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Subject: Silver Plater

Silver Plater

From: Linda S. Roundhill <artsconservation<-a>
Date: Sunday, November 13, 2005
Dominique Rogers <do [at] pepin__demon__co__uk> writes

Has anybody heard of and used of a product called "Silver Plater"?
The bumpf reads:

   "Silver Plater is a liquid that actually contains silver. It adds
    a fine layer of silver to your precious silver pieces whilst you
    polish (...Blah, blah). By a process known as molecular plating,
    Silver Plater plates surfaces with a layer of pure silver during

I personally would not recommend anything that removes from or adds
to the historic silver surface, as this will change it irreparably.
Plating adds silver that should not be there.  The tarnish used to
be metallic silver, so removing tarnish exposes new silver that is
then subject to more tarnish, and so the surface is slowly worn
away. Sometimes it is best left alone and just protect from
handling. The only relatively safe way to keep silver bright and
still display it would be to clean it extremely gently and coat it
with a synthetic resin lacquer.  But a lacquer would need to be
replaced periodically (how often depends on the type of lacquer and
the quality of the application).

If you cannot get the items treated by a conservator, ultra-fine
calcium carbonate (available from chemical supply houses) can be
used on a clean, soft cloth dampened with water, changing the cloth
often and rubbing only enough to remove the tarnish.   Do not be
tempted to use commercial preparations as they are generally
physically and chemically damaging. Warning: if there is an old
lacquer present, it will have to be completely removed first.

Polished silver will always become darkened in open air.  How long
the surface remains bright will depend on the air quality of the not very long in industrial areas with little
filtering of outside air.  Sulfur dioxide is what turns silver black
and this can come from many sources.  There are agents you can buy
to rub on the surface that claim to inhibit corrosion, but they
generally also contain abrasives.

Lacquers are difficult to apply evenly, so I would try to get in
touch with a professional who does this if the museum decides that
it must have shiny silver items on display.

One historic place I know put some of their originals in inhibited
storage and bought good quality reproductions from England to use
for display.  This way they don't have to worry about polishing it
too often.

Sorry to be so negative, but the subject is a tricky one with no
easy answers, and not everyone agrees on the best approach.
Good luck,

Linda Roundhill
Art and Antiquities Conservation, L.L.C.
Woodinville, WA

                  Conservation DistList Instance 19:26
                Distributed: Saturday, November 19, 2005
                       Message Id: cdl-19-26-002
Received on Sunday, 13 November, 2005

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