I have a deep love for Silver. As a child, I was often forced into service to polish the Silver before Christmas Dinner. I would spend the best part of a day the week before the big event with an apron on, rubber gloves and a toothbrush scrubbing with Goddard's Silver Polish at my parent's cutlery and candlesticks. It was completely tedious, but deeply satisfying to see the pieces gleam after the tarnish had been buffed away.

I have a small amount of silver. We have been very fortunate to be given a Sterling Silver cutlery setting for 12 by my In Laws for our Wedding present (which sadly hasn't been used for three years due to the ongoing renovations). One little curiosity that I bought a few years ago at the Strathalbyn Antique Fair  is this little set of sandwich picks. It is hallmarked and dates from the early 1920's. I have imagined a story behind it, and thought it was probably the sort of item that was a wedding gift, with the gift giver thinking it would have been very useful for all the bridge days the bride would host.

It's a real time capsule of that period. The little flags have interchangeable Bakelite inserts with pre-printed sandwich fillings in them (and a few spare to write your own on). There are Tongue, Tomato & Cheese, Cucumber, Anchovy and Smoked Salmon, to name a few, but no chicken. My Grandmother told me that chicken was a bit of a delicacy (chickens being for laying eggs, not eating in large quantities), and so wasn't commonly eaten back then.


 And here is a close up of the Victorian Silver Posy holder that I carried on my wedding day and wrote about here. It has grasshoppers and fern leaves up the side. It's very sweet. The little pin goes through the flowers to secure them.


After all those years of manual labour, I have a deep hatred for tarnished silver. There are a few things that I loath in my house. I am happy to let other things slide (such as the ironing), but a couple (unmade beds and dirty windows being two at the top of the list) I won't tolerate. Especially after I found the easy way to clean silver (I think it may have been via Martha Stewart around 15 years ago, but I'm not sure). So, I'm going to share this technique with all of you so that there can be no tarnished Silver, either Plate or Sterling around your house this Christmas. 

Firstly, take a very large saucepan - the biggest and widest that you have. Get a large piece of Aluminium foil and line the inside of the pan with it. Fill the pan with water and put it on the stove to get it up to a high simmer/ low boil. 



Then, using tongs, put a few pieces of silver in, and sprinkle quite heavily some Bicarbonate of Soda into and over it. You'll see it fizz initially, then the water will clear. Leave the silver in the pan for a minute or two, then remove it and polish it up immediately with a clean tea towel (this will remove any remaining tarnish). If it's heavily tarnished, you might need to redo it, or leave it in the water for longer.



The aluminium foil and the bicarb have a chemical reaction with the tarnish on the silver, and lift it off. It leaves all the silver on the piece (unlike a traditional silver polish which will take silver with it), and is perfectly safe. When you've finished cleaning, you tip the fairly stinky tarnish water down the sink, put the aluminium foil in the recycling bin, and you're done. Chemical free and easy.

And here is the before and after: A motley collection of silver plate trays (in terrible condition), a Sterling letter opener, my match strike and the Sterling Christening Cup (Mr AV's) that we use as a pen pot and a Sterling pill container.

Before
After - all shiny

What can you not abide in your house?



Photobucket

24 comments:

  1. I'm ashamed to admit that I'm not a very good when it comes to housework....my childhood was spent at boarding school so I still consider an unmade bed an act of defiance against authority....although who's now I'm not sure! Luckily I have a fab cleaner who comes thrice a week and does an amazing job while I tend to focus my energies outside on the garden. She gets rid of snozzle and fingerprints on the bye bye window, dribbles on the kitchen cabinets and dog fur from everywhere.....and she makes all of the beds.....she has her work cut out for her as I don't even tidy in preparation.
    All of my silver is stashed away in a top cupboard.....I'm going to try your cleaning tip...although maybe not today! Rx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not tidying in preparation would be bliss. And three times a week!! Lucky you! My cleaners left me a note yesterday to say they wouldn't be coming next week, and I actually felt like I was having a holiday. Tuesday mornings are a frenzy of tidying and putting away in preparation for their 9.15am arrival. It's quite stressful..... Try the silver cleaning technique - it's the lazy person's ideal way to polish xx

      Delete
  2. OMG this is LIFE CHANGING!! I spent a whole day before Christmas with the step kids last year up to our elbows in silvo cleaning 2 giant French candelabras and all the silver (old French stuff that Mr FF bought that was FILTHY) and it was so painful. Never again.

    I have learned to tolerate filthy windows but this weekend maybe I will clean them. It makes me so happy once it is done.

    Love your sandwich pins and your posey holder too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really is life changing!!! I do little batches now as I see they need it, whereas I used to save it all up because it was so tedious. Good for the Kids to do too, as it looks like magic when it goes in dirty and comes out clean. xx

      Delete
  3. I know it doesn't make me a very exciting person but I am seriously excited about this revelation! I can't wait to finish work and get stuck in, I wont sleep tonight until everything has been dipped. Can it really be this easy? I have some pewter things that are basically black that I am going to get involved in the process too. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is easy! Enjoy, it's like magic. You'll have to report back on whether it works with the pewter too, I haven't tried that one. xx

      Delete
  4. How cute are those sandwich picks!

    Gotta love the Bi-carb magic! I use it all the time, for cleaning. Mainly with vinegar though...

    B

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are cute, aren't they. I just couldn't leave them at the stall at the antique fair. Once the reno is finished, I'll throw a tea party (although I think I'll avoid the tongue sandwiches). xx

      Delete
  5. I agree with FF. Life changing. I too have spent the days in the lead up to Christmas trying to polish way too much family silver as well as prepare for the huge lunch. So excited I may even clean some today. Sad but true.

    Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's too funny - I'm just imagining everyone desperate to polish their silver tonight, and their families wondering what on earth has got into them!! Hope you enjoy. xx

      Delete
    2. Hope you don't mind Heidi but I linked to this post. Too good not to share. For the sake of housewives and cleaners everywhere i hope it goes viral....!

      Delete
    3. Thank you so much! I thought it might be timely information given that Christmas is only 7 weeks away. Hope it saves everyone some hard work. xx

      Delete
  6. I love the little sandwich picks! But a match strike is something I've never even heard of, much less seen.
    I don't have much silver, a couple of teaspoons left from a set of six and they are used daily, so never get tarnished.
    Everything else is stainless steel, there's no polishing going on here.
    Well, glasses. I hate seeing streaks, smudges and spots on drinking glasses, so I shine them up while I'm drying them.
    I remember when chicken was a luxury saved for the Christmas dinner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The match strike is more common in England, where I bought it. You need non-safety matches for it (which are not sold in Australia, so I smuggle them in) as it has a bumpy line in the glass down one side to run the match against to light it. The matches go in the hole in the top. I like a streak free glass too - one thing I do hate is a chipped glass. Ours always seem to be getting chips due to the children and it drives me crazy! xx

      Delete
  7. I love silver too and use the same method to clean mine! My favourite wedding present was a set of 6 teaspoons and a pair if sugar cube tongs from a deceased estate, given to me by the school I was teaching at, only a few years a some of the spoons went missing (courtesy of some small children), I have found and reclaimed all but one,:( but I still live in hope that it may turn up one day intact and not after it has been run over by the lawn mower!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you do find that spoon one day Deanne - Children are so destructive, aren't they?! I'm sure with your new business as well you are liberating many spoons from a layer of tarnish. x

      Delete
  8. Great post. I used to love polishing silver and make old things look beautiful again. It's very satisfying. Much like renovating a house!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is satisfying. The current trend for tarnished silver (very shabby chic) has passed me by. I couldn't stand living with it if it wasn't a little bit shiny! x

      Delete
  9. Thanks Heidi!
    I have some silver plated teapots that seriously need help. Does this work on the insides of them too (I don't think they would be silver inside )or do you have a tip for that? Someone suggested a denture tablet...!
    I am enjoying your blog-I have an old villa too and am enjoying the inspiration.
    Cheers, Renie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Renie, I think unless you have a Sterling Silver teapot (ie solid silver) it wouldn't work on the inside. I have an old silver plate teapot that I cleaned up last time, and the inside didn't come up any cleaner only the outside. A denture tablet may well work....I'll have to try it. x

      Delete
  10. How extraordinary the sandwich markers are! Quite a treasure to have. Tongue sandwich, yum, yum. Can imagine them being the first to disappear these days...

    With the silver cleaning, I had recently discovered this method too, but was chatting to a fellow in an antiques shop afterwards and he said it actually damages the silver over time, recommending that the proper silver polish is really the only solution.

    So have gone back to the old method of "well I like the tarnished look, it has character". (Actually, I really do like the tarnished look - lovely patterning.)

    Have just spent far too long perusing your wonderful stories on your blog (should be working on a new house design so I am very naughty) because your stories are all so familiar, having also grown up in Adelaide, lived in London and now in Melbourne. Small world. Your house is the quintessential Adelaide one - bluestone, white cast iron lace, deep verandah. So elegant. Looks like Unley Park or thereabouts. And the sad loss of your mother - oh, my heart goes out to you. But good that you moved back to get a chance to spend time with her first.

    Happy to tag along to see where your next story goes!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Glamour Drops, I only just discovered your lovely blog (I was using google images to find a photo of the typical Melbourne grey render on Victorian houses, and up came your blog!). I'm now working my way back - how funny that we've had parallel lives.
      Definitely no tongue sandwiches on the menu in the future. I tried tongue once as a child, and remember well the texture of taste buds. Ick.
      That's strange re the man in the antique shop & the silver being damaged - I did a google search, and it didn't come up as being a problem, more that the chemical ones take the silver with them....guess nothings perfect?
      Thanks for dropping in xx

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Search This Blog

About Me

My photo
Architect & Interior Designer. Mother of three. A sometimes Cook, Baker, Reader, Gardener, Fashion Lover, Renovator, Writer of random things in South Australia email me on anadelaidevilla@bigpond.com
Powered by Blogger.

Follow by Email

Follow this blog with bloglovin

Follow on Bloglovin

Followers

Things to read....

.