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where to buy vintage silverplate

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Rather than buy plastic silverware for my garden wedding for 150, I would like to buy used silverplate. I see lots of "craft quality" silverplate forks and spoons on ebay, but suspect that the only acceptable ones are on top in the photo. Shall I comb thrift shops? Is there a better way to assemble flatware that will be heftier than plastic and go with linen napkins? Thanks for all ideas!

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  1. Guessing you're willing to go "mix & match", cuz it could take forever to amass that much.

    A few years back I was into crafts... unfortunately something that is pretty much gone now. Decided to make wind chimes from old silver plate stuff... if you frequent thrift shops you can usually find a few pieces on any given day. Went to Ebay and won a MESSO "craft" silver plate flatware. In that load was a LOT of one pattern (Patrician from 20-30s) that was in nice shape. Tarnished, no corrosion, no significant wear. When I cleaned it up, was pleasantly surprised at the nice condition. Used silver polish till fingers pruned. Picked up a few lots of THAT pattern and now have place settings for at LEAST 12-16... dinner knives, dinner/salad forks/spoons, soup, butter spreaders and a bunch of odds and ends. Found a silver chest at a thrift shop or yard sale. I use it occasionally, makes a really nice looking table.

    It's gonna cost significantly more than plastic... they do make "silver" plastic stuff that looks decent.

    1. We actually went to a garden wedding in an old house (a business) that used old mismatched silver. The food was such that it only required forks. The cheapest way to buy sets is at auction. Fortunately or unfortunately sets of china and silver plate go cheap at least around here. Other sources might be antique malls, yard sales, thrift shops, resale shops, flea markets, week end markets. You should be able to pick up loose pieces for $1/each but if you have time you can do better at least in the south and the midwest. I have acquired almost 50 junior forks, all patterns that I use for dessert forks. It took about 5 years and was a little more per piece. I did buy some on ebay though.

      1. I suppose it's unrealistic to try to assemble silverware at this late date. I would like to know what plastic silver might be better than Costco's...

        2 Replies
        1. re: drymanhattan

          Have you looked into renting stainless flatware? That seems like the obvious solution if you want something with more heft than plastic.

          1. re: masha

            This is the route I'd go; flatware for 150 people is a lot if you're buying it yourself (then what do you do with it after the wedding, try to resell it?), but not so much for a good rental outfit or caterer.

        2. My wife just sold an old set of silverware on ebay. Your assumptions about deception are incorrect and ebay can void deceptive transactions

          1. I went to an outdoor " vintage garden party" recently and they used these: http://www.webstaurantstore.com/silve...

            I thought they looked and felt so much better than other plastic flatware.

            1. In Montreal we have some consignment shops called NOVA which helps to finance a specific charity or organization, The VON. As a result many people who close their home send what remains to these shops and often silverware is for sale. Do you have anything like this in your area, if not try estate sales.
              Personally I would rent the silverware, it might be easier than trying to cobble together for the large crowd that you are having.