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How to Make Your Silverplate Flatware Glow Like Hotel Silver

Antique hotel silver has a magical allure. Highly collectible, it is sought after for its' provenance. Knowing that people used it while dining in a great hotel has always attracted collectors. But provenance isn't the only reason people are attracted to hotel silver. It has a beautiful patina that being used thousands of times creates. Tiny microscopic scratches from heavy hotel use give quality silver plated pieces a certain glow that is never replicated in antique silverplate used in the home. I thought today I would share an antiques dealer trick to replicate the look of hotel silver.

A few years back I specialized in sterling holloware. One of the things that often happens to dealers is they may find a special piece, but in order to acquire it they have to buy a whole lot  or box of unwanted pieces. I would often find sterling among plated pieces and would have to buy everything to get it.  I have kept some of the silver plate just to use at home. I have a penchant for monogrammed silver plated flatware and to this day will spend twenty minutes sifting through junk tables at flea markets to find a treasure.

So how do you get your flea market silver plate to look like it came from a French Hotel?

Here is an antiques dealer trick..

(Now remember this is only for silver plate, not sterling.)

 Take your plated piece and cover it lightly with toothpaste, use a heavy layer if the piece is very tarnished. Take a Brillo pad..yes I said a Brillo pad or any generic version of a soapy steel wool pad. Squirt it with dish soap, turn on the faucet using cold water, keeping the piece under the running water, lightly rub your silver plate. I like to use light circular motion. If it is tarnished you will need to 'reload' with toothpaste and soap several times. When you are happy with the patina, rinse well, dip in rubbing alcohol and blow dry with your hairdryer on cool. That's it!

I have used this technique on small pieces like flatware and large ones, including champagne buckets and trays and on these four spoons I picked up at a flea market today. During the holidays you often see special Christmas shows with lots of antique and vintage silver plate for sale. They always have that special patina. And now you know how they get it!


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