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Silver Storage and Display

Tips for Storing and Displaying Your Sterling and Silver Plated Wares


Victorian silver plate soup ladle - Silver Care and Display

1897 Berkshire Large Soup Ladle

-Bay-dreamer's Silver Chest
Whether you store or display your silver and silver plate after it's thoroughly cleaned and polished up, use caution. Certain materials and finishes have been known to cause an adverse chemical reaction with silver, which can lead to heartbreaking damage.

Safely Storing Silver and Silver Plate

After your pieces are clean and completely dry, wrap each of them individually with acid-free buffered tissue, or washed cotton, linen, or polyester to store. Wrapping pieces in specially made bags or silver cloths designed to deter tarnish make good storage choices as well.

Do not use wool, felt, chamois leather or newspaper, which can cause excessive tarnishing that will be difficult to clean, or even worse, remove plating. Once the plating is damaged on a piece of silver plate, it is very costly to repair and replating a piece of antique silver will considerably diminish the value unless it's an extremely rare piece.

Safely Displaying Silver and Silver Plate in Your Home

If you'd like to display your silver rather than storing it, a glass-enclosed cabinet makes a good choice. Just be sure to avoid unvarnished wood shelves that can omit harmful vapors. And if you use glass shelves, make sure they're sturdy enough to hold heavy silver items.

Camphor blocks can be added to the cabinet to help prevent tarnish, but don't let them actually touch the silver. Special anti-tarnish papers and cloths containing activated carbon or silver salts can be placed in display cases as well. You can purchase these items from jewelers or department and specialty stores where new silver pieces are sold, along with directions on how to use them safely.

You'll want to avoid displaying or storing silver near cotton felt, wool or velvet as well. These fabrics contain sulfides that attack the metal. Direct sunlight doesn't actually cause tarnish, but it can accelerate the progression of the unattractive film, so place your silver display case away from sunny windows for best results.

Handling Silver Between Cleanings

When handling silver between cleanings, you'll want to wear white cotton gloves whenever possible. If you don't have gloves handy, use a clean, soft cotton cloth to cradle the item as you move it around.

This is necessary to avoid leaving behind salts, oils and acids found in your skin which can cause corrosion if they aren't immediately removed from silver and silver plate. Arnold's book (see page 1) also mentions that fingerprints can even be etched into silver if left uncleaned for a long period of time.

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