Where Precious Metals Could Be Hiding in Your Home

Where Precious Metals Could Be Hiding in Your Home

Before you hop in your car and go looking for precious metals at home sales, in open fields, at antique stores and the other common places visited by people who hunt for gold and precious metals, why not ask this simple question? Are precious metals hiding right under your nose, right there in your home? The simple fact is, they could be. Here are some places that should be on your radar… 

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How to Eliminate the Middle Man and Get Top Dollar for Your Silver Scrap

How to Eliminate the Middle Man and Get Top Dollar for Your Silver Scrap

Silver scrap is a unique item in the world of recycling. In most cases, it isn’t found in a neat shiny bar or piece that a refiner can weigh and then say, “This is half a gram, and it is worth X number of dollars.” In most cases, silver scrap comes in forms like these...

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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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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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Need Extra Cash for the Holidays? Why Not Recycle Your Precious Metals Now?

Do you tend to leave a certain number of things unfinished? I know that I do, because I sometimes procrastinate. One example? I have two old snow tires that are leaning against the back wall of my garage. They don’t fit on my current car. I really should figure out what to do with them – sell them on Craigslist or take them to my mechanic to see if he can give me a few dollars for them maybe – but I never quite get around to it. I also have some nice old picture frames that I could cut down and use on some pictures that I have in the house. But do I do it? Of course not.

Many of our customers send us sterling silver flatware, silver-plated tableware and hollowware as shown above for us to refine and recycle.

Many of our customers send us sterling silver flatware, silver-plated tableware and hollowware as shown above for us to refine and recycle.

Another Class of Things You and I Should Attend to

Those are just a few examples of some of the loose threads that need to be tied up in my house and my life. Are you anything like me? If you are, then you have left some things undone too. So you and I should turn our attention to “loose threads” and put some extra dollars in our wallets right now, just in time for holiday spending. 

I’m referring to loose threads that involve precious metals that could potentially be refined and recycled. In my life, they include . . . .

  • A box of old silver-plated tableware that my wife and I inherited from somewhere, about 10 years ago. We don’t like it, we don’t use it, but it’s still sitting around. If I got it together to send it to a top silver refinery like Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners, I would probably get some cash for it, just in time for the holidays. How much money would I get? I don’t know, but Specialty Metals could tell me in no time at all. And just in case you thought Specialty Metals only deals with businesses, you would be wrong. They work with individuals like you and me, too.
  • A weird little gold charm that I inherited from my parents after they died. Maybe it belonged to my grandfather? It looks sort of like a dragon, only it has a little compartment in its stomach where it is possible to keep  . . . a pill, maybe? Not too sure what. I don’t know whether this strange little item is 18K or 24K gold or just what, but a top gold refinery like Specialty Metals could tell me in no time flat. Who knows, it could be worth a very nice chunk of change. If you look in your dresser drawers, you might find something similar.
  • A large old gold-toned salad fork and spoon that I ended up with somehow. They’re in a drawer in my dining room. I don’t even know where I got them. I doubt that they are made of gold. It’s much more likely that they are silver with some kind of thin gold plated finish on them. Are they worth $5 or $500? I have no way of knowing. But I do know that I can find out very fast by sending them to Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to be tested. And again, it would be good to have a little extra cash for the holidays.

What Are You Procrastinating About?

It’s one thing to be stalling about old snow tires, and another thing to be procrastinating about recycling items that could potentially contain very valuable quantities of precious metals.

So with the holidays coming up soon, today could be the day for you and me to get moving. Let’s call 800-426-2344 to turn the stuff we’ve been stalling about into cold cash.

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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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Why You Can Make More Money than Ever by Recycling Silver

It might surprise you to learn that until the middle of the 20th century, silver was not widely regarded as a precious metal. Prices were so low back then – in fact, historical data from The Silver Institute shows that silver was selling for only about 75¢ per troy ounce in 1950. Such giveaway prices explain why silver was used so extensively as plating and in pure form. The price of silver has fluctuated widely since then, but has been on a steady rise. By 1999, it was selling for nearly $10. And these days, it is trading for between $18-$20 on the London Fix.

Shown: Photo of shipment of silver-plated scrap sent to Specialty Metals by a customer to be refined and recycled for the best prices on silver.

Shown: Photo of shipment of silver-plated scrap sent to Specialty Metals by a customer to be refined and recycled for the best prices on silver.

To summarize: once silver was cheap, today it is not. That situation has created an opportunity, because older silver and silver-plated items that date from the days of cheap silver can be found just about anywhere – in estate sales, antique stores, auction houses, and elsewhere. If you can find those items and recycle the silver they contain by sending them to a silver refinery like Special Metals Smelters and Refiners, you can end up with a lot of money thanks to of today’s high silver prices.

What kind of older silver items should you be looking for?

Smaller Antique Items, Including

  • The handles and tips of walking canes
  • Letter openers
  • Lighters and lighter cases
  • Paperweights
  • Buttons
  • Belt buckles
  • Cigarette and cigar cases
  • Eyeglass frames and cases
  • Commemorative plates and medals
Many of our customers send us sterling silver flatware, silver-plated tableware and hollowware for us to refine and recycle.

Many of our customers send us sterling silver flatware, silver-plated tableware and hollowware for us to refine and recycle.

Tableware, Including

Adornments, Including

  • Jewelry of all kinds
  • Hair pins and combs
  • Pocket watches, fobs and chains

Home Decorations, Including

  • Candlesticks and candelabras
  • Picture frames
  • Light fixtures and switch plates
  • Mantle and wall clocks
  • Trophies

How to Cash In on Today’s Higher Silver Prices

Gather up your silver items and call Specialty Metals Smelters and refiners at 800-426-2344. Your collection of small silver and silver-plated items could be worth much more than you think.

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Checklist of Places to Look for Precious Metals in Your Home

Where are precious metals hiding in your home? Some of the places are obvious, like silverware, others less so. Appliances can be hiding platinum-bearing thermocouple wire. In addition to circuit boards, your electronics can be hiding gold contacts, pins and other meltables. So we created this checklist for you to use when you’re preparing to sell your home or simply doing some spring cleaning…

Shown: a kitchen filled with buried treasure - precious metal bearing appliances, silverware and more, that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.

Major appliances

  • Electric and gas stoves
  • Air conditioners
  • Refrigerators

Smaller appliances

  • Microwave ovens
  • Toasters and toaster ovens
  • Coffee makers, irons and other devices that generate heat

Household electronics

  • Radios and televisions
  • Remotes
  • Gaming consoles
  • Cellphones
  • Personal computers, computer components, and tablet computers

In the kitchen

Around the house

  • Silver and gold-plated trophies and plaques
  • Silver and gold-plated metal picture frames
  • Gold-plated faucets and bathroom fixtures (rare)
  • Old gold-plated lighting fixtures (rare)
  • Old gold, silver and platinum jewelry of all kinds
  • Old silver and gold-filled eyeglass frames
  • Coin collections
  • Darkroom supplies, chemicals and equipment

And if your spring cleaning uncovers any “buried treasure” in your home, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and we can help you figure out what you’ve got and how much it’s worth.

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What We Found While Hunting for Precious Metals on eBay

What will you find if you go to eBay and search for “gold,” “platinum,” “silver,” and other precious metals? It’s an interesting and potentially valuable experiment that can lead you to discover sources of precious metals that weren’t on your radar.

Here are some of the surprising items that we found . . .

Some results of our eBay Search for Gold . . .

Shown: an assortment of antique gold, silver and platinum items that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.
  • Covers for Kleenex boxes
  • Compacts and lipstick cases
  • Religious medals, crucifixes and mezuzahs
  • Fountain pens and mechanical pencils
  • Commemorative watches of many kinds
  • Rings, earrings, pendants, pins, and charms for charm bracelets
  • Pins from service clubs such as the Masons and the Kiwanis
  • Blazer buttons
  • Zippo lighters
  • Commemorative medals and coins
  • A gold-plated set of bar tools
  • A gold-covered wooden Buddha
  • A set of gold-filled demitasse coffee spoons
Shown: an assortment of silver and gold buttons items that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.

Some results of our eBay Search for Silver . . .

  • Silver-plated punch bowls, plates, and tableware
  • Silver bullion bars that celebrate and commemorate events
  • A set of silver casino tokens
  • Silver buttons
  • Religious coins and medals
  • Lighter and lipstick cases
  • World War II military collectables
  • A set of silver lids for Mason Jars

Some results of our eBay Search for Platinum . . .

Photo of antique fountain pens containing platinum gold and silver that can be recycled profitably by Specialty Metals.
  • Ballpoint and fountain pens
  • A set of antique fountain pen nibs
  • A vintage platinum box for carrying condoms
  • Commemorative buttons and pins for Harley-Davidson motorcycles and other products
  • An old platinum pin given to member of The Order of Lenin (USSR)
  • Old platinum-edged razor blades
  • A platinum cigarette holder

A Worthwhile Exercise

The virtual “field trip” that we took to eBay to search for precious metals turned out to be worthwhile. We had never stopped to think that old fountain pen nibs could be made of platinum, for example, or that covers for Zippo lighters were made from gold and silver. And what about gold-plated covers for Kleenex boxes?

Interesting, right? And possibly valuable too.  If you own an antique store or are cleaning out a house, doing your own search on eBay could help you discoverer items that could be more valuable than they appear.

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An Invitation to Jewelers, Pawnbrokers and Other Jewelry Professionals to Partner with Our Precious Metals Refinery

If you’re in a business that has given you a quantity of silver, platinum, or gold-containing items – like old cutlery, silverware, rings, watches – you definitely have precious metals that are worth refining. The problem is, it’s hard to understand just how much precious metal those items contain. And the more different items you have, the more confusing it becomes.

Shown: Jewelry and jewelry scrap containing platinum, gold, silver and other platinum group metals that Specialty Metals recycles and refines.
  • Older silver-plate, for example, can contain larger quantities of silver than more modern plated flatware and tableware do. But how can you know how much silver is really in your silverware or whether it is worth recycling?
  • Items of gold jewelry from other countries are often not stamped with standard karat numbers. Sometimes there are no numbers at all. What should you be looking for?
  • Older platinum jewelry sometimes has no markings to indicate how pure the platinum is. (Newer platinum jewelry is usually stamped with a marking like “950 Plat,” which means that the platinum is 95% pure.)

Avoid the Confusion

Often, the only way to cut through the confusion is to send your items to a qualified precious metals refinery that can analyze them and tell you precisely what you have. Why not call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 to talk things over? Even if you have a mixed collection of items, we can help you understand just what they are – and then help you get top dollar for the precious metals they contain.

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Why Big Dollars Could Be Hiding in Small Quantities of Silver Tableware

Did you just inherit a chest of silver or silver-plated tableware or a silver-plated tea service or punchbowl? If so, you could have something quite valuable on your hands.

Image showing sterling silver flatware, silver-plated tableware and hollowware that Specialty Metals can refine and recycle profitably for your company.

Silverware is different from other recyclables, because a lot of value can often be found in smaller quantities. If you want to recycle automotive catalytic converters for the platinum they contain, for example, you’ll need to have at least 500 of them before recycling becomes worthwhile. The same is true for gold-bearing printed circuit boards. Although they contain gold, only a large quantity of escrap will yield a significant amount of money.

Why Silverware Is Different

First, silverware is often collectible. If you want an example of just how much one chest of silver can be worth, take a look at this Victorian silver desert service made in 1848. It includes 12 dessert spoons, 12 dessert forks, and 12 dessert knives. They come displayed in their original wooden chest. The set is currently being offered for sale by M. S. Rau Antiques in New Orleans. The price? $19,850.

Second, even small quantities of silverware can contain significant amounts of silver. If the set that you have is not valuable to collectors (consult a qualified appraiser to be sure), the silver alone can be worth a lot of money. Silver is currently trading at nearly $20/troy ounce on the London Fix. If you send a sample to Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners to be tested, you could be in for a very pleasant surprise. Call us at 800-426-2344 to learn more.

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Do You Own Silver-Plated or Pure Silver Items? This Online Encyclopedia Helps You Identify them Fast

Did you just inherit a pair of silver salad serving spoons from your grandmother? Or did you just acquire a large quantity of older silver or silver-plated cutlery?

Image showing sterling silver flatware and hollowware that Specialty Metals can refine and recycle profitably for your company.

No matter how few or how many silver items you own, you probably have a lot of questions on your mind. Yes, the pieces that you own are stamped with little markings on the underside of their handles. But what do they mean? How can you identify the company that made the items that you own? How can you tell whether they are pure silver or silver-plated? And most important of all, is your silver likely to be worth a lot of money or only a few dollars?

If you’re asking questions like those, you need to know about 925-1000.com’s Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks, and Maker’s Marks, available for instant research online. It’s a vast online reference to silverware patterns, markings, manufacturers, and more. Best of all, it contains thousands of images of the markings that are stamped on the silverware items that you own. It may take a little time and digging to identify just what you have. But the good news is, you are almost certain to learn more about your holdings.

Here are some of the features of this remarkable online resource for owners of silver items.

  • A library of images of marks and hallmarks and stampings from America, Great Britain, France, Italy, and many more countries.
  • A database of manufacturing dates and critical information about silverware that was produced by the world’s most important manufacturers, including Tiffany, Lunt, and more.
  • A collection of images of silverware patterns that helps you identify what you own.
  • Links to dozens of online resources and books about silver.

What Is Your Silverware and Silver-plated Tableware Worth?

The Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks, and Maker’s Marks doesn’t list values for the pieces of silver tableware that it has catalogued. That’s a job for an appraiser who specializes in silverware.

If you complete your research with an appraiser and determine that the real value of the items you own is contained in the silver that they contain, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. We’ll be happy to discuss your silverware with you and explain how we can help you realize the greatest return by letting us refine and recycle your silver and silver-plated items.

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Why Money Can Be Found in Your Used Electroplating Supplies

Does your company electroplate thin layers of one metal onto another? Or have you recently acquired quantities of used e-plating equipment or scrap from another company? In either case, you could have something of value on your hands.

Shown: Electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

Shown: Electroplating tank scrap that customers have shipped to Specialty Metals for the recycling of precious metals at the best prices.

Here are the answers to some questions about how electroplating works and where dollars could be hiding.

Why Is Electroplating Done?

Electroplating can be used to beautify metals or protect them from corrosion. Remember the “chrome cruiser cars” of the 1950s, with acres of chrome-plated trim? Similarly, jewelry and tableware can be coated with silver or gold to make them more beautiful. Electroplating is also used to make metals less likely to oxidize – that’s why “tin cans” are actually steel cans that have been electroplated with tin so that the steel will not react chemically with the can’s contents. In addition, durable metals like platinum and palladium are sometimes plated onto softer metals to make them harder or abrasion-resistant.

How Is Electroplating Done?

Let’s look at the most basic way of coating one metal onto another – in an electroplating tank. First, that tank is filled with liquid, called the electrolytic bath, which contains a solution that contains the metal like platinum that will be used as a coating. The object to be plated is immersed in the bath, and connected to the negative terminal of a source of electricity that will flow through the bath. (In other words, the object to be plated becomes the cathode.) Next another piece of metal – one that will not be plated – is connected to the positive terminal and immersed in the liquid. (It becomes the anode.)

When electricity flows through the bath, electrodes of the metal that will become the plating (i.e., silver) adhere to the object that is being plated.

That basic process can vary, depending on the nature of the metal that will form the plating, the object to be plated and other variables. Sometimes, for example, the anode can be made of the metal that will be used as a coating; electrodes from it will flow to the object to be coated. But even though there are variations, that’s basically how tank e-plating works.

Why Can Used E-plating Materials and Supplies Be Worth Money?

There are several reasons. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. Tanks, filters, mesh screens, piping and other equipment can have become coated with quantities of the gold, palladium or the other precious metals that have been used as platings.
  2. If a tank has been used to apply alloys of precious metals, the “used” cathodes can still contain quantities of precious metals that can be quite valuable.
  3. The used electrolytic fluid, and any “sludge” that accumulated on the bottom of tanks or elsewhere, can contain quantities of the precious metal that was used as a plating.

Want to Know What Your Used E-Plating Materials are Worth?

Several factors can determine how much value you have in used electroplating supplies – the kind of metal that was used as plating, for example. If you have quantities of these potentially valuable recyclables on hand, why not call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344. Tell us what you have and we’ll be pleased to help you claim the hidden dollars that could be hiding in it.

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Finding Value in Cutlery from the Golden Age of Silver Electroplating

Did you know that there was a “golden age” of silver plating that lasted from about 1880 until 1960? It was a time when production of silver-plated tableware was at an all-time high. If you own a large quantity of silver-plated knives, forks, and spoons from those years, you could have something valuable. In the early years of that “golden age” especially, manufacturers often applied thicker layers of silver plating than were common in later years.

Why the “Golden Age” of Silver Electroplating Happened

Image showing sterling silver flatware, silver-plated tableware and hollowware that Specialty Metals can refine and recycle profitably for your company.

During the second half of the nineteenth century, a new kind of upper class emerged. Its members were not royalty or landed gentry, but magnates who had amassed fortunes during the industrial revolution. As they built lavish homes for entertaining, they needed quantities of fine sterling silver tableware. A number of manufacturers started smelting silver and making vast quantities of tableware to meet the demand.

Then the twentieth century dawned and the number of middle-class Americans grew dramatically. They also wanted to entertain, and they also wanted to put out elegant-looking silver tableware for their guests. The problem was, they often couldn’t afford pure silver place settings. For these upwardly mobile people, the answer was silver-plated tableware. It looked as elegant as the “real thing,” unless guests flipped it over to squint at the fine print that indicated that it was only silver-plated. Many companies rushed in to produce silver-plated flatware, including F.B. Rogers, Lunt, Meriden Britannia, Middletown Plate, and the International Silver Company. 

It was also a time when new markets suddenly evolved for other products too. The Ford Model T offered ordinary people – not millionaires – a chance to own cars. It was before the age of television, so sales of radios and record players surged. It was the golden age of piano manufacturing in America too – a time when the piano, not the flat screen TV, often functioned as the home entertainment center.

Enter Stainless Steel

One drawback of silver-plated tableware was that it tarnished, just like the fully silver tableware that it imitated. Keeping a set of it shiny could be a labor-intensive hobby. That’s one reason why people quickly began to buy stainless steel cutlery as soon as it was introduced.

One milestone? In 1961, the tableware manufacturer Oneida improved the process of manufacturing tableware from stainless steel. Oneida began to market stainless steel tableware alongside silver-plated. Within 10 years, the company was manufacturing much more stainless tableware than silver-plated. Other makers of stainless entered the market too – companies like Liberty, Reed & Barton, Lunt, Williamsburg, as well as a number of Asian manufacturers – and the sales of silver-plated tableware decreased even more. The golden age of silver plating had come to a close.

What Is Your Silver-Plated Tableware Worth?

Pure silver tableware – not silver-plated – is worth much more than silver-plated, for several reasons. The first, of course, is that it contains more silver. But there is also the fact that some silver patterns from certain manufacturers are very much in demand by collectors. If you’re lucky enough to have pure silver tableware that is in a sought-after pattern, it could be worth far more than the value of the silver metal it contains. If you own a quantity of pure silver cutlery – or even a few pieces – it’s worth your while to contact a qualified appraiser to find out what it is worth.

The odds are lower that silver-plated items will be sought-after collectibles, but it does happen. That’s why – again – you should speak with an appraiser before deciding to scrap or recycle items that you own.

If you have a large quantity of silver-plated items – a collection of hundreds or thousands of pieces - you should contact an expert silver refinery. To learn more, call Specialty Metals Smelters and Refiners at 800-426-2344 and we can explain how you can recycle your silver-plated tableware profitably.


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