If you are lucky enough to own vintage silverware, or lucky enough to find some at a thrift store or garage sale you should treasure it and most of all – use it! These pretty pieces do no one any good sitting in a drawer, forgotten about.
I was inspired to bring mine out of hiding this year when I rented an Air B&B apartment in Amsterdam. Sarah, the lovely girl I rented from used vintage silverware everyday, it was the only set she had. Boy did I feel fancy eating all my meals with her beautiful cutlery.
Because I can’t put my vintage silverplate cutlery in the dishwasher I don’t use it every day. Instead, I split up my set and have one half in our trailer (glamping at it’s finest), and one half for dinners when people come over, or when we are feeling fancy during brunch on weekends.
Keep your eyes open for vintage silverplate or silver (jackpot) serving spoons or cutlery at your local thrift store, one of the best finds you can come across and so easy to restore.
If you do have some that you’ve just purchased – congratulations! Or – if you have decided to take yours out and let it see the light of day – nicely done! Now it’s time to polish those babies up and start using them.
How to Clean Vintage Silverware
You will want to figure out if your silverware is stainless steal, silverplated, silver, or a mixture of these. This you can figure out by reading the tiny stamps on the backs of the pieces of cutlery (usually the forks). For fun, you can google the name of the maker too to see how old the piece is and what the design is called.
Once you find out what you are working with you will want to select a method of cleaning.
1. You can use a chemical polish like Silvo which is what I was using before I started doing some research about natural cleaners. The tins cost around $8 and do a good job, however it is a chemical and you have to be careful not to get this stuff on your skin (aka you will also have to wash this really well after you use it). To use it simply have a soft cloth ready and place a small amount of Silvo onto your cloth, then rub repeatedly over every inch of the silver piece of cutlery. You will see the tarnsih coming off on your cloth as you go, it is a very satisfying feeling!
2. You can use natural toothpaste (Toms, Nature’s Gate etc) to polish your silverware. Place some on a soft cloth as described above and work away at it with some elbow grease, you should see the tarnish coming off nicely.
3. Put silverware into an aluminum pan (this must be aluminum as another type of metal can have a negative reaction with the silver). Sprinkle with baking soda, generously. Pour boiling water over the silveware until everything is covered. Let sit until the tarnish disspears. Remove silverware.
After you have removed the tarnish wash pieces with a gentle soap and rinse well. Then buff each piece of silverware dry with a soft cloth until there is no moisture left on the piece. Voila! Enjoy your sparkling treasures.
To store, do not mix metals with one another. Keep your silverware separate from stainless steal and vice versa. Put a piece of chalk in the drawer or cabinet where you are keeping your pieces. This will absorb moisture in the air which causes silver to tarnish.
This pretty pattern is available at The French 75 store here as a romantic set for two, perfect for a vintage Valentine’s Day meal.
Remember: the more you use silverware the less it tarnishes, so enjoy your pieces and use them as often as you can.