This section is from the "Henley's Twentieth Century Formulas Recipes Processes" encyclopedia, by Norman W. Henley and others.
The best polish for silverware—that is, the polish that, while it cleans, does not too rapidly abrade the surface—is levigated chalk, either alone or with some vegetable acid, like tartaric, or with alum. The usual metal polishes, such as tripoli (diatomaceous earth), finely ground pumice stone, etc., cut away the surface so rapidly that a few cleanings wear through ordinary plating.
White lead......... 5 parts
Chalk, levigated.... 20 parts
Magnesium carbonate .............. 2 parts
Aluminum oxide. .. . 5 parts
Silica............. 3 parts
Jewelers' rouge..... 2 parts
Each of the ingredients must be reduced to an impalpable powder, mixed carefully, and sifted through silk several times to secure a perfect mixture, and to avoid any possibility of leaving in the powder anything that might scratch the silver or gold surface. This may be left in the powder form, or incorporated with soap, made into a paste with glycerine, or other similar material. The objection to mixtures with vaseline or greasy substances is that after cleaning the object must be scrubbed with soap and water, while with glycerine simple rinsing and running water instantly cleans the object. The following is also a good formula:
Chalk, levigated.... 2 parts
Oil of turpentine.... 4 parts
Stronger ammonia water........... 4 parts
Water............. 10 parts
Mix the ammonia and oil of turpentine by agitation, and rub up the chalk in the mixture. Finally rub in the water gradually or mix by agitation. Three parts each of powdered tartaric acid and chalk with 1 part of powdered alum make a cheap and quick silver cleaning powder.
III.---Mix 2 parts of beech wood ashes with 4/100 of a part of Venetian soap and 2 parts of common salt in 8 parts of rain water. Brush the silver with this, using a pretty stiff brush. A solution of crystallized permanganate of potash is often recommended, or even the spirits of hartshorn, for removing the grayish violet film which forms upon the surface of the silver. Finally, when there are well-determined blemishes upon the surface of the silver, they may be soaked 4 hours in soapmakers' lye, then cover them with finely powdered gypsum which has been previously moistened with vinegar, drying well before a fire; now rub them with something to remove the powder. Finally, they are to be rubbed again with very dry bran.