Tips and Tricks To Eliminate Smudge from Silver

Vinegar

Vinegar

Are you tired of seeing smudges all over your antique silver flatware? If so, you probably spend a lot of time with a polishing cloth trying to get those smudges out. But what if there was a better way? There are a number of different old tips and tricks that you can use to get those smudges out of your favorite silver pieces. Here are a few of these different tricks.

Olive Oil

Most people know that they can clean their antique silver using vinegar. It’s one of the time-testing methods that works incredibly well. It will also remove any tarnishing from your silver, leaving it looking brand new and smudge-free.

Olive Oil

This technique is great for cleaning items such as antique sterling silver bowls that are going to be passed around a lot. The olive oil will clean all the smudges off, but it does more than that. First, put a bit of olive oil on a soft cleaning cloth. Now rub the cloth against your silver, going with the grain. Then wipe it off using a clean cloth. You’ll remove a good amount of the olive oil, but very trace amounts will remain. These amounts will actually create a protective barrier that prevents future smudges. You’ll need to reapply every now and then, of course.

Use Proper Storage Techniques

If you don’t want to spend time cleaning your silver when you take it out of the cabinet, make sure you’re storing it correctly. All of the silver should be completely dry before you place it in the cabinet. Make sure each item is wrapped in special anti-tarnish paper or in flannel. Then put each piece into an air-tight bag. You can also add some of those small packets of silica gel to the drawer or cabinet. They will help reduce the humidity in the area.

Use Proper Storage Techniques

For items such as antique silver trays, you may want to get anti-tarnish cloth to place in between them when stacking. This is especially necessary if you’re not wrapping the entire piece in anti-tarnish paper. Silver scratches easily, so you want to make sure your items are protected.

Other Cleaning Methods

There are a lot of other common household goods you can use to clean the smudges off of your antique silver tea set and other silver items. Many of these techniques will also help you remove tarnish, so you can take care of two tasks at once.

Other Cleaning Methods

  • Use warm water and a mild dish soap.
  • Use soda water and a damp cloth.
  • Polish the silver with baby oil. Like olive oil, it will help create a protective barrier that prevents future smudging.
  • Use lemon juice.
  • Polish your silver with sheepskin.
  • Use a furniture polish wipe to remove smudges and other spots.
  • Clean your items with glass cleaner.

Many of these tips will work on all of your silver, but if you’re at all concerned, try the solution on a small, unnoticeable part of one piece of silver first.

What precisely is sterling silver and how does it is different from real silver?

If you’ve seen something marked as sterling silver, you may assume that it’s no different from regular silver. However, that’s not the case. These two terms may sometimes be used interchangeably, but they’re not truly equivalent. There is a difference between sterling silver and standard silver, and if you’re buying a lot of different silver jewelry, you should know exactly what it is you’re purchasing.

sterling_and_real_silver

What is Pure or Fine Silver?

If you’re purchasing something that is advertised as pure silver, that means it has 99.9% silver in it. It’s as pure as you can get—there’s no such thing as 100% silver with no impurities. Fine silver is not used in jewelry because it’s simply too soft. The items would be too malleable by hand. That’s why the silver jewelry and other items you purchase will be made from a mixture of silver and another metal (or several metals).

What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver, on the other hand, is a silver alloy. It’s made when pure silver is mixed with copper. The result is an alloy that is not as soft as pure copper and is much more durable. Sterling silver is generally 92.5% pure. That means only 7.5% of the mixture is another metal. While copper is the most common, zinc and nickel are also often used in making sterling silver.

In many cases, items that are made out of sterling silver are actually coated with pure silver. This thin layer improves the look of the piece by making it shinier. However, these products should never be labeled as pure silver because they aren’t.

You should also look for the term “sterling silver plated” on products. These products are not made of sterling silver. Instead, they’re made out of other metals such as copper or nickel. They’ve just had an outer layer of sterling silver applied to them. Over time, this layer is going to start wearing off, leaving the item looking much less attractive.

What is Coin Silver?

If you’re researching sterling silver vs. pure silver, you may also see the term “coin silver” come up. This is another type of silver alloy. However, it’s less pure. Coin silver is generally no more than 90 percent pure silver, so it’s not used in jewelry that often.

How Do You Tell the Difference?

Reputable silver makers should always stamp their creations. On fine silver pieces, you’ll find a number that shows the amount of silver per hundred parts (or thousands, in some cases). The higher the number, the more silver is in the product. Pure silver should have a high number such as 999 (some items are marked as 99.9 or as .999, but these are all indicative of pure silver). On sterling silver, you should see 925 (or, again, 9.25 or .925). If the number is any lower than that, it shouldn’t be marked as sterling silver in the U.S.

Note that sterling silver sold in other countries may have a purity lower than 925. Not all countries have the same purity requirements that the U.S. has.

Reed & Barton – An influential and significant silversmith in the 19th & 20th century

Reed and Barton was a famous silversmith that has had a substantial impact on the silver industry in the 19th and 20th century. The company opened its doors in 1824 when Henry G. Reed and his business partner Charles E. Barton purchased the failing company owned by Isaac Babbitt. This company, Babbitt & Crossman, produced Britannia ware using a material similar to pewter. They later moved into dealing with gold and, eventually, silver. However, their company in Taunton, Massachusetts, was slowly losing money, so the two sold it to Reed and Barton.

reed_and_barton

Early Success in the 1800s

By the end of the 1840s, Reed and Barton silver patterns were fairly popular, and the company had gained a reputation as a plated-silverware business. During the next decade, the company ended up selling a number of unplated items, including trays, bowls, and pitchers, to another company. This company, Rogers Bros., actually put its own hallmark on many of these items. Determining if these items were actually produced by Reed and Barton remains difficult. On the other hand, Reed and Barton actually purchased spoons, forks, and knives from Rogers Bros. around the same time and placed the Reed and Barton silver marks on them, meaning that some Reed and Barton items were only plated by the company.

Reed and Barton supplied the Union soldiers with weapons during the Civil War. Following that, they mainly focused on making silverplated napkin rings. These rings were often shaped like figures. Once sterling silver prices rose during the late 1880s, the company began manufacturing sterling silver pitchers, trays, goblets, flatware, and other items. By the end of the century, the company had used their profits to modernize their factory so they could mass produce their items.

The 1900s

During the 1900s, Reed Barton silver continued to be incredibly popular. The company hired a publicist to assist in promoting their brand. They opened a store in New York City, began making trophies, and took on commissions from the United States Navy. Some notable items Reed and Barton were responsible for include the silver used on the USS Arizona, the metals for the Summer Olympic games held in Atlanta, Georgia, and a number of famous flatware patterns. The 87 silver pieces created for the USS Arizona were actually removed before the ship sunk at Pearl Harbor and can now be seen at the Arizona Capitol Museum.

These flatware patterns are still highly sought after today and have influenced the market. The 1895 Pointed Antique pattern, which was actually based on a unique pattern Paul Revere designed, is still popular. Other popular flatware patterns include Love Disarmed, Francis First, and Georgian Rose Guildhall. Many of these patterns are fairly traditional, but Reed and Barton did release some more modern options such as the 1958 Diamond pattern.

Bankruptcy

The 2000s saw Reed and Barton slowly losing revenue, and in February of 2015, the company filed for bankruptcy. Following an auction in April of that year, most of the assets held by the company were purchased by The Lenox Company, one of Reed and Barton’s competitors.

Silver Patterns that are a Gold Mine for Collectors and Sellers

Have you inherited a set of antique silverware and are wondering if it’s worth anything? Perhaps you’ve come across various sets of flatware at estate sales or thrift stores and wondered if you should purchase it to resell to a collector. Knowing some of the most valuable patterns and sets can be helpful if you’re thinking about selling your silver. Here are some of these patterns you might want to look for.

Antique Tea sets

The Wallace Grand Baroque Pattern

One good example of a set of silver that is worth a nice amount of money is the Wallace Grand Baroque pattern. You may find a standard set of four pieces (fork, salad fork, teaspoon, and knife) of this pattern selling for several hundred dollars. Like most silver sets, there are additional pieces available such as soup spoons, butter knives, and cocktail forks. There are a number of different factors that will determine the overall price you can sell a set of this silver for.

Tea set

Other Patterns to Look For

There are many other patterns you should look for if you want to make a nice profit by reselling silver. Here are a few of them:

  • Audubon by Tiffany – this pattern was produced during the 1950s. In addition to sterling silver, a gold-plated version of the Audubon pattern is also available.
  • Reed and Barton St. Frances – Reed and Barton began producing sterling silver sets in the 1800s. Their older sets are highly sought after, especially since the company went bankrupt in 2015.
  • Rose by Stieff – Stieff, now called Kirk-Stieff, produced a number of patterns. Their most famous is the Maryland or Stieff Rose pattern, a unique print that has been manufactured since 1892.
  • Cactus by George Jensen – this art Deco pattern was mainly produced during the 1920s and 30s.
  • Grand Victoria by Wallace – while not the pattern that made Wallace a true name in the silver industry, the Grand Victoria is still very popular among collectors.

a Tiffany mark

What Makes a Set a Gold Mine?

How do you know if you’ve got a truly collectable set of silverware or if you have something that’s best used at your next family gathering? There are a number of things to take into account. A few pieces of Rose by Stieff may sell fairly well to someone who needs to complete their set, but overall, collectors generally want full sets. A set of Audubon by Tiffany that’s polished, unbent, and undamaged will, naturally, fetch a higher price than a set with rust and obvious
heavy use.

Identifying Sterling Silver Patterns 101

If you have a set of antique sterling silverware, you might be wondering what the pattern is or if what you have is actually an authentic set of sterling flatware. The first thing you’ll want to do is look for the Sterling name on the silverware. In most cases, you’ll find the word sterling on the back of each piece’s handle. In some cases, your silver may have a different identifying logo that is used to mark sterling pieces.

Antique Marking

Is There a Manufacturer’s Mark?

Next, you’ll want to determine which of the sterling silver patterns you have. There are a good number of these patterns. It can help if you can find the manufacturer’s identifying mark. This is often also located on the handle, although this may be a company logo and not a name. You can look online to find a catalog of the different sterling manufacturers and their related logos. Finding this logo is the easiest way of identifying your sterling silver patterns.

Antique Mark

Determine the Pattern

Once you’ve learned which manufacturer created your antique sterling silverware, you can determine the pattern. Again, the internet is a great resource for this. There are websites devoted to cataloging all of the different antique silverware markings out there, and these sites often include detailed images of the various patterns. All you need to do is look at the images available and see which one matches your silverware.

925 Silver

Tips for Silver Patterns Identification

If you’re having difficulty determining which silver pattern you have, here are a few additional tips that can help you narrow it down.

  • Polish your silverware if you’re having difficulty determining the manufacturer’s mark. Sometimes cleaning it can make it easier to identify.
  • Look for “925” or another number. This identifies how much of the piece is made from
    sterling.
  • Sometimes looking for antique silverware markings that show your flatware set is not sterling silver is just as helpful as looking for sterling marks. If you see “IS” or “A1” on your silverware, it indicates that the piece is silver-plated, not sterling silver.
  • There are some companies that provide silver patterns identification services. You take a clear picture of your silverware pattern and email or fax it to them. Their experts then help you determine the pattern.
  • Remember that some manufacturers changed their company marks over time, especially
    when a company was bought out or merged with another. If the mark you find doesn’t quite match the image you see online, continue your search into that manufacturer to see if they used a different mark at some point.

Smart Ways to Sell Family Silver for Cash

When you decide it’s time to sell off your family’s antique silver, you want to be sure you get the best value for it. Selling silverware, teapots, and other similar things is a bit more complicated than just heading down to your local pawn shop—at least if you want to get top dollar.To sell silver and get the most out of it, you need to know a few things. Here are a few tips on finding antique silver buyers in Florida, and getting the money that your family silver is truly worth.

Finding Out Where to Sell Silver

Second, the people who work in pawn shops are kind of a jack of all trades when it comes to purchasing and selling goods. They don’t have the trained eye that is required to truly evaluate the worth of a piece. A pawn shop employee may believe that he or she is offering you a great price and unknowingly underbid you for your family silver.

Antique Pawn Shop

Before you take your silver in, spend some time polishing it. A trained eye will see the silver’s value, regardless of whether you polished it or not. Still, silver buyers are people, too, and leaving a good impression will never hurt your position.

Never settle for the first offer you get. Remember, these people make a living by buying low and selling high. Get two or three offers, then consider which one you feel is best for your situation.

An alternative to this would be to take your family silver to a silver dealer for an evaluation as to its value. Be very clear beforehand that you are willing to pay him or her for his or her expertise in valuing the silver, but you will not be selling to him or her (that removes any incentive to provide a lower than usual valuation). Then, using that valuation as a baseline, shop around and see what kind of offers you can get.

What is the Difference Between Silver and White Gold?

Although sterling silver may look just like white gold, the truth of the matter is that there is a crucial and distinct difference between the two precious metals. If you were wondering why white gold is sold for more than silver—even though they look pretty much the same—read on.

White gold behaves differently than silver does

For one thing, silver tends to be harder than white gold. This means that, while they may look the same, the silver is more difficult to use when a jeweler is making precision engravings. Frequently rings, brooches, and other items of jewelry are crafted with names or messages engraved inside them. It is difficult for jewelers to pull this off with silver, so they turn to white gold.

a piece of white gold jewelry next to a piece of silver jewelry

In addition, silver, as you know, can tarnish over time. If you look at a piece made from antique sterling silver, you can easily see the need for polishing to remove the tarnish. On the other hand, gold does not tarnish. So, for a piece of jewelry that will never need to be polished, white gold is the metal of choice.

White gold and silver are composed of different elements

While this might seem so obvious as to not even need noting, the fact of the matter is that white gold is composed primarily of, well, gold. Gold is inherently more costly than silver.

What we call white gold is actually a mixture of gold and other metals. Because the core element is gold, by extension it makes sense that white gold would be more costly than silver.

White gold is very easy on the skin. Some people tend to have a reaction when wearing jewelry made out of anything other than gold. While white gold is not pure gold, it is composed of a large enough percentage of gold to make it usable by people such as this. Further, while some people may experience some skin discoloration from silver (or other) jewelry, white gold will leave no such discoloration. Because of this, white gold is ideal for use by people with sensitive skin or allergies to some other types of metals.

Should you choose silver or white gold?

So then, which one is better? The answer is that it depends. Silver does have some applications where it would be preferred. Remember, silver tends to be harder than gold, so it holds up better to the wear and tear of everyday use. On the other hand, because white gold is composed of gold, it is more costly and has the positive attributes of regular gold.

If you are in the market to purchase jewelry, the determination of whether you want silver or white gold will really depend on your personal needs. If you tend to have sensitive skin, it’s a no-brainer that you would choose white gold. Likewise, if you are not very thrilled about having to polish your jewelry, it’s best to steer clear of silver.

Secrets About Silver That Appraisers Don’t Want You to Know

Taking your silver in to be appraised requires some homework on your part if you want to get the best price. Here are some secrets of the trade that many silver appraisers won’t tell you.

While they may look the same, there is a difference between sterling silver, Britannia silver, and other types. Most silver utensils and other things for use around the house—as well as jewelry—are not pure silver. In fact, pure silver usually only comes in bars and is used in international trading or investing.

The reason pure silver is not used to create household items is because pure silver is soft enough that it would bend easily and quickly lose its ability to be used for anything. To strengthen it, the silver is mixed with other metals such as copper. The allows the metal to be shaped and gives it the strength to hold its shape during use.

The purity of the alloy varies, and as you can probably imagine, the purer the form of silver, the more it is worth. If you take some Britannia silver in—not knowing that it is Britannia—the appraiser may give you a price for sterling silver.

Silver plated pieces have value, too

If an appraiser tells you that your piece is only worth a few dollars because it is plated and not solid, you should get another opinion. The value of a given piece comes from a few factors, and one of them is the thickness of the plating. If your piece has plating that is twice as thick as others, it would stand to reason that it is worth more. After all, it has more silver in it.

antique mould

Google a term such as sell silver near me and go find another appraiser. Remember, you don’t have to settle for the first offer, and it is a prudent thing to obtain multiple valuations anyway. You may spend a few dollars more in appraisal fees, but if the end result is a several hundred dollar increase in the price you sell it, you come out far ahead of the game.

Some appraisers are influenced by their own bias

Appraisers are people too. This means that they can be—and often are—influenced by things such as whether they personally like the look of a certain piece of silver jewelry. This can be completely unintentional: an appraiser may truly believe he or she is giving you an honest appraisal, but it may be lower (or higher) than it should be just because he or she dislikes (or likes) the way a piece looks.

For this reason, and others, it’s always a good idea to get no fewer than three appraisals. That way you can identify one that seems to be an outlier and either reject any offers in that range or snap them up if they are higher than the other appraisals. So, take your time, get multiple appraisals, and then decide what you want to do.

Sterling vs. Britannia Silver

Do you have a silver collection at home but aren’t sure of the silver composition? It is possible that your silverware or other antiques are silver plated, but you might also have something more valuable – sterling silver or Britannia silver. While Britannia silver is typically more expensive than sterling silver antiques, both can be indicative of valuable pieces, and it is important to know the difference between the two.

What is Sterling Silver?

Sterling silver is a silver alloy that contains 92.5% silver by weight. The other 7.5% of its composition is made of other metals, mostly copper, and antiques often denote their sterling silver composition with a “925” or “sterling” hallmark. Historically, sterling silver has been used for a variety of eating utensils, flatware, and other serving items, and there are many sterling silver pieces that are prized as antiques today.

Sterling silver has long been heralded for its versatile applications and lustrous finish. Sterling silver is harder than gold, but it is considered to be one of the most pliable metals. This malleability makes it easy to use sterling silver to create various forms and shapes, and there are many prized antiques that are made from this metal.

Sterling Silver set

What is Britannia Silver?

The Britannia standard of silver was developed in 1697 as a way to prevent British sterling coins from being melted to create silver plate. Unlike sterling silver, which is made of 92.5% silver, Britannia silver is composed of at least 95.84% pure silver. The other 4.16% of its composition is made of copper and other metals. Britannia silver is also more expensive and less robust than sterling silver.

There are several marks that can indicate a piece is Britannia silver. The Britannia figure is widely recognized and was the first of the Britannia silver marks introduced to indicate. 958 silver fineness. Later, a “lions head erased” mark was introduced for the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. The number “958” is also stamped on Britannia silver pieces.

Is Your Piece Sterling or Britannia Silver?

The hallmarks on your silver item are the best way to determine if your piece is sterling silver or Britannia. However, if you are unsure of the silver composition – or if you simply want to learn more about the value of your piece – there are resources that can help. An auction house, antique dealer, or appraiser can provide you some helpful guidance on what exactly you have with your silver piece.

At Antique Silver Buyers, we are happy to examine your sterling silverware or other antiques to help you determine the value. We will perform a thorough market analysis of your collection, providing you with the price that your items would likely sell for at an auction. If you are interested in selling, we will provide you with a bid just under our market analysis price and can take the items off of your hands.

Important Tips For Cleaning Your Silver and Antiques

Do you have a silver antique that has seen better days and needs to be cleaned? Are you looking for a way to polish your antique silverware to give it a shine that you’ll be proud to show off? There are many safe ways that you can clean your silver and antiques, all at an affordable price. If you are interested in the best way to clean silver plate, follow some of these helpful tips.

Silver Plate Cleaning Methods

There are a ton of ways that you can go about cleaning silver plate naturally, which is one of the best ways to clean your antiques without worrying about damage to your pieces:

  • Vinegar. If your silverware or silver jewelry has lost its shine, you can soak it in a solution of 2 tbsp. baking soda in ½ cup of white vinegar.
  • Lemon. For silver that sparkles and shines, mix one tablespoon of lemon juice with ½ cup instant dry milk and 1 ½ cups of water.
  • Corn starch. A mix of water of cornstarch and water can create a paste that will make your silver antiques look like new again. Allow the paste to dry on the silver, and then rub it off with a mildly-abrasive cloth.
  • Tomato paste. Dunk small silver pieces into tomato paste and scrub with a toothbrush. You’ll get a thorough cleaning and the silver will sparkle upon completion.

Many of these items are probably already in your pantry, providing you a simple and affordable way to clean your most prized silver possessions.

Silver Plate Cleaning Methods

How to Polish Your Silver

After cleaning your silverware, you may want to give it some extra sheen with a good polish. There are a variety of safe silver polishes available for purchase, including Wright’s Silver Polish, Twinkle Silver Polish, and Goddard’s Long Shine Silver Polish. While these products are safe, others, including all-purpose metal cleaners, are too abrasive and may scratch your silver antiques.

After washing and cleaning your silver thoroughly, follow these tips to polish appropriate:

  • Apply the polish using the instructions on the container. You should always use a soft and clean cloth and apply the polish with a circular, gentle motion.
  • Use hot water to rinse off the polish and dry the piece thoroughly.
  • Using a soft cloth, buff the silver to create a soft luster. Remember that aggressive polishing could rub off the hallmark or damage the silver-plating, significantly altering the value.

Antiques

Cleaning your silver and antiques doesn’t have to be an expensive process, but you should be sure to take proper precautions. A clean and well-polished antique will look more valuable and is more likely to sell at an auction or estate sale. If you are interested in selling, bring your antiques in to Antique Silver Buyers, where we will provide a market analysis of your collection – the total that they are likely to sell for at auction.