Copperware collectors hold inaugural meeting in Ohio

TOLEDO, Ohio – For the first time, the Antique Copperware Collectors Club, with members from Maine to California, gathered in Toledo, Ohio, on Nov. 2-3.

Highlights of the first day of the gathering included an informative tour of D. Picking & Co. in Bucyrus, Ohio. Established in 1874, it is the only remaining company in the United States that makes copper kettles using the same hand methods and tools that were used in the 19th century.

The second day included several pertinent discussions about 19th century to early 20th century American copperware companies, and cleaning copperware. The following advice on copperware care was shared during this event.

These copper pieces were made at D Picking & Co., in the facility copperware club members toured during their first meeting. (Photo courtesy D. Picking & Co.)

To polish or not to polish, that is the question. Some collectors prefer not to polish their pieces to retain the patina and preserve the value. Many people who collect copperware that was previously used for culinary purposes like to have their pieces polished on a regular basis.

The process of buffing antique copperware is also a common practice. The best results are achieved when this is done by an experienced person; and buffing can be somewhat expensive, if you do not learn to do it yourself. Popular do-it-yourself methods to clean copperware include using a mixture of lemon juice and salt, or a mixture of vinegar and salt; use of ketchup; or the application of Brasso or other over-the-counter metal polish.

Sometimes a product called “Wenol” is used to achieve a high gloss on previously polished pieces. If a piece has considerable discoloration, a metal cleaner should first be used, followed by polishing.

Another issue that plagues many collectors is the oil from bare hands discloring polished copper. Using rubber/latex gloves when handling polished pieces will help prevent this. Some collectors even coat their pieces with common car wax after polishing as a means of reducing discoloration. Decreasing the presence of environmental moisture with the use of a dehumidifier will also help reduce discoloration.

Although lacquering copper pieces can delay discoloration for years, it’s generally not recommended. Lacquer can be removed from copper pieces using acetone.

This article originally appeared in Antique Trader magazine

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One common factor in all copperware cleaning and polishing methods: They all require “elbow grease” and safety precautions should be studied and followed prior to using any commercial polishing and cleaning products.

The club’s meeting concluded with attendees displaying their collections, which included purchase and sale of several pieces between those in attendance. Organizers were pleased with the turnout and the interest for additional gatherings.

The next meeting of the Club is planned for October 2013 in New England.

For additional information on the Antique Copperware Collectors Club, email

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