Caring for Antique Silver
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Silver is a soft, malleable metalthat was and is still used to make many decorative objects such as flatware, candlesticks, vases, and tea and coffee services. Most modern silver made today is coated with an anti-tarnish compound to keep the silver color intact and prevent it from discoloring.
Antique silver develops a rich patina or sheen over time, which can become discolored or tarnished when exposed to the air or from contact with certain foods. This is caused by sulfur compounds in the ambient air. If the tarnish is not removed periodically it will completely discolor the original silver color of the object, turning it dark gray to black. This is true for all silver whether it's coin silver, Sheffield, silver plate, nickel silver, or sterling silver.
To prevent silver from tarnishing, it should be used every day and avoid prolonged contact with foods like eggs, onions, vinegar, broccoli, olives, fruit, tomatoes, and salt. These foods contain sulfur compounds that can corrode silver.
Washing Antique Silver
Silver is a relatively soft metal and scratches easily. For this reason you should never use abrasive cleaners, stainless steel, or a toothbrush to clean silver. Wash your silver by hand with a solution of mild liquid detergent and warm water and dry it thoroughly to prevent water spots from forming. Water also hastens the tarnishing process. Avoid washing your antique flatware and other pieces in the dishwasher as well. antique silver.
Polishing Antique Silver
Experts advise that silver should be cleaned and polished several times a year using a cream paste formulated specifically for silver. Use a sponge or soft cloth and apply per the directions. Wash with mild liquid soap and water and then rinse and dry the silver. Use a clean soft cloth to buff the silver to a shine. Avoid using a silver dip to remove tarnish because it may remove the patina causing long-term damage to silver, especially if it's used on a regular basis.
Storing Antique Silver
Store your silver in a small wood chest to minimize the amount of air it comes into contact with, which helps delay the tarnishing process. Many silver chests have individual compartments for each piece (for example, those designed for silverware) and scratching can be avoided. If the silver chest doesn't have individualized compartments, then roll the silver in a soft cotton cloth. You can buy anti-tarnish cotton flannel cloth at fabric stores. Under no circumstances should antique silver be stored in a cardboard box or wrapped in newspaper or plastic, all of which can react chemically with the silver and damage it.
Taking care of your antique silver properly will ensure that it will be in great condition for subsequent generations to enjoy!
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