Collectible silverware is one of the great joys of the antique world. There is something quite personal about it. Unlike many antique collectibles silverware is not just for show and safekeeping. Silverware is a valuable antique you can use. The simple practicality of silverware adds to the beauty of its elegant materials. There is a life to objects mean for daily use that connects the collector with the past.
One of the very best characteristics of silver is the fact that handling and polishing can actually improve its appearance. Over time pieces of silver will develop patinas that make each set distinct and absolutely beautiful.
Unfortunately, silver tarnishes quickly and can take on very unappealing shades of brown or even purple. If a set of silverware is stored in an environment where there is a lot of salt in the air this process can happen with alarming speed. Careful care of silverware is vital to keeping your silverware's value and long term beauty.
Washing your silver after every use may seem self-evident but simply tossing them into a soapy sink full of water simply will not do. Each piece should be washed one at a time with great care. Acidic foods such fruit juices and salad dressing can cause stains to appear on silver and special care should be taken when cleaning antique silverware of these types of foods.
You should clean each piece completely with hot soapy water. Rinse with hot water and dry thoroughly before moving on to the next piece. Resist the urge to set the silverware as to air dry or to be discharged all at once. Letting silverware dry on its own will leave water stains and make your polishing chores that much harder.
Everyone has seen a movie where the butler puts on white cotton gloves before polishing the master's silver. Those gloves are not an expression of prissiness or an attempt to protect the polisher's tender hands. The gloves are meant to protect the silver from the polisher. Bare hands can lead to fingernail scratches and the oils in human skin can tarnish newly polished silverware.
While there are many types of polish available and nearly all work fairly well. A novice collector should probably experiment until they find a polish they like best. There are creams, pastes, and liquids. Look for a polish that is described as a long-term polish as these are usually the best bet for antique silverware. Make sure to have a plentiful supply of clean polishing clothes, as you will want a clean spot on the cloth for each new piece.
Once the polish has been applied use a clean polishing cloth to remove excess polish and bring the shine to its zenith. Use a toothbrush or other small soft brush to clean any textured or raised surfaces on the silver. Now you must repeat the soapy water cleaning in order to remove any last passages of excess polish.
In order to store silverware for an extended period of time wrap each piece in paper. If the silver is allowed to come in contact with other silver it will increase the rate that the silver develops silver sulphide, the primary cause of tarnish. Be sure to use acid free paper, as this will best protect your silver. If you place the wrapped silver in a sealable plastic bag and add a small package of silica it will be kept dry and sparkling. Make an effort to remove as much air from the bag as possible.
Obviously the key to keeping your silverware beautiful while in long-term storage is keeping it dry and as far from salt and other environmental impurities as possible. With proper care and cleaning your investment and personal treasure will last a lifetime and far longer.
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Source by Silas Finch