Collecting Silver

Collectible silver is one of the great joys of the antique world. There is something uniquely personal about it.

 photo courtesy of Peter Vitale for Veranda

Peter Vitale
Silver is a valuable antique that gains character with every occasion. I love formal pieces used in a casual way with fresh green herbs & moss filling a pretty porridger.
click to learn more on the care of silver

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Handed down from one generation to the next, these pieces become one of the many threads in a family’s history. The arrival of a new baby is a celebration & perfect occasion for passing on family heirlooms like silver cups.

Set on a shelf or on a beautifully laid table, old silver pieces add grace & history to a room.  shabby flickr Flickr

Unlike many antique collectibles silver is not just for show. Serving coffee or tea from a Tiffany & Co. service turns a sideboard into a special setting & only adds to the serenity of this incredible view.  Photo by Billy Cunningham

Billy Cunningham

On a window ledge, Christmas spirit makes a splash, with pine boughs propped about a silver bowl of ornaments.

holiday greens in bowl

Casey Sills

Mixing patterns of flatware & serving pieces is both unusual & decorative.

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How about pairing this gorgeous Norwegian bowl full of cherries with an English serving tray!

photo by Aimee Herring for Veranda

Aimee Herring

Daily use of old silver gives new life to the antique & connects the collector with the past.

tablebroom via tounge & cheek

Tongue & Cheek

Over time pieces will develop patinas that make each set distinctive and uniquely beautiful.

serving fork via et a part caet a part ca

One of the very best characteristics of silver is the fact that handling and polishing can actually improve its appearance. No, this is not my butler.

photo by Rene Stoeltie for Veranda 
Rene Stoeltie

When my family lovingly passed some treasured pieces my way, they also gave excellent advice regarding the care & consideration of each piece.

I quickly realized that if I didn’t want to have “polishing parties” every time I wanted to use it, I better pay close attention to how I was going to store it!

floursack towels

flickr

So I thought I would share this good advice with all of you to keep your collected silver practically tarnish-free.

 before via Daniela at Bella Signature Design after via Daniela at Bella Signature Design 
Bella Signature Design
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.

anti tarnish fabric pouch

Nancy Silver

Obviously the key to keeping it beautiful while in long-term storage is keeping it polished, dry and as far from salt and other environmental impurities as possible. There are many brands of polish made especially for silver. Use what works best for your needs.

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For polishing, I love Bar Keepers Friend. It works miracles on many things & can be found at most markets. It’s safe for silver. We also used it at Williams-Sonoma for polishing brass & stainless steel cookware. Wenol is a soft paste, used sparingly, it goes a long way. Great for small jobs, it can be found at most hardware stores.

Wenol Polish

For a “homemade” approach that really works try this. Place sterling or plated silver in an aluminum pan, it must be aluminum. Sprinkle 1/2 to 1 cup baking soda over the silverware.

removing tarnish

Martha Stewart

A simple chemical reaction causes the tarnish to disappear naturally. Keeping the pan in the sink to minimize splashing, pour enough boiling water to cover the utensils. When the tarnish disappears, remove the silverware, and buff with a soft cotton cloth or use flour sack towels, they are lint-free and dry quickly. I buy them at the market too.

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And those gloves shown above aren’t an expression of prissiness or an attempt to protect the polisher’s delicate 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.

ebay item 
I adore this “preppy” silver chest with a 6-pc place setting of Wallace Sterling. I just saw it on EBay!

If you don’t have a chest for flatware & other items, not to worry! You can line a drawer with Kenized® cloth for flatware or make individual bags or pouches for special pieces. Kenized® cloth is 100 percent cotton flannel that has been treated with zinc, to protect silver from tarnishing. The cloth forms a barrier, keeping away sulfur, salt, or other caustic elements in the air.

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Check your local fabric shop for Kenized® cloth or order by the yard from Nancy Silver .

Martha stores her silver in Kenized® cloth drawer liners. I found these at The October Company.

drawer-insert-for-silverware by The october Company

If you are unable to find Kenized® cloth you’re not out of luck. 3M makes these fabulous Anti-Tarnish Strips!

3M tarnish strips

Martha Stewart

Simply line a drawer or cabinet with 100% cotton flannel cloth. Adding anti-tarnish strips to the drawer along with the liners makes for the perfect combination. These paper strips contain an active absorption ingredient that is completely nontoxic and can be purchased at your local hardware.

Whether by birth or by choice, our lives can be touched with silver. Our homes can be enhanced by graceful old pieces handed down over the years.


goblet

Peter Vitale

So pull out your pretties, and get creative! Fill them with flowers, place them anywhere you like! Live with them & love them and with proper care and cleaning your investment or personal treasure will last a lifetime!

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