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


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.


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.


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.


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!


Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

I don't have a lot of good silver, Lisa, but I do have good silverware that I bring out on holidays and special occasions. Lucky enough, my china cabinet/hutch has a drawer to hold silverware that has that lining that you mention above.

Lisa @ Another Day Today said...

I love to find silver pieces at antique stores and bring them home. I've never tried Bar Keepers Friend before - thank you for the suggestion.


A Gift Wrapped Life said...

When you take on a subject Lisa, you tell us everything plus add in inspiration! You are the only person who could make me want to clean silver. A beautiful and practical post.

teaorwine said...

I have been using 3M Anti-tarnish strips for years! They are awesome.

Styling by Coty Farquhar said...

I love this post Lisa and like everyone...I just love silver! I don't think any of those brands are in Australia, but we do have some good ones here that I use. Thanks for the tip about the fabrics, I have a collection of teapots on display on a shelf in my kitchen and I think I might have to change them to something else like jugs as I have to constantly polish them. In fact they need polishing right now. But, they do look beautiful when they are polished.

But they will be polished and perfect for that cup of tea that will share one day.

xxx Coty

Styling by Coty Farquhar said...

Oops, I just realised I left out the word 'we' from my comment above from

....the cup of tea that WE will share one day and not to mention the many glasses of bubbly.

xxx Coty

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Terrific post Lisa. I could not agree more; silver pieces are something to be cherished. Each piece passed on hold's a story. I appreciate the care tips, & was happy to know about the 3M strips. I had never heard of them.

Great job!

Antique Trails said...

Thank you for sharing some wonderful silver pieces and some great tips.

The porridger filled with the herbs and moss looks fantastic.


Bonnie said...

Hi Lisa,
Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful pictures and this excellent information on silver. The pictures look like they belong in a glossy interior design magazine! I also inherited quite a bit of silver. I need to clean some of it and these tips are excellent! But first... I must catch up on your previous posts. Your blog is always so wonderful!

Anne Marie said...

Lisa! you have no idea how great this post is.......I do need a good silver cleaner - yet I do love some tarnish -
so your suggestion is to just put them anywhere......that's usually what I do, however, I thought of using a table or something to display them all -
i'll have to look around for a good picture......
and that little meringue yummy on your sidebar sure looks srumptious.

Vitania said...

This has been one of the most inpiring posts i have seen lately. The gallery is beautiful, (even the cleaning gloves) So easy to forget the simple beauty of silveware...

Sara Baldwin said...

Thank you for your wonderful post! I collect old sterling flatware and use it every day, even throwing it in the dishwasher--it is a passion of mine. Your tips on slowing down the tarnishing process are much appreciated!

Maria Killam said...

Wow such a happy and beautiful place your blog is! I loved these images, just stunning, especially the one with the view of the bridge!

Renae said...

I enjoyed this so much, it reminded me of my grandmother who was giving me her silver polishing detail on her deathbed. I adore silver and collect interesting pieces. I recently added a little creamer pitcher. Silver is my too!

Cote de Texas said...

I shall be off to polish - now that you have explained it all!! What a wonderful post and so beautiful too.

Stylish Bird said...

Thank you for the good advise! I received some silverware from Tiffany's for my wedding a year ago and haven't used it much as it is so labor intensive to clean. I will try some of your tricks!

GrannySmithGreen said...

This must be one of my favorite topics! How I adore silver--the older the better! The polishing tips are excellent as well. I must give them a try. The old julep cups are a bit, ugh, black! Lovely post, as always, kink friend!

sophie dahy designs said...

Wonderful post, Lisa!There is nothing lovelier than old silver with the rich patina it develops with age. I love old monogrammed silver. The monograms are usually so pretty, and its fun thinking about its history.

My Notting Hill said...

What a dreamy collection of pictures. Never knew the name for that cloth (Kenized)or how it worked - thanks!

Paula Kathlyn said...

My Grandma works at a sterling silver jewelry store. She gives us loads of jewelry. I cleaned all of my silver the other day and it felt wonderful! All of those yucky, tarnished pieces turned back into their beautiful selves :) I love silver anything- especially baby cups. I believe every little baby should have their own silver cup. Thanks for sharing!

Millie said...

I do love my silver pieces Lisa, but now that the kids have all left home I've lost my polishers! They always knew I was good for $2/piece on cold, rainy weekend days! What a lovely, thoughtful & highly educative piece. Thank you dear.
Millie ^_^

Silver said...

Gorgeous silverware pics! I have a set of silverware that I bring out on special occasions only.
Silver MLM