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Green Door Antiques
  Rare, Interesting and Unusual Sterling, Coin Silver, and Silverplate

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Silver Care
The best way to care for your fine silver is to use it everyday, and take care of any small amount of tarnish right away. Enjoy your silver flatware and hollowware. Find a “kinder, gentler” silver polish, a bowl of warm water, a few soft cloths, and have a relaxing time restoring a bit of history to its’ shining best.

What causes sterling silver to tarnish?
Silver is tarnished by the sulfides contained in foods (turkey, broccoli, mayonnaise, eggs, for example), in the air (from gas stoves and ovens and oil furnaces), and even the moisture from your hands. Heat and cold (a sudden change either way) accelerate the process. Salt accompanied by moisture corrodes silver.

How do I safely clean my sterling silver?
The best cleaners or silver polishes are those made specifically for silver. If the contents of the can, bottle or jar will also clean the carburetor and remove rust from your car, or as they say “give a butler finish “ ( that means it has an abrasive in it ) don’t use it. READ THE LABELS before use. Use a clean soft cloth or soft sponge for cleaning. Old undershirts and worn washcloths are also good. The cloth needs to be clean, soft, grit free.

If your silver is black or tarnished, let it soak only a few minutes in warm soapy water in a ceramic or glass bowl. (NOT a stainless sink as there is an interaction that makes the tarnish much worse ) Use a gentle soap, such as Ivory liquid. Then use your fingers or a soft sponge to apply a good silver polish to the silver and rub gently until the tarnish is removed. You may use a soft baby toothbrush if needed. Rinse and then polish with a clean soft cloth – ( above ).

If the tines of your forks are black, get them wet, and poke them into a jar of good paste polish (while you polish the rest of your silver, with a liquid polish with no grit). Do not leave them in the paste longer than 4 minutes. Brush them with a soft toothbrush, then rinse and dry with a soft clean cloth while the silver is still warm. (Warm , not hot , silver is more easily cleaned.)

Some museums protect their silver by cleaning it prior to display. Each cleaning does remove some silver from an object, a good point to remember when cleaning silver plate.

What is Oxidation?

Some patterns of silver, such as Gorham’s Fountainebleau and Mythologique, are oxidized at the factory with a darkening agent to enhance the pattern. If the oxidation is removed, the definition of the pattern is lost. Even though some people like their Buttercup pattern shiny and clean, most like some oxidation in the crevices to enhance the pattern; to more clearly define the buttercups. Know your silver pattern and decide which appearance is more pleasing to you, but have it all look the same way.

How should I store my silver.
To keep your silver from tarnishing, keep the air from it and do not touch it (if possible) before you put it away. Museum curators use white cotton gloves when handling silver; try that, or hold the pieces with your drying towel as you put them in their air free case.

To store the silver, use treated cotton bags for hollowware and a tight fitting case for your flatware. If the silver is to be stored for a long time, plastic may be put around the cotton bags, but never directly on the silver. The plastic wrap such as Saran Wrap, contains sulfer that tarnishes silver. Some plastic film wraps applied directly to the silver can cause permanent damage to the silver surface.

Tips on what NOT to do.
As for putting your silver in the dishwasher, do it at your own risk! Some 20th century patterns are easily replaced if they become pitted and discolored from the dishwasher detergent. Old knives are filled with a resin; they could split and separate when the knife becomes overheated in the dishwasher.

Please do not dip- the dips remove all the oxidation and a good deal of silver as well. There is also a chance that the surface of your silver could be seriously damaged.

Recently a lady came to me with coppery looking silver. She told me that she had cleaned her silver by putting it in an aluminum pan with one of those round “disks” and heating it “gently” on the stove. It had become hot enough to oxidize the copper in the sterling, resulting in what is known as “fire scale”. The only cure is to have the silver professionally buffed to remove the fire scale if possible. The end result would still be uncertain.

Another lady, dismayed that her silver had turned black, cleaned it with a pot scrubber and cleanser. She complained, “Now it is all grey and scratched.” This is another candidate for the buffing wheel. However, do not have your silver buffed unless it is absolutely necessary. Years of patina and the sharpness and beauty of engraving will be gone.

Any questions? Drop a line to Rosemarie Schickler- [email protected]