- Welcome to The Wise Collector
- Knowledge Changes Everything!
- Buyer Beware!
- Buyer Beware!: Part II
- Caring for Your Antiques
- Coin Collecting
- McCoy Pottery
- Chinese Export Porcelain
- Frankoma Pottery
- The Arts and Crafts Movement
- The Art Deco Period
- Susie Cooper Pottery
- Limoges China
- 18th C American Furniture Styles
- The Bauhaus School: Weimar 1919
- The Bauhaus School: Design & Architecture
- The End of a Century: Art Nouveau Style
- Biedermeier: The Comfortable Style
- The Souvenir Age
- A History of Ceramic Tiles
- Flow Blue China
- Collect Vintage Christmas Decorations
- An American Thanksgiving Through theYears
- How to Find an Antiques Appraiser
- Louis Prang, Father of the American Christmas Card
- Thomas Cook and the Grand Tours
- Harry Rinker's 25th Anniversary
- Mid-Century Modern
- Will Chintz China become Popular Again?
- Ireland's Waterford Crystal
- Vintage Wicker and Rattan
- Fishing Gear Collecting
- Bennington Pottery
- Identifying Pottery and Ceramic Marks
- The Art of Needlework in the Arts & Crafts Era
- The Delicious World of Vintage Cookbooks
- BLOG: RANDOM THOUGHTS
- E-BOOKS BY BARBARA BELL
- First Reader Consulting
Caring for Your Antiques
We are fortunate to have the lovely things we call "antiques" in our homes today because our grandmothers and great-grandmothers took tender care of their furniture, china and silver. These things were more than investments of hard-earned money to them. Often the furniture and household items were handed down to them from another generation as well. Memories of hardship, of travail, of family wealth, or cultural traditions were embodied in the wood your grandmother carefully polished each week, the lace she carefully mended and ironed before putting away for another Sunday, the silver candlesticks she reverently wrapped and unwrapped each Sabbath. Perhaps you own these furnishings now because you haunted auctions and antique shops for just the right look for your home, and the unknown families who owned them also loved and cared for them a hundred years ago.
We carry on this tradition when we care for our antiques properly. In so doing, the memories are preserved for our own grandchildren and their children. With the proper techniques our special belongings can last another fifty, one hundred or two hundred years and be appreciated for their beauty and usefulness by many more generations.
Did you know that frequent use actually helps develop the patina of silver? Flatware that is used daily won't tarnish as quickly, especially if you rotate the pieces used so that the patina develops evenly across the set. Soaking silverware overnight isn't recommended, as this can damage the metal. Instead, rinse the silverware immediately after use, to remove any acidic or corrosive foods such as salt, mayonnaise or eggs.
There are dozens of resources on the Web that can assist you in learning to properly care for your antiques. Whether you are maintaining the good condition or restoring, refinishing or repairing an item, you can find help with the tips and techniques at these sites:
The Museum of Florida provides instructions for caring for quilts at Caring for Quilts at Home, part of a multi-part series called "Artifact Care Series" which also covers wood, paintings and leather. If you search the site for "Artifact Care Series" you'll find several other good articles.
An extensive directory and index of articles on restoring and preserving furniture can be found at Antiques Restorers.
An outstanding web site that specializes in furniture restoration, repair and refinishing - with articles and sources - is the Wicker Woman.
The Old Cinema is another British resource which covers everything from arms and armor (is your armor rusty?) to books, clocks and watches, and much more. An outstanding site!
A clock-repair guide can be found at 400DAYREGTIPS which offers advice if you really want to tackle the cleaning of an antique clock, although he advises against it. This basic guide leans heavily toward hiring a good clockmaker. This might be the best advice when caring for an heirloom tall case clock.
Uniclectica, a large, well-executed one-dealer website gives care instructions for ivory, silver and hollow furniture. It’s one of the best sites for this information that I’ve found.
Caring for your antiques should be an act of love and respect, whether you are a dealer or a homeowner. They have reached our hands in a long continuum of ownership that included countless hands before us. Now it is our responsibility to make sure the next owner receives them in as good or better condition than we did.
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