There are genuine collectors who want their silver to pass with them into the next world. These collectors purchase antique silver items because they like to look at it. It is passion that keeps them going.
I am asked about silver as an investment by a new collector, my advice is usually to buy for enjoyment first but also appreciate the fact that the items have an intrinsic value built into them. When one gets to a level where one can afford to set aside the money to buy silver without sacrificing other things, then one can look around for art investment. It is really the same as for any other investment. You need to be able to afford to do it comfortably.
I was listening to Warren Buffet talking about what he thought was a good investment and he mentioned that his rule of thumb was so clear cut - if, when you purchase something, you have an idea that the value of the item is higher than what you are about to pay, you can consider it a good investment. I think this applies to our business as well. While it might be considered a poor reflection on the dealer who may be selling an item below the true value, one should always remember that everyone has a different perception of the value and stature of a piece.
In most cases, when I have purchased a piece that was almost above my head in importance and price, it has paid off nicely because someone else has realised the potential of the piece and stepped up for it when I offered it for sale at a later date.