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Jan 12, 2007 03:58 PM

Silver plated flatware

My uncle gave us a set for our wedding that used to belong to my grandmother. For years we kept them in a box in a closet but recently I decided we should start using them for every day use.

The problem is, now the plating seems to be flaking off! Especially off the forks and spoons -- we see it and most certainly must be ingesting it.

Any suggestions for a remedy? Will they need to be shelved again for the rest of our lives??

Thanks for your help!

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  1. It should not flake off. The way silver is plated is not conducive to flaking. It will wear off with use and a lot of rubbing and wear, but ingesting silver will not harm you. In some cuisines in elaborate meals silver leaf and gold leaf are used as garnishes. I'd suggest that you wash it all very well and then get out some silver polish, Haggerty's is good, and polish it well.

    Years ago some companies laquered silverplated holloware, not flatware to prevent tarnish and that would flake off with use. I cannot imagine it being done to flatware. You might try cleaning a particularly flaky piece with acetone (nail polish remover)

    1. Hi Candy,

      Thanks for your reply. Do you think maybe they lacquered it? Could it be the lacquer is flaking? We see little shiny flakes that look like glitter... I do try to polish it, perhaps not as often as I should but still.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sethnanyc

        That sounds really weird. I was in the table top business for a long time and have never encountered anything like that. Who is the maker?The mfg. name should be on the backs of the spoons and forks.

      2. They say:

        "Staybrite 18/nickel E.T.C
        Rustless Nickel Silver"

        1. Usually electroplated nickle silver was marked EPNS. There is a bunch of Watson Bros.Staybrite on E-bay. I think I would consult with an antiques dealer who specializes in flatware. There are plenty around. The company dates back to about 1900-1940. What you are describing has me baffled. If it were an annealed product like old Sheffield plate it is possible that the silver might flake, in the old Sheffield, before electroplating was invented the base metal would be copper and the silver was a sheet of silver that was bonded to the copper base by rolling and heating. When electroplate came in the item to be plated, wusually a white metal base like nickel silver was placed in a vat with bars of silver and then was electrically charged and the silver would transfer to the pieces.(That is a very simplified explanation of the process) Flaking and peeling would not happen. It would just eventually wear off.

          This is a new one for me. Sorry I can't really help you but do consult an antiques flatware dealer.

          1. What you're describing sounds like lacquer to me, but I suspect it was post-factory. I would be looking to figure out how to get it off w/o harming the silverplate ... I would think ingesting silver would be a lot better for you than lacquer, esp old lacquer ;)

            1 Reply
            1. re: foiegras

              Well nail polish remover can remove the lacquer. I am just puzzled. As I said I worked in the table top business a long time not only as a salesperson, but buyer and silver appraiser. I have never seen the like! The acetone will not harm the plate but a good polishing will be needed afterwards. Try cleaning one piece by soaking in plain nail polish remover and see what happens.