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Silver Collector Forums

Worn gilding / cleaning off varnish


Had posted this under “Restoration” but no suggestions and I think it really sits better under the “Cleaning” forum:

Two questions please:

  1. I have some typical large sterling silver corinthian column candlesticks which have very worn gilding. I understand that the gilding is put on silver by an elctroplating process. Is it possible to reverse the process - I would like the candlesticks to revert to their original silver and they match another pair I have.

  2. Still on candlesticks. I would like to know if it is possible to remove what appears to be varnish from a pair of 1816 Brirmingham rococco candlesticks. I don’t want to take paint stripper to them of course! Can I clean myself somehow, or would a silver restorer undertake this rather unusual request for me?

Peter Grant (London)


Hello Peter!

Sorry for the oversight of your post.

  1. The problem with stripping gold from silver is that the acid doesn’t know when to stop stripping because gold and silver are similar. You could contact a plater to see if they would stand over the tank for however much time it would take to strip the gold. Be aware thet the resulting surface will have to be machine-polished afterwards.

  2. You could strip the lacquer yourself with this product: