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Articles for Reprint
Updated 3.27.2015

 

Looking for an interesting article for your magazine, newsletter,
or Web site? The articles below should be of interest to your readers.

© Copyright Notice

All pages throughout this site are the copyright of Jeffrey Herman. Text and images contained on the Jeffrey Herman site may not be published separately, in hard copy, or electronically, without the expressed written permission of Jeffrey Herman.



 

Article Credit / Introduction / Images
Finding a Silver Restoration Specialist
New Finding in Tarnish Removal
Silver & Dishwashers
Removing Coffee & Tea Stains
Removing Wax From Candle Holders
Why Lacquering Silver is a Bad Idea
Removing Labels
The Removal of Engraving
Educating the Guardians of our History
Candlestick / Candelabra Thread Repair
Disposal Damaged Flatware
Types of Weighted Sterling

The Realities of Weighted Sterling
Handling Weighted Sterling
Slicing on Silver
Preventing Rust on Carbon Steel Blades
White Spots on Plated Objects
Packing Silver for Shipping
Don't Trust All Silver Polishing Videos!
Dangerous & Destructive Chemical Dips
How to Identify a Solid Silver Object
Loose and Deteriorated Components
Are You Afraid of Collecting Silver?
Silver: An Element of Good Health
Q and As can be found here


Article Credit / Introduction / Images

Credit (required when publishing all articles below)

Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com

Introduction (not required)

Jeffrey Herman started Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation in 1984, and has built a national reputation of quality craftsmanship and sensitivity towards the finishing of every piece. Herman has repaired & reconstructed everything from historically important tankards, tea services, and tureens to disposal-damaged flatware. And yes, he will also polish a single spoon or fork. He considers himself an environmentalist, using the safest, non-toxic, most organic products whenever possible.

Before starting his business, Herman worked at Gorham as a designer, sample maker, and technical illustrator. Upon leaving Gorham, he took a position at Pilz Ltd. where he learned the fine art of restoration. Herman earned a BFA degree in silversmithing and jewelry making from Maine College of Art in Portland, and is the founder of the Society of American Silversmiths.

He encourages anyone with silver-related questions that can't be answered on his Web site (hermansilver.com) to contact him. If you have a piece in need of service, Herman invites you to e-mail an image of the object for an estimate.

Jeffrey Herman
Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation
PO Box 786
West Warwick, RI 02893
800/339-0417, 401/461-6840
Fax: 401/461-6841
E-mail: jeff@hermansilver.com
Web: http://www.hermansilver.com

Images

If you would like an image to accompany an article, you can find them here.


Finding a Silver Restoration Specialist
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by Antique Homes Magazine, 2010
• Used by the International Institute of Modern Butlers, 2009

You’re cleaning a Revere porringer and it escapes your grasp, bouncing off the tile floor causing a major dent. You stand there in horror, afraid to even touch the piece. You have two choices: place it back in the china cabinet with the undamaged side facing out, hoping your employer won’t notice, or take the ethical high-road and tell the porringer’s owner that you’ll have it professionally restored. Hopefully you choose option two. So, where do you go? My advice is to contact a decorative arts curator at a museum housing a major silver collection, such as the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, or the Victoria & Albert Museum in England, to name a few. These museum curators are knowledgeable as to who will perform a proper restoration job because of their intimacy with the medium. Another excellent source is to consult a notable high-end antique silver dealer.


New Finding in Tarnish Removal
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by the International Institute of Modern Butlers, 2012
• Used by Antique Homes Magazine, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

Wash your silver objects periodically, and you might avoid the dreaded polishing session to remove accumulated tarnish. Wash with warm water and a phosphate-free detergent such as Dawn (not lemon-scented), and dry immediately. Do not immerse any object that has hollow sections or wooden parts such as handles.

If tarnish does start to build up, remove it as soon as possible. The reason for this is twofold: (1) you will be happier, as tarnish is much easier to remove in its very early stages of formation; and (2) your silver will show less wear, as it will be exposed to less abrasion than if you wait for more tarnish to form.

Most of us are familiar with that light brown – and eventually black – color that forms on silver. But you can catch tarnish in its very early stages if you hold an object against a piece of white paper (glossy paper if you have it). If tarnish has started to form, you will see a very light yellowish tint in the silver.

Try removing this light tarnish with either Windex Multi-Surface Vinegar or Purell Original Formula hand sanitizer. Use a cotton towel or cotton ball and rotate the material regularly to expose unused surfaces – elements in the tarnish itself can be very abrasive.

If tarnish remains after using the above products, a silver polish will be required.


Silver & Dishwashers
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010
• Used by Antique Homes Magazine, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques and Collectables, 2010

KEEP SILVER OUT OF THE DISHWASHER! It's that simple. There are four major reasons for keeping your prized sterling and silverplate out of the "chamber of doom:" (1) Any factory-applied oxidation (the black patina in recessed areas) will eventually be removed. (2) The harsh detergent, combined with the washer's high cleaning temperature, is much too abrasive for silver—it will eventually turn it grey or white, with a dull, non-reflective surface. (3) Most older and some repaired hollow-handled knives are filled with pitch. This low-melting cement will expand with heat, possibly forcing open a thin solder seam, or exploding the knife blade out of the handle. (4) Silver that touches stainless in the dishwasher can create a chemical reaction, producing black spots or pitting on the stainless and possibly requiring the silver to be professionally refinished.

Sterling, like a fine automobile, must be handled with tender loving care. You certainly wouldn't drive your Rolls Royce through a car wash, would you?


Removing Coffee & Tea Stains
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by Antique Homes Magazine, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

If you can manually clean the inside of a coffeepot or teapot, use a cellulose sponge (if the pot opening is big enough) or make a swab by wrapping a sponge on the end of a wooden dowel. Moisten the sponge and apply a liberal amount of Wright’s Silver Cream, then wipe away the stain and rinse the pot thoroughly with warm water. Wright’s is an excellent cleaner for this task because it’s much less abrasive than commercial cleaners that are not meant specifically for silver. Don’t use powdered abrasive cleaners, as they will  impart fine scratches which will attract more dirt. Don’t use steel wool (too abrasive and rust may result on the bottom), Scotch-Brite or scouring pads (too abrasive), or dips (too toxic). A cotton swab with a small amount of Wright’s will remove stains within the spout opening.  Rinse well with warm water.

If you can’t adequately clean the interior manually, fill the pot with warm water and drop in a five-minute denture cleaning tablet (about five cents each) per two cups of water. Let stand for ten minutes, empty, then rinse with warm water. You may find that the effervescing action of the tablets may just break the contact between the stain and the silver and not lift the residue. If this occurs, use a wet brush to remove the loosened residue and rinse with warm water.


Removing Wax From Candle Holders
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Antique Trader,, 2011
• Used by Antique Homes Magazine, 2010
• Used by The International Association for Private Service Professionals, 2009

Do you become frustrated when trying to remove wax from your weighted candle holders? Do you go pawing into your flatware drawer to find just the right size knife to dig out the wax? Do you run the piece under warm water, only to create a big mess? Well, here are some simple, non-invasive techniques.

Non-weighted candle holders can be put in your freezer. Upon removing them, use your fingernail (not a knife) to delicately chip off the wax. If residue remains, remove it with silver polish or 91% isopropyl alcohol on a cotton ball. (Isopropyl alcohol should always be used in a well ventilated area.)

The following procedure can be used for both weighted and non-weighted candle holders. Use your hair dryer (but not a heat gun) to warm the candle cup or other area coated with wax. Be careful not to get the object too hot. There are three reasons for this warning: (1) If the weighting material is pitch, it will melt. (2) If the piece is lacquered, the lacquer will bubble off or burn (or both). (3) You could burn yourself! Lightly touch the area with your fingertip to make sure it is not too hot; then lightly wipe off the wax with a soft paper towel or cotton ball. When cleaning out a candle cup on a candelabrum, support the cup with your hand to prevent bending the arm. If the opening is too small for your finger, gently stuff the paper towel into the cup and twist. Cotton swabs also work very well, especially on Hanukkah lamps with very small candle cups. Use as much fresh paper towel or as many cotton swabs as needed; otherwise, you will continually reapply the wax you are removing.

Use dripless candles whenever possible and remove any wax residue from candle holders after each use. Using these techniques will greatly reduce maintenance time.


Why Lacquering Silver is a Bad Idea
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010
• The Journal of Antiques and Collectables, 2010
• Used by the International Institute of Modern Butlers, 2009

Lacquering silver and silverplate is generally not recommended for a number of reasons: 1. The individual may not properly prepare the object's surface to accept the lacquer. 2. It's very difficult to obtain a uniform coating, even when applied by a professional. 3. If the coating is not applied well, it may have streaks and small holes, allowing tarnish to form. 4. Lacquer will eventually yellow and crack, allowing tarnish to form within the fissures and eventually under the protective coating. Strong solvents must then be used to remove the lacquer and the piece refinished.

Because of the above issues, Renaissance wax – an archival micro-crystalline product – is recommended. Renaissance will not yellow or crack and will last for years if handled properly. Renaissance wax is not as durable as lacquer, so the object should be handled with heavyweight natural cotton jersey inspection gloves as acid from fingers may eventually remove it. Since dust can be acidic and eventually wear through the wax, placing your silver in a closed display will help insure that particulate will not fall on the object's surface. Whether inside or outside a display case, every few months gently wipe the object with a Selvyt cloth or soft cotton cloth. This will keep the wax or silver polish with tarnish protectant from breaking down prematurely.

Renaissance wax should not be used on flatware or other objects that will be used to eat from. When applying Renaissance, do so in small areas at a time (no larger than a 3" square). Buff with a soft cotton cloth, cotton ball, or makeup pad immediately. Overlap each area to insure the entire surface gets coated.

Accompaning images on this subject can be seen here. Higher resolution images can also be provided.


Removing Labels (updated 7/7/2016)
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010
• Used by Antique Homes Magazine, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

If you just purchased a silver object with a price label that won't peel off, don't reach for a scrubby pad or steel wool. Instead, try using a hair dryer (a heat gun is too hot) to gently warm the label. (Do not use a hair dryer on lacquered pieces.) The label should now peel off cleanly. If the label leaves a sticky residue, wait for the piece to cool and try removing it with some hand sanitizer, canola oil, or olive oil on a cotton ball or makeup pad. If that fails, place a cotton ball or makeup pad saturated with oil on the residue and let it sit for one hour (don't worry, the oils won't harm your silver). If it didn't work, try this method again until the adhesive has dissolved and wipe away with a cotton ball or makeup pad. Use Better Life Natural Glass Cleaner (which has a neutral pH) to remove any signs of the oil. If a discolored spot remains where the adhesive had been, remove it with Blitz Silver Shine Polish.

Note: Products like Acetone, Goo Gone, Krud Cutter, Goof Off, and WD-40 will remove the residue more quickly, but are less environmentally-friendly.


The Removal of Engraving
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

A hand engraved monogram or any type of decorative engraving is part an object's history and unique to that piece. Removing engraving does not always make a piece more salable, especially if the engraving is of high quality--quality seldom seen today with the declining number of outstanding engravers.

Some tips for collectors and antique dealers debating whether or not to have engraving removed: (1.) If it is a tray or hollow piece, rub your fingernail under or inside to determine if the metal is thick enough to have the engraving removed. If you see a slight wave develop as you move your fingernail, the piece is probably too thin. Remember, if the engraving is removed you run the risk of caving in that area with very little pressure.  Can you imaging setting a coffee pot on a footed salver and having it sink into the center? (2.) If you have never used a repair service, test the reliability of the silversmith with a small piece of damaged flatware first. A competent smith will do a great job or suggest that the repair not be attempted at all. (3.) If engraving is removed from a hollow form or tray and you would like it re-engraved, have it done in a different area where the material is thicker. An engraved area, especially on a thin piece, will be rather weak.

If you must have engraving removed, take the piece to a competent smith, otherwise it may be ruined and the piece devalued. Engraving that has been expertly removed will be undetectable on the surface. Upon removal of deep engraving, on a coffee pot for example, the metal may have to be pushed out from the inside to develop a level surface.


Educating the Guardians of our History
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The International Guild of Professional Butlers, 2010

I find it's time to discuss a very troubling trend I've witnessed in silver displayed in museums: over cleaning. Years ago, I visited a prominent northeastern museum housing a large and impressive silver collection. Major presentation and historically important American and European silver were on exhibit. I was on a museum tour at the time, explaining to the other silver aficionados in the group how some of the pieces were created. I became alarmed at what I had been viewing: silver objects stripped of every last bit of patina!  I soon asked the docent why the silver had been stripped, leaving it so white, so one-dimensional. She replied: "The museum wanted to display the silver the way it looked upon completion by the silversmith." I pointed out the obvious purple-colored firestain that mottled many of the objects, and that it would not have left the silversmith's workshop in that condition. That the smith would have "fired" their piece, then given it an acid bath to dissolve the copper from the surface of the sterling, leaving a fine silver finish. Over decades of polishing, the oxidized copper (or firestain) may be revealed.  Silversmiths, especially those practicing up through the 19th century and into the 20th, probably would have patinated an ornamental piece, giving it a more three-dimensional look. "That's just the museum's policy," the docent said. I had the immediately urge to confront the museum director and curator of decorative arts, but that wasn't the time.

Modern "taste," fickle at best, has no place in museum conservation. And, I am not alone in thinking that museums over clean their silver. Recently, a spoon collectors club visited my workshop. Below is an excerpt from an e-mail I received from one of the collectors after the visit: "I am always distressed to see museum silver with all the patina carefully removed. New sterling is now even being sold looking as though it just had a bath in Tarn-X." 

Much time had passed from that eye-opening day at the museum visit to receiving that letter. It is a reminder of my responsibility to silversmiths long passed, to collectors unknowing of possible impending alterations to their bequests, and to museum decision makers entrusted with preserving our history. Museums are considered the authority of how our objects maintained. If ground-breaking or ill-conceived ideas are made without consulting others in the field (and that includes silversmiths themselves), irreversible mistakes will continue to be made without the public's knowledge. And if we consider a museum's policy to be the last word, we will then accept those poor conservation techniques as our own.


Leveling a Hinged Lid
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com

Teapots, coffeepots, boxes, ink wells, and anything with a hinged top, may become unsettled in the way they sit due to rough treatment. Perhaps you have a piece with a springy top that simply won't sit level. You may be able to rectify this problem yourself. Cut to length and place a flat toothpick between the entire length of the two hinge plates and push, ever so gently, on the sides of the lid with your fingers. Take notice of any movement on the back side of the lid where the hinge palate is attached. If the lid still doesn't sit level, repeat the process by stacking additional toothpicks between the hinge plates.


Candlestick / Candelabra Thread Repair
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

Over the years, weighted candlestick and candelabra threaded inserts can become worn, allowing them to continue rotating in the corresponding sockets without properly “catching.” Redefining these threads properly can be quite costly, since the pitch that is used as a reinforcing cement must be removed before pushing out the threads from inside with special tools.

In most cases, you can repair the insert threads yourself, allowing them to fully engage the corresponding socket threads. Go to your local hardware store or furnace and duct supplier and ask for aluminum tape. This is aluminum foil with an extremely sticky backing. Take the section with the worn threads and cut a piece of aluminum tape the same width as the threaded section. Remove the backing and wrap the aluminum around the threaded insert and cut it as close as possible to meet with the other edge. It’s better to be a little undersize than have to overlap the seam.. Next, use finger pressure to massage the foil securely onto the insert. Finish the job by using your fingernail to trace the threads around the circumference of the insert, making them more distinct.

Gently screw the insert into the socket, testing how it “sits” without wobbling. If there is still substantial play in the socket, allowing the insert to continue spinning, wrap it with another layer of tape as described above.


Disposal Damaged Flatware
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

Has a piece of your flatware ever slipped down the garbage disposal? If so, you may have gone into shock in regard to its mangling. The spoon bowl may have been crushed, fork tines wrapped around each other, the handle folded in half or even chopped into many pieces. A monogram may also have been gouged. That piece of flatware, with the possible exception of hollow handled knives, need not be taken to the refiner; it most likely can be repaired to a functional state!

In order to correct the shape and finish of the piece during its repair, it is recommended to send a perfect duplicate piece for matching. Flatware that is highly ornamental, especially on the handles, may not be economical to restore. In this case you may wish to simply have any sharp or jagged edges smoothed to make the piece useful once again.

If you feel the piece doesn't warrant the repair expense, it can most likely be replaced through a silver replacement service. Since many patterns over time have been produced in different weights, it is best send a sample to the service to be matched.


Types of Weighted Sterling
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com

Weighted sterling is made in two forms: structurally-weighted (for structural stability throughout) and stability-weighted (so they won't tip over). There are also objects that don't require structural or stability weighting, but may be used in other ways, as in a removable leather-covered lead bottom of a cigarette box.

Structurally-weighted objects have been made since the late 19th century. They are generally marked "Weighted," indicating they have pitch or plaster throughout hollow areas. This may include steel-reinforced candelabra arms that would sag if not supported. The rolled rims may be the only exception with any reinforcement. Weighted creamers and sugars, for example, would be easily dented if not filled. Candlesticks weighing one pound may weigh less than one-tenth their weight in actual sterling content when empty. Structurally-weighted objects, sometimes made with sterling as thin as .003" (thinner than 20-pound copy paper), has been used to save on the cost of the precious metal.

Stability-weighted objects are normally taller or broader pieces that require weighted bases so they won't tip over. They are generally more valuable since they are made of thick enough sterling to support themselves without any filler. The bases can be filled with pitch, plaster, or lead, and have been produced for centuries.


The Realities of Weighted Sterling
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

The article below discusses weighted sterling that is reinforced throughout the entire object. These are pieces that would not be functional if the silver alone was their only support.

You just forced a candle into one of the candle cups of a weighted, two-arm candelabra. What you didn't expect to experience was the arm being ripped from its stem. Have you ever polished a candlestick and wondered what that rattling noise was? I know all too well what that sound is: its cement (most commonly pitch, which is made from various percentages of pine resin and plaster) had reduced in volume when it was first poured, then cooled inside the object, creating a void. This allowed pieces of this brittle material to break off and rattle inside that space. Weighted sterling may also contain, lead, wax, sand, or some other material for support. Since the sterling is very thin (I've measured metal thickness as thin as .003"), there is then not enough support for that area of your object to withstand a dent when lightly tapped against a hard surface. You'll also find pitch inside most dresser brushes and hand mirrors that probably show signs of denting from even the most cautious user. You may have seen a dresser brush with very deep embossing, revealing a cherub with a hole in its nose. At that very point, the material may have been only .002" thick when it came out of the factory. Sliding the brush over a dressing table a few times and heavy-handed polishing may have been all it took to go through that nose. If these pieces were not weighted, they would almost collapse! If you are the victim of one of these pieces, I know your frustration.

What you may not be aware of is that although your candelabra may weigh a hefty four pounds (64 ounces), in reality it contains only about 6.4 ounces (5.83 troy ounces) of sterling! Simplified, this means your candelabra is composed of 10% sterling and 90% pitch. So, if you wanted to scrap that candelabra using a $10 silver market, the refiner would pay you no more than $48. Something else to keep in mind: many refiners will also charge a refining fee of $50 or more. You just lost two dollars! Stunned? You're not alone.

Welcome to the sad reality of weighted sterling. When the silver companies first introduced objects that were made of this paper-thin sterling, they intended on making utilitarian holloware and dresserware that was more affordable to the mass-market. Though you may have thought you were purchasing a quality piece of silver, it later turned out to be nothing but aggravation in its use and cleaning.


Handling Weighted Sterling
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

1. Do not display in a window where the sun will soften the pitch, possibly making the object or appendage droop.
2. Keep away from fireplaces and ovens.
3. Of course you would never put a weighted piece (or ANY sterling) in the dishwasher.
4. Always support a candelabra arm underneath when inserting a candle.
5. Never overtighten threaded candelabra arms or candlestick components.
6. Gently polish and support the piece when working on delicate areas.
7. Use only tepid water when rinsing polish from the object.
8. Never expose dresser brushes, hand mirrors, or related objects to liquids.
9. Do not soak weighted pieces as there may be voids in hollow areas that will fill with liquid.
10. Dresser brushes, hand mirrors, and related objects should always be gently placed on a cotton or flannel cloth on your dressing table to avoid unnecessary wear.
11. If you hear rattling, be particularly cautious in that area because it is not reinforced inside.


Slicing on Silver
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

I'm sure you would agree that sliced roast beef looks elegant when presented on a silver tray. What you may not realize is that under that beautiful presentation may lie true ugliness, unknowingly created by you. Those deep slicing lines (and possibly linear dents) will absolutely decrease the tray's value. Never cut meat or anything else on a sterling or silver-plated tray. Always cut food on a cutting board, then place it on the silver. On silver-plated trays, this is especially important, since you will be cutting through the silver plating and into the base metal, requiring the piece to be refinished and replated. Never let food sit on a tray longer than necessary as salty juices may, over time, increase the possibility of surface corrosion and pitting.


Preventing Rust on Carbon Steel Blades
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

Flatware containing unplated carbon steel knife blades require protection, or rust will develop. After dinner, hand wash the knives in warm water, then dry immediately. Apply a very thin layer of Burt's Bees Lip Balm on the blade and wipe with a paper towel until there is no residue left behind. This will keep the blades from rusting. Since this product is non-toxic, you won't have to wash them prior to use. If these knives become to taxing to care for, new stainless steel replacement blades are available.


White Spots on Plated Objects
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com

This phenomenon usually occurs on a freshly plated piece with moisture migrating to the surface. Even if the piece was properly dried after plating, some spots may still appear over a short period of time. This is especially true if the base metal is a lead alloy or pewter that was not nickel plated before being plated with fine silver. The nickel would normally keep any moisture from migrating to the surface. Polishing usually makes these spots disappear, but often only on a temporary basis. To achieve a more permanent fix, after polishing, heat the piece with a hair dryer (do not do this if your piece is weighted) until it is warm to the touch. You may have to repeat this procedure a few times until the white spots no longer appear.


Packing Silver for Shipping
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by Antique Homes Magazine, 2010
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010
• Used by the International Institute of Modern Butlers, 2009

The following instructions are tried and true techniques when shipping silver. Firstly, wear cotton or nitrile gloves, as finger prints will etch silver. Objects, such as sectional candelabras, should be disassembled and wrapped individually. Use non-buffered tissue which has a neutral ph and won't promote tarnish. For delicate pieces, such as handled baskets and epergnes, crumple the tissue and place it in all open areas so all components will be supported. Next comes the bubble wrap which will further cushion the object. Use as little tape as possible when securing the bubble wrap. Wrapping the entire bubble-wrapped object with packing tape makes it almost impossible to remove the piece without using a knife, which could damage the silver. A preferred technique is to take the wrapped object and place it in a plastic bag with a 3M or Intercept Anti-Tarnish Strip. These strips absorb tarnish-producing gasses and are especially important if the piece is going to be stored for an extended period. Pack the object in a structurally sound 200 lb. test carton. Each piece should have a minimum of 2" (preferably more) of padding between it and other piece(s) or the sides of the carton. The carton should be filled with Styrofoam peanuts, bubble wrap, or densely crumpled paper to snugly cushion the item(s). There should be NO inside movement after the carton has been taped.

When shipping flatware in a fitted chest, wrap the pieces in tissue paper so that they don't scratch each other during transport. Take two sheets of tissue paper and place a piece of flatware on the end closest to you. Roll the piece in the tissue paper until it is fully covered, and then place the next piece against the first and roll again until the second piece is covered. Continue in this fashion until you have reached the end of the tissue paper, and then continue with additional paper until all the flatware is wrapped. If you have any carving knives or forks, use some additional tissue paper to wrap their sharp tips. After placing the flatware back in the chest, fill any voids with additional paper to prevent movement of the pieces during shipping. If there are some pieces that won't fit without straining the hinges of the chest, wrap them with additional padding and place them in a polyethylene bag (such as a Ziploc).  If you will be storing the chest and its contents for more than two weeks, use acid-free tissue paper and place half a sheet of a 3M or Intercept Anti-Tarnish Strip in each bag. This should keep your flatware tarnish-free for over a year.Always remove flatware from a flatware chest and wrap the pieces, otherwise, any bouncing in transit could lead to scratching.


Don't Trust All Silver Polishing Videos!
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010
• Used by the International Institute of Modern Butlers, 2009

I have viewed numerous online videos demonstrating harmful silver polishing techniques. Do not trust everything you see online regarding silver care! Some of these videos, produced by well-intentioned but ill-informed individuals, show the use of horribly abrasive products such as Nevr-Dull, toothpaste, or baking soda. Some advocate the use of the toxic product Tarn-X which, although not abrasive, will remove factory-applied patinas, and will actually promote the formation of tarnish. The aluminum foil technique (in which the user is encouraged to soak silver in water containing baking soda and a piece of aluminum foil) will also allow tarnish to form more quickly. Also, many videos say that it's okay to put silver in your dishwasher–that's not true!

Please take time to read my Silver Care Guide: http://hermansilver.com/care.htm.


Dangerous & Destructive Chemical Dips
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com

As a silver restoration and conservation specialist, I have many years of knowledge about chemical dips. I routinely receive objects for refinishing due to damage from these horribly destructive products.

Chemical dips work by dissolving the tarnish (and silver!) on an object at an accelerated rate. Dips are used by silver restorers when heavy black tarnish cannot be removed with liquid or paste polishes. Chemical dips are wiped over the object with a cellulose sponge or cotton ball, as submerging the piece for long periods will remove factory-applied patinas and cause pitting of the object's surface. These surface defects will act like a sponge and more readily absorb tarnish-producing gases and moisture. The object may then require professional polishing to restore the original finish.

Chemical dips are made up of an acid and a complexing agent. Acids are corrosive and will damage niello, bronze, stainless steel knife blades, and organic materials such as wood and ivory. The ingredients can also be harmful to the user, which is why silver restorers wear nitrile gloves and work in a well ventilated area. Chemical dips should never be used on objects that have sealed components, such as candlesticks and trophies with hollow feet, or teapots with hollow handles. Once the dip leaks into the cavity through small holes or imperfections in the joints, it becomes virtually impossible to wash the chemical out. If you're working on a baby cup with this type of rim, do you really want an infant drinking from it?


How to Identify a Solid Silver Object
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

Normally, if an object is solid silver it will be indicated on the piece. Examples are: Sterling, 925, 925/1000, 900, Coin, Standard, 9584 (English Britannia), 800 (Germany), 84 (Russia), etc.). Most American-made objects are marked on the bottoms of holloware and on the reverse on flatware. Foreign-made objects can be marked most anywhere, and are sometimes accompanied by additional marks applied in the country's assay office which tests the quality of the precious metal during its manufacture. Rarely will you find a piece made of solid silver that isn't stamped. If an object isn't stamped, a non-invasive identification method is judging by tarnish color. Silverplate will exhibit a blue-purple hue, where solid silver will exhibit grey-black. If you cannot determine if an object is solid silver, consult a silversmith or jeweler who may use an acid test.


Silver With Loose and Deteriorated Components
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by the International Association for Private Service Professionals, 2010
• Used by The Antique Trader, 2010

Over time, insulators, handles, finials, inserts, and other porous components of tea- and coffeepots, sauce pans, wine bottle coasters, hairbrushes, and the like can become loose and/or cracked. This may be the result of natural shrinkage, aggressive handling, or running water over the component and allowing moisture to enter the socket or ferule that holds it in place, causing rot that can't be seen. These susceptible materials include: wood, ivory, baleen, rhino horn, mother-of-pearl, and tortoise shell, among others.

Unstable objects that are used on a daily basis will only become more unstable over time. This can lead to crumbling insulators, a broken-off handle, or a warped coaster bottom, with additional damage occurring to the object's body. Here are some suggestions:

1. Always support a teapot or coffeepot from the bottom when holding it by the handle.

2. If a handle or brush is loose, have it secured by a reputable silver restoration specialist. Have broken or rotted components stabilized or replaced;

3. Never allow water to come into contact with porous components;

4. Remove dried polish with a cotton ball, Q-Tip, or soft brush;

5. With a lint-free cloth, apply three coats of a high-quality, crystal-clear carnauba paste wax which will protect against moisture and deterioration. This wax will also prevent silver polish from accumulating in wood pores;

6. It is safe to clean or polish an object if: (a) components are securely held in place and there are no gaps through which moisture can seep into hollow areas and (b) wax has been applied to the components. (Hairbrushes, nail buffers, and combs should be cleaned only with non-abrasive, unscented, aloe-free hand sanitizer, or with silver polish that is allowed to dry, and is then buffed off);

7. Periodically re-wax porous components;

8. Consult a silver restoration specialist with any questions.


Are You Afraid of Collecting Silver?
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by the International Institute of Modern Butlers, 2011

Are you a silver lover? Do you own sterling flatware, a tea set, or a simple flower vase? If you do, you know the inherent beauty of the material and its functionality. Yet, if silver isn't gracing your table, what reservations do you have about collecting it? Perhaps you've heard that once you buy silver, you'll be polishing it three times a day. Don't let this misconception dissuade you from owning what you would truly like to collect.

In fact, you'll spend more time cleaning, oiling, and waxing your furniture than you ever will maintaining your silver!

Silver ages gracefully if properly maintained. If you use your flatware for everyday dining, polishing need not be a concern, as long as it's washed afterwards. If your flatware is used only occasionally, polishing with 3M's Tarni-Shield, and storing the pieces in a flannel flatware roll or lined chest with a 3M Anti-Tarnish strip, will give added protection.

It doesn't sound like you'll be scrubbing your fingers to the bone, does it? Do you enjoy entertaining? Have you shopped for an accent piece for your dining room table, all the while suspecting that the silver vase or candelabra you really wanted would probably take hours to polish? This is yet another misconception. If the piece is already in good condition, applying non-toxic, pleasant-smelling Tarni-Shield will keep it virtually tarnish-free for months, if not years, depending on how frequently it's handled. Renaissance wax can be applied for longer-lasting protection.


Silver: An Element of Good Health
Copyright Jeffrey Herman, hermansilver.com
• Used by The International Association for Private Service Professionals, 2010
• Used by The Journal of Antiques & Collectibles, 2010

If you’re a silver lover, here’s something else you’ll appreciate about this lustrous metal: it can kill or suppress the growth of microorganisms such as bacteria, mold, and fungus. Silver ions have a toxic effect on these organisms without harm to humans. Its germicidal properties have been well documented through its use in wound dressings to stop infection and promote healing. These properties have the same effect in silver objects. Stainless steel doesn’t offer these benefits nor does it retain its value. Why not buy something that has been staving off illnesses naturally for centuries? Consider drinking from a silver goblet or eating from flatware an elegant way to stay healthier. And when it's time to pass down your silver to the next generation, you can extol silver's health benefits as well.


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