60-Second Silver: Beware using quick-fix silver polishes

You just purchased a silver vase with one of those labels that leaves a sticky mess!

Next time, before peeling off the label, use a hair dryer to soften the adhesive. The label will probably come off cleanly, but if it leaves a sticky residue, wait for the piece to cool.

Try removing it with some Elmer’s Sticky Out, 91 percent isopropyl alcohol, or Goo Gone on a soft paper towel or cotton ball. Elmer’s Sticky Out is the safest alternative, health-wise. The other two should be used in a well ventilated area with nitrile gloves.

Any residue remaining after using any of the three cleaners should be removed with Windex Multi-Surface Cleaner with Vinegar. If a discolored spot remains where the adhesive had been, remove it with silver polish.

I have viewed numerous online videos demonstrating harmful silver polishing techniques. Some of these videos, produced by well-intentioned but ill-informed individuals, show the use of horribly abrasive products such as Nevr-Dull, toothpaste, or baking soda.

Some advocate the use of the toxic product Tarn-X, which will remove factory-applied patinas, and will actually promote the formation of tarnish.

The aluminum foil technique (in which the user is encouraged to soak silver in water containing baking soda and a piece of aluminum foil) allows tarnish to form quickly.

Also, many videos say that it’s okay to put silver in your dishwasher – that’s not true!

Please take time to read my Silver Care Guide online at http://hermansilver.com/care.htm. ?

Jeffrey Herman encourages anyone with silver-related questions that can’t be answered on his Web site hermansilver.com to contact him. He may be reached at 800-339-0417or jeff@hermansilver.com or at PO Box 786, West Warwick, RI 02893.

Jeffrey Herman started Herman Silver Restoration & Conservation in 1984, and has repaired and reconstructed everything from historically important tankards, tea services, and tureens to disposal-damaged flatware. Herman has worked at Gorham as a designer, sample maker, and technical illustrator and at Pilz Ltd., where he learned the fine art of restoration. Herman has a BFA degree in silversmithing and is the founder of the Society of American Silversmiths.


Great books, CDs, price guides & more

Warman’s Antiques & Collectibles 2011 Price Guide

Interact with other antique collectors in Antique Trader’s online forum

Get up-to-date pricing for tens of thousands of antiques & collectibles on Collect.com – FREE for 1 year – when you join the Collecting Insider Club!

Browse hundreds of FREE online classified ads

Sign up for your FREE AntiqueTrader.com email newsletter

For more columns and features for antique dealers, restorers and collectors, get your own subscription to Antique Trader magazine