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Silver Collector Forums

Warm water & silver

I’m a firm beleiver that warm water and soap is probably the best silver cleaneer unless there is a lot of really old tarnish. My wife is having a ladies luncheon at our house in the near future, and we own our silver to enjoy and set a fine table with it, so I’m the polisher…a role I cherish - having our vintage silver in my hands is soothing, almost like fishing.

In any event, one item that was put out for me to polish today is a Vici hand mirror, think the marks are English, about 1895, and it is very intricate, lots of dips and swirls. I first warmed it in some warm, not hot - water, then used a horsehair brush and some liquid silver polish, then rinsed it off under some warm running water with a little liquid dish washing detergent, using the same horsehair brush. Then I gently wiped it with an old towel to dry it, and lo and behold, the thin ring around the mirror popped off in my hand…

The mirror did not fall out and break thank goodness, but my heart was pounding. I tried to pop the retaining ring back in but it was a little too large…silver expands a lot when warm. I then put the whole thing in the freezer for about five minutes and VOLA! the ring popped right back in the groove…

The laws of physics…posted to perhaps guide others to avoid sudden heart attacks…

Uncle Vic

Hello Uncle Vic,

Here’s a safer solution:

You dont’ actually have to wash the piece under running water to remove light tarnish. A liquid, non-abrasive, unscented, aloe-free hand sanitizer, such as Purell, may remove it. Use a large cotton ball and rotate it regularly to expose unused surfaces, as elements in the tarnish itself can be very abrasive; then dry the piece with a Selvyt cloth or cotton dish towel.