Sorry, Mom: None of Us Want the Antique Silver Flatware

POSTED ON April 4, 2024
Sorry, Mom: None of Us Want the Antique Silver Flatware

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In the world of interior design and home décor, trends come and go like the passing of seasons. What was once considered essential for a well-appointed home — think china cabinets filled with delicate dinnerware, ornate silverware sets, and imposing antique furniture — is now falling out of favor, especially among millennials. This generational shift reflects not only changing tastes but also broader cultural and economic dynamics reshaping the way we live.

In other words, sorry mom and dad, but we don’t want to keep your antique silver and old china.

cash for vintage silver flatware

Whenever I’m back visiting my childhood home, old stuff inevitably becomes a topic of conversation. Not too seriously at this point, as we (hopefully) have many years before inheritance decisions become suddenly necessary. Still, it’s hard to ignore the imposing china cabinets that surround our dining room table, each filled with collections of plates from various generations, silver flatware, fine china, bowls of varying styles and sizes, and other outdated pieces that my siblings and I shudder just thinking about what we’d do with them (the hypnotic antique dolls are the source of the most violent shudders).

Like many millennials, unless I also inherit a Beauty-and-the-Beast-style mansion deep in the forest where my antique flatware can come to life every night and live out a 19th-century banquet fantasy, I’d rather just not have them.

Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials have been characterized by its embrace of minimalism, sustainability, and practicality. I’m no different. As such, traditional items like china and silverware, once heralded as family heirlooms and status symbols, are now seen as cumbersome relics of the past, ill-suited to the fast-paced, urban-centric lives led by many young adults today.

And if you think Gen Z is going to be any different, think again. Their move away from “things” to “experiences” and all things digital is even more pronounced.

cash for your silver tea set

Why don’t Millennials and Gen Z want the family silver?

While there are many reasons, from how unaffordable large homes have become to preferring to spend money on experiences instead of things, it’s clear the younger generations not only don’t want to buy fine china, they don’t even want you to give it to them.

Here are a few of the reasons silver, china, and antique furniture aren’t cherished by younger generations:

  • Cost of Real Estate – Famously, the cost of owning a home these days is astronomical compared to the past. According to this article at, even adjusting for inflation, the median home costs 3x what it did in 1970. In today’s dollars, someone making 225k/year would be able to buy the same home that someone making 75k/year could have bought in 1970 (again, already adjusted for inflation). People just can’t afford the square-footage, even if they wanted to store all that old flatware and the giant punch bowl somewhere.
  • Experiences Over Things – Millennials and younger tend to prefer experiences to things. This isn’t a new trend, but unless it’s something they’re using everyday, they just assume spend money on doing something rather than having something that collects dust. And for the same reasons, they just don’t want the stuff even if it’s free.
  • Transient Lifestyles – People these days don’t tend to buy a home and stay in it forever like older generations used to. Young people job hop frequently – multiple times that of older generations. They get married later in life and have children later in life too. They move more frequently. All these things lead to less stability, and the only thing worse than moving your stuff around every few years is moving your stuff around plus 5 boxes of silver bowls and spoons you never use.
  • Digital Hoarders – Native to digital culture, millennials hoard digital things, not physical things. Old photo album? No thanks. Digitize it and put it into a folder.
  • Minimalism – Many millennials embrace minimalistic lifestyles, preferring clean and clutter-free spaces. This trend extends to their home décor choices, where they opt for simple, functional designs over ornate or extravagant styles.
  • Sustainability – Millennials are increasingly environmentally conscious and seek out eco-friendly products and practices. They are willing to pay more for products that are sustainably sourced, ethically produced, and environmentally friendly. That generally rules out the desire to have old, bulky flatware produced overseas they don’t use.
  • City Living – It isn’t just that they can’t afford as much space: they don’t want it either. Younger generations show a preference for city living, which comes with less space and reflects their more minimal lives.

The lack of love for inheriting these kinds of items isn’t because they just despise silver bowls. The issue is that these goods and what they represent are simply incongruous with the lives that they lead.

My siblings and I, when told to look at an old plate are quick to recognize it as “neat” or “interesting”, but those aren’t attributes that stir us to actually want the stuff. It’s not a lack of appreciation for craftsmanship or heritage, it’s just a change in preferences.

silver flatware set

Reshaping the idea of inheritance

The digital age has reshaped the way millennials view ownership and inheritance.

Unlike previous generations who cherished family heirlooms as symbols of heritage and continuity, millennials are more transient and digitally connected. They are less attached to physical objects and more focused on creating meaningful experiences and memories. As a result, the sentimental value once attributed to china, silverware, and other big antiques has diminished, leading millennials to prioritize practicality and functionality over tradition and nostalgia.

We’ve come to value the volumes of digital photos stored in the cloud from the vacations we’ve taken with loved ones much more than any sentimentality sewn into a 200-year-old rug we can’t use by someone we’ve heard about but don’t feel that connected to.

Don’t take that to mean that millennials don’t want to inherit anything. Just don’t be surprised if the demand for the old family heirlooms is a little cooler than you expected or your gifts aren’t met with exuberant appreciation. Have an honest discussion about the people you may want to leave things for, gauge their interest in different items, and plan accordingly.

If you’re looking to downsize your home, you may be able to unload more bulky items than you think without feeling guilty about getting rid of something a loved one might want in the future.

What should you do with your antique silver flatware?

The good news is, whether you’re just downsizing your home or you’ve inherited some silver you don’t want, it’s pretty easily to sell. Vintage silver is made of 99% (sterling) silver, so with the rise in silver prices over the past 100 years, the value of old silver items can add up quickly.

We buy a lot of silver flatware, so if you’re looking to sell it’s definitely something we can help you with!

Unless your antique silver is highly collectible, such as being produced by a famous brand or is especially rare (and in fantastic condition), silver flatware is priced as “scrap” silver. If you’d like to have an understanding of how your items might be valued, take a look at our blog about how to value your scrap silver.

Why not sell all that old silver and put the money towards a once-in-a-lifetime vacation instead? Those children of yours (with no taste) will just sell it anyway!

Or if you’re one of those children and have already inherited the silver, don’t worry, you’re not going to miss it if you sell it. “I wish I hadn’t sold that old silverware” never makes the list of frequent deathbed confessions.

Requesting a free mailer

You can request a free mailer pack here. However, when selling silver flatware, you will very likely have more items than will fit in our standard gold mailer.

Instead of using our free gold (and silver) mailer, you can instead print out the label that is generated by our system and use to to ship your package for free, and fully insured. Just print out the label and place it on your own package, or one you pick up for free at your local FedEx office, package it safely, and ship it to our processing facility.

Your package is sent to us via FedEx Express, we process packages the same day to make you an offer, and then pay you within 24 hours of approval!