GENERAL ACCEPTABLE CONDITION FOR ANTIQUE METALS

By: John Hogan

Some denting of antique metals generally attest to the authenticity of the antiquity of metals and is considered acceptable by collector and dealer standards. This is not to say that all metals that have dents are antique.

Georgian-Mid Victorian Brass Jardinire, C. 1850-60

Geo. Sparrow, Canadian Antique Copper Candy Maker, C. 1900

Geo. Sparrow, Canadian Copper Candy Maker, C. 1900

Victorian Antique Brass Oil Lamp Wall Bracket, C. 1900

Victorian Antique Brass Oil Lamp Wall Bracket, C. 1880

Dutch Antique Copper Coal Scuttle, C. 1940

Dutch Antique Copper Coal Scuttle, C. 1940

Other than denting, there are other things to look for such as how it is assembled or joined or welded. Look for quality impressed maker's marks or other factory marks such as year dates and numbers which accompany some antique metals. Most antique hollow-ware metal pieces, such as jardinieres or planters, large bowls, tea kettles, etc will almost always have bottom interior oxidation. Objects such as antique candlesticks will almost always have a slight leaning to one side and almost always have darkening on the interior of where the candle is placed due to heat and wax buildup over the years. Oxidization both on the interior and exterior of a piece is also acceptable and is considered as "patina" by purists. If metals are well over one hundred years old it is not generally recommended to clean them or buff them on a machine, for this process will remove all the original patina and possibly devalue them. Bronze is one metal in particular that should not be buffed, if buffed the bronze looses over one half of its value. Use a gentle liquid soft soap solution with a soft bristle brush and hot water to remove built up dirt and dust particles that may be encrusted in any ornate floral or scroll work on the object in question.

As for silverware it is generally acceptable to polish it to bring out its original beauty and luster. As for re-plating or re-silvering, see a specialist. Sometimes it is acceptable to re-silver and other times it is not acceptable depending on what the piece is and if it is Georgian or mid Victorian. Again such a process may enhance its looks aesthetically but may devalue the piece.

As for antique brass, it is normally acceptable to polish it to bring it to a high sheen or luster. Brass will again oxidize with time and have a normal glow.

As for copper, it is generally acceptable to clean it but if it is truly antique like Georgian and mid Victorian, it is not generally acceptable to over polish or buff it because you are then removing its natural patina. Again just use a mild solution with hot water and a soft brush to remove excess dirt and dust.

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