Antique Silver (see also Plating)

Coat the polished silver articles with a thin paste of powdered graphite, 6 parts; powdered bloodstone, 1 part; and oil of turpentine. After the drying take off the superfluous powder with a soft brush and rub the raised portions bright with a linen rag dipped in spirit. By treatment with various sulphides an old appearance is likewise imparted to silver. If, for example, a solution of 5 parts of liver of sulphur and 10 parts of ammonium carbonate are heated in 1 quart of distilled water to 180° F., placing the silver articles therein, the latter first turn pale gray, then dark gray, and finally assume a deep black-blue. In the case of plated ware, the silvering must not be too thin; in the case of thick silver plating or solid silver 1 quart of water is sufficient. The colors will then appear more quickly. If the coloring is spotted or otherwise imperfect dip the objects into a warm potassium cyanide solution, whereby the silver sulphide formed is immediately dissolved. Tne bath must be renewed after a while. Silver containing much copper is subjected, previous to the coloring, to a blanching process, which is accomplished in a boiling solution of 15 parts of powdered tartar and 30 parts of cooking salt in 2 pints of water. Objects which are to be mat are coated with a paste of potash and water after the blanching, then dry, anneal, cool in water, and boil again.

Imitation of Antique Silver

Plated articles may be colored to resemble old objects of art made of solid silver. For this purpose the deep-lying parts, those not exposed to friction, are provided with a blackish, earthy coating, the prominent parts retaining a leaden but bright color. The process is simple. A thin paste is made of finely powdered graphite and oil of turpentine (a little bloodstone or red ocher may be added, to imitate the copper tinge in articles of old silver) and spread over the whole of the previously plated article. It is then allowed to dry, and the particles not adhering to the surface removed with a soft brush. The black coating should then be carefully wiped off the exposed parts by means of a linen rag dipped in alcohol. This process is very effective in making imitations of objects of antique art, such as goblets, candlesticks, vessels of every description, statues, etc. If it is desired to restore the original brightness to the object, this can be done by washing with caustic soda or a solution of cyanide of potassium. Benzine can also be used for this purpose.

Blanching Silver


Mix powdered charcoal, 3 parts, and calcined borax, 1 part, and stir with water so as to make a homogeneous paste. Apply this paste on the pieces to be blanched. Put the pieces on a charcoal fire, taking care to cover them up well; when they have acquired a cherry red, withdraw them from the fire and leave to cool off. Next place them in a hot bath composed of 9 parts of water and 1 part of sulphuric acid, without causing the bath to boil. Leave the articles in for about 1 hour. Remove them, rinse in clean water, and dry.


If the coat of tarnish on the surface of the silver is but light and superficial, it suffices to rub the piece well with green soap to wash it thoroughly in hot water; then dry it in hot sawdust and pass it through alcohol, finally rubbing with a fine cloth or brush. Should the coat resist this treatment, brush with Spanish white, then wash, dry, and pass through alcohol. The employment of Spanish white has the drawback of shining the silver if the application is strong and prolonged. If the oxidation has withstood these means and if it is desired to impart to the chain the handsome mat appearance of new goods, it should be annealed in charcoal dust and passed through vitriol, but this operation, for those unused to it, is very dangerous to the soldering and consequently may spoil the piece.

Coloring Silver

A rich gold tint may be imparted to silver articles by plunging them into dilute sulphuric acid, saturated with iron rust.