Can I restore this silver plated flatware?
Please view the attached photos.
Today I came across 28 pieces of silver plated flatware that is in pretty rough shape. I would like to restore them to look perfectly shiny and new, but I do not know if they are beyond salvageable.
The picture of the two spoons shows an example of a few pieces that are in the best condition. You can see in the other pictures the pieces have a dark tarnish with streaks and splotching. There are rust spots on some and in the big ladle you can see green discoloration of some sort (but I don't know what that is).
I moderately familiar with sticking silver in boiling water with aluminum foil, baking soda and salt to remove tarnish, but given the state of these items will that be enough? Is there any hope to get these looking great again?
I'd appreciate any insight!
Based on your photographs, I'm not convinced that all of what you have is silverplate. The "fiddle back" pieces, particularly the bottom spoon in the two spoon photo, look old enough to be coin silver, as opposed to sterling or plate. I have a couple of such spoons that were my great great grandmother's, and they are a bitch to polish!
If all of this silver were mine, the first thing I would do with MOST (but maybe not all) of it is to buy a nice big bottle of Tarn-X and follow the directions for cleaning silver. Yes, the aluminum foil and baking soda/salt trick is similar, but not nearly as effective in my experience. Tarn-X also makes a really good "after using" cream that refines the polished look AND retards/delays future tarnishing. DO NOT use Tarn-X on old coin silver flatware! It can come out of the Tarn-X bath/rub looking more like copper or bronze than it will look like silver simply because of the "recipe" that was used for that particular coin silver formulation. Once that happens, you may have a devil of a time ever getting it to look like silver again.
Every piece you have should have hallmarks on the back of their handles, including any ancient or European pieces in your mix. A web search will often bring information on your particular hallmarks.
I haven't investigated the price of replating in years, but it is no more difficult than retinning the inside of a copper saucepan, so that means you will find a WIDE range of prices. The only real problem with replating or using Tarn-X on dimensional patterns on the handles of silverplate flatware or holloware is that it WILL remove the intentionally tarnished crevices of the pattern applied by the manufacturer to dramatize depth and accent the sculptured look. But this will eventually return if you revert to polishing it with standard paste type silver polish applied with a cloth and elbow grease.
One last thought. If you're looking to replate so you can restore it to daily use, once you get a quote for the cost of replating, if that cost is a bit steep, you should also take the time to web browse for the cost of new silverplate. For example, Neiman Marcus has a wide range of prices on silverplated flatware, some of which are damned near as much as sterling and sold by the place setting, to sets of service for four or more at some attractive prices. And it's often possible to beat NM's prices by doing a web search for that pattern/manufacturer.
Here's hoping things work out for you. Good luck!
EDIT" A decade or so ago, a kit for replating silver was on the market and did a half decent job for short term wear. Or maybe I simply didn't leave my bronze candlesticks in the bath long enough? I used it to turn some bronze candlesticks to silver for a Christmas table. Turned out well for the first year! Hey, it was under five bucks!
Octang, you have not provided any hint as to where in the world you are. Re-plating those silver pieces would be an interesting and fairly simple science project at the middle or high school level, if you supplied the very small amount of silver to do it, by example a pre-1964 US quarter, and if you have some inroads to a school system.
These look old. Do you know the maker? It should be stamped on the back of the handles, I think.
I'd have them replated commercially. It may be that the plating company can tell you a bit about them, as well. I'd find a local company if possible. there should be a plater in a sizable city.
It is tricky to research patterns for which you don't have a name. One site I have used is Replacements. But I don't know if there is way to search without a pattern name.
If you can find a pattern name, you can search ebay to see what similar patterns are reselling for. Plated pieces are never as valuable as similar sterling pieces are. But I like the look of your old pieces and I would do some research and I definitely wouldn't try plating myself! Leave that to the experts.
We ate on old silverplate for my entire childhood. By the time my parents bought some stainless to replace them, they were really awful looking. But they were totally better quality than the cheap replacements we then used. These are such pretty shapes. I hope you are able to have them restored.