is the demand for recycled gold high? All the gold that’s ever been mined in the history of the world would only make up a cube about 60 feet on each side. Image courtesy of waitbutwhy.com

Gold Is Beautiful

Beauty is gold’s most obvious property, so let’s mention it first. Carbon fiber and ceramics are pretty unattractive in comparison.

Gold Resists Corrosion and Oxidation

Items of gold jewelry that were made thousands of years ago still look just like they did when they were made. Only cyanide, nitro-hydrochloric acid and a few other chemicals have any effect on gold. That’s another reason why gold remains the metal of choice for jewelry.

Gold Is Malleable and Soft

While that might seem to be a disadvantage, in gold it is a plus. Since ancient times, jewelers have fashioned ornaments of all kinds from gold because it is so easy to work with. And after a piece of jewelry has been made of gold, that softness can be another virtue. It is one reason rings made of gold are easy to resize.

Gold Is an Excellent Conductor of Electricity

Here’s another one of gold’s remarkable properties. It explains why gold is found in many places where electrical components must be joined together. Two examples? The contact tips that are used on high-end audio equipment cables and the pins that are found underneath computer CPU chips.

Gold Is Scarce

Given the fact that we can see gold in so many places, it is hard to believe that it is a rare precious metal. Estimates vary, but according to GFMS, an organization that monitors gold mining, only about 174,000 tons of gold have been mined in all of human history. If all that gold were mashed together, the result would be a cube that would be only about 60 feet on a side. (It might fit in your back yard.) Geologists believe that the earth contains vast quantities of unmined gold, but that it will never be extracted because it lies miles underground.

A Lot of the World’s Gold Is Tied Up in Investments

According to some estimates, 40% of the world’s gold is unavailable because it is being held by investors. It is not available for manufacturing. That makes gold on the free market even scarcer – and more valuable.

Demand for Recycled Gold Is High

According to an organization that monitors gold, goldfacts.org, one-third of all the gold that is sold every year comes from recycled items. That means that there is very real demand – and that very real dollars are waiting – for the gold that you recycle using the services of a highly qualified gold refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners.

Gold Can Be Hiding in Plain Sight

For such a scarce metal, it is pretty easy to find quantities of gold – provided you are on the lookout for it at estate sales, in items you have inherited, in antique stores, in dental scrap, and even in river beds.

If You Have Gold, Call Us Today at 800-426-2344

In today’s post, we’ve outlined some of the reasons why gold is beautiful, useful, and scarce. Demand for this most beautiful of all metals is never going to go away. Why not contact us today to learn more?

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The Mystery and Mastery of Gold Refining


What Are Your Collectable Medals Worth?

When a medal sold for $1.47 million last year, lots of people started to dust off their medals and look at them with renewed interest. Granted, that medal was something unbelievably special. It was one of the four gold medals won by Jesse Owens at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. (Kind of takes your breath away, doesn’t it?)

If you own a commemorative medal – or maybe a quantity of them - how much value do you have in hand? It depends, because the value of medals depends on several factors.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

Commemorative medals like those in this picture may have more value as collector's items... but older medals frequently contain more precious metals, too.

The Collectable Worth

The value of a commemorative medal is affected by a number of factors that include age, country of origin, rarity, and the history of the person or event honored by the medal. (This could be harder to determine, especially if you obtained the medals at an estate sale, garage sale or antique dealer.) How can you research those variables? Here are resources to use . . .

  • Contact an independent appraiser or expert. These organizations can help you connect with one: The American Numismatic Society; the American Numismatic Association; the Token and Medal Society. Note that it is wisest not to get your medals appraised by a dealer who then buys them; if dishonest, he or she could be lowballing you and stealing dollars right out of your pocket.
  • Research the sales of similar or identical medals at auctions. You can start out by checking previous or current sales of similar medals on eBay. Another option is to visit the websites of auction houses that regularly hold auctions of medals and medallic art. They include: Bonhams; Christies; and Spink.

The Value of the Metals that Your Medals Contain

If your medal(s) do not have high collectable value, your next step is to determine the metals that they are made of.

How can you tell? Sometimes it is easy. Jesse Owens’s gold medal was made of real gold, of course. And silver and bronze medals are often (but not always) made of those metals too. Sometimes, commemorative medals will come with documentation that spells out exactly which metals they contain, especially if they are military medals.

Short of such clear signals, it can be difficult to know the makeup of the medals that you own. There are variables, including country of origin and age. In general, newer commemoratives – especially those manufactured in large quantities over the last few years – are apt to contain lower quantities of precious metals than are older medals that were issued in small editions.

If you are trying to determine the value of the metals in a batch of commemorative medals, your wisest strategy is to contact a qualified precious metals recycler or refiner, like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners.

To Summarize Your Steps . . .

To sum up the advice in today’s post, your first step is to establish the collectible value of your medals. Then, if they do not have high value to collectors, you should determine the value of the precious metals that they contain. For that, you need the services of a top precious metals refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters & Refiners. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Recycling Gold Filled Scrap - Big Dollars Could Be Hiding in Small Items
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Four Tactics for Finding Precious Metals at Estate Sales

If you have attended estate sales, you know that most of them are pretty similar. A company that specializes in liquidating home possessions has gone over the contents of the house, looked things over, taken away any high-value items that have turned up, and gotten things organized for sale day. On that day, a line of people will be outside, waiting for the sale to start. When the doors open, the situation inside the house will look like the aisles of Walmart on Black Friday as people shoulder past one another, looking for treasures.

Image courtesy of njestateservice(dot)com

Image courtesy of njestateservice(dot)com

But Do Not Give Up Hope . . .

Despite the fact that everything will have been examined by the company that is liquidating the contents of the home, it is still possible to find precious metals if you apply these tactics.

Focus on Little Things

Many of the shoppers at estate sales are looking for items that are quite visible, like furniture, silver candelabras, pianos, collections of dolls, electric train sets, rugs, lamps, light fixtures, and chests of silverware. You can find precious metals by adopting a different strategy, by looking for very small items that contain gold, silver and platinum – items like pens, lighters, and cigarette holders and cases.

Look in Cluttered Areas

You are unlikely to find any undiscovered small items made of precious metals on tables or in cases where the estate liquidation company has laid out items for display. But you might be able to find items made of gold and other precious metals hiding in cluttered, disorganized jewelry boxes, in dresser drawers, or even in shoeboxes. The more cluttered and disorganized the area, the more likely it is that you will find something valuable that other people missed.

Look for Shiny Items

As you look at a jumble of costume jewelry, knickknacks or kitchen items, let your eye gravitate toward items that are shiny. This technique will lead you to many items that are not valuable, such as costume jewelry and ceramics with gold-toned glazes. But it will also help you zero in on small items of potential value like gold-plated pen barrels, gold shirt studs, gold-plated belt buckles and other gold-plated jewelry items that can be profitably recycled by a qualified precious metals recycler.

Look for Tarnished Items

This tactic is the opposite of the one just above. Instead of using your eyes to find shiny items, look for items that are gray and tarnished – in other words, items that are silver-plated or made of pure silver like silverware. For example, this strategy will help you quickly scan a box of old kitchenware – serving spoons, spatulas and napkin rings - and focus immediately on silver items that can be profitably recycled.

Putting these Tactics to Work . . .

These strategies can help you find precious metals, even in crowded house sales. They also work well in antique malls, at estate auctions, and in other settings where a number of old items are set out for sale. If you capture some promising items and are not sure what they are, call us at 800-426-2344 and tell us about the potential treasures you have on hand. One conversation with our specialists could help you claim big dollars from the little items you have discovered.

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Don’t Let Precious Metals Slip through Your Fingers when You’re Liquidating an Estate

I was visiting some cousins of mine a few years ago after their mother – my aunt - had died. While we were sitting around catching up and chatting, one of them came into the room with a jewelry box and said, “Here’s that box of costume jewelry that we were talking about – we should all take a look and pick a few items that we’d like to have.”

Shown: a box of costume jewelry from an inherited estate that could be hiding valuable karat gold and other precious metals.

As they started to pass the box around, I asked “Who said that there’s nothing in there but costume jewelry?”

One of my cousins answered, “Well, mom always said that she kept her costume jewelry in this box.”

I urged them to take a closer look, and one of my cousins pulled out two small items – a small decorative pin and a little pendant watch – that appeared to be made of yellow gold, and which needed a closer examination by a qualified appraiser or precious metals refinery.

As I think you will agree, that story illustrates how easy it is to make quick – and wrong – decisions when liquidating an estate. There are so many details to handle, and so much property to look at, that it is all too easy to let valuable property get away. Here are smart steps to take instead.

Ask a Lot of Questions

That’s what my cousins weren’t doing in the story that I told at the start of today’s post. Their mom had always told them that the jewelry box contained “costume jewelry,” and they accepted that without exploring any further.

People can make this mistake not just with precious metals, but with other estate items too. An “old decorative print that Auntie bought at a tag sale” could be a valuable original oil painting, and “Pop’s favorite old rocking chair” could be a valuable antique. So when you are dealing with an estate, get into the habit of looking at every item with critical eyes – and bring in a qualified appraiser to look everything over.

Avoid Turning Everything Over to One Antique Dealer

Most antique dealers are honest businesspeople who will alert you if they think they have found something valuable among the items that you are liquidating. But even honest antique dealers are in the business of acquiring items and selling them at a profit. If they discover something quite valuable among your items, they will acquire it from you at a low price and then sell it at a profit, because that is their business.

The message is that even though it is time-consuming and complex to look at all the items in an estate to find that one valuable item in 1,000, it can be worth the time you invest. So instead of calling an antique dealer first, consider having an independent appraiser review what you have. To find a qualified appraiser in your area, visit the American Society of Appraisers online.

Let Us Review All Your Metal Items

Most estates contain items that contain precious metals, including jewelry, silver items and silver-plated items. Although many of them might look similar to you, their value can vary dramatically. One example? Two silver-plated spoons that contain identical quantities of silver can be worth very different amounts of money if one of them has collectible value.

If you are not sure what kinds of metal items you have inherited, your next step is to call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. We’re here to provide information, and your call to us could help you discover all the dollars that could be hiding in the estate you have inherited.

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