I am thrilled with this week’s auction haul. Maidens & Foster had a good estate showing this week and I left a long list of absentee bids. Although I didn’t get my number 1 item – a lovely big Winchcombe pottery jug – I did get numbers 2 and 3 on the list, so the going was good.
Number 3 on the list was a lovely almost pair of early Nineteenth century rummers in a large box lot of glasses in which there were few other surprises – a couple of thumb nail cut sherry glasses I don’t need, I’ve kept but the rest has gone off to charity.
Number 2 on the list was a very black looking tea set, consisting on a handsomely proportioned tea pot, a matching tall coffee pot and milk and sugar.
Now there is old worn out plate to be found in any sale. Silver, electroplated silver, is not much sought after because no one wants to polish it and it has gone from vogue as a dinner table item. The other problem is most of what you see are cheaply plated, or even one time quality items, that have been over polished and aren’t worth replating. Tradition says worn Sheffield plate, where copper shows through, is ok – but ordinary plating just looks worn and tired if there is a view through to a patch of nickel.
What was interesting about the items on the tea set is that they were totally black. This is a good sign that they were either solid silver or that the surface of the plate was intact. Infuriatingly there were no markings of any description to indicate the origin of the pieces or the material from which they were made.
I don’t need a tea service but I told myself it would go very cheap (it did) and that polished up it would make a great expensive looking present (it would).
When I got it home I sat out on the back step with some old pieces of toweling and a tin of Brasso. If you’re polishing from black there is no point starting with a silver polish – shift the black with a good brass polish and finesse it later with a proper silver polish or silver cloth. Rinse the whole lot in hot soapy water and buff it up with a clean cloth.
The tea pot did not disappoint, the silver came up solid and intact over the whole surface and even revealed an elegant engraved letter ‘M’. One by one the other pieces proved themselves as in superb condition and sat glinting in the late sun. I thought to myself how pleasant polishing silver really is, how satisfying the results were, how nice these will look on the dinner table. How many nice silver pieces sit out there unloved – awaiting someone with an hour or so to spare to bring them back to life?