This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
At the sale of a collection of old plate, which took place a few days ago at a country house in Bedfordshire, the extraordinary price of eighty-six shillings per ounce was paid for a pair of old English sconces, date 1718. Nearly as much was obtained for a true Queen Anne loving cup, with double handles and cover, dated 1713. A quaint old heater, with grid-iron, dated 1679, realized no less than sixty-six pounds. It is clear that the prevailing "depression" does not in the least affect the current value of objects of art, if they are really of genuine merit. The Royal Plate, which is probably the finest in the world, is usually kept in two strong-rooms at Windsor Castle, and is valued at two millions sterling. The gold service, which was purchased by George IV from Rundell and Bridge, dines one hundred and thirty persons; and the silver wine-cooler, which he bought about the same time, holds two men, who could sit in it comfortably. It is enclosed with plate-glass, and is splendidly "chased".
The best Paris whiting (perfectly clean and free from grit), moistened with spirit or water until about the consistency of cream, should be smeared on the article and lightly rubbed'off with a soft chamois or wash-leather. The ornamental parts, where it cannot be rubbed off, brush briskly when dry. Polish with a rouged leather (a little rouge should be placed on the leather from time to time, not on the article); afterwards rinse with hot water, in which a little soap has been dissolved, and carefully wipe quite dry with a clean leather.
Use only whiting and spirit, no rouge.
Wipe only with a rouged leather; if badly tarnished, moisten with a little spirit. Leathers for cleaning plate should be kept dry. When a leather is washed, it should be rinsed in a weak solution of soap and water (water alone would make it hard);and when dry,pulled and rubbed till it becomes perfectly soft. Plate after use should, if necessary, be washed with hot water and soap, and wiped over with a leather before it is put away. Plate keeps its color longest in a dry place, free from gas and other fumes; and, if cleaned according to above instructions, will last much longer than if cleaned in any other way. In the case of Brittania metal and nickel silver goods (not silver-plated), the plain surface should be cleaned with polishing paste, and the ornamental parts brushed with whiting (as above directed), and finally polished with a leather and dry whiting.