I spent much of the weekend polishing silver plate for our Etsy shop. In doing so, I thought it was a good time to show how I polish silver plate and, in particular, silver plate flatware. I picked a great set to show you because it needed sooooo much polishing. This set is Community Plate and is the Evening Star pattern. This pattern was produced from 1950-1961. Some shops offer unpolished flatware. One of the reasons I polish our flatware is to bring the pieces back to life and to show them as close to their original condition as possible. I just love pieces that are shiny and bright after they have had a good polishing. Maybe I was a downstairs maid in a former life in which I was in charge of polishing.
I started out with 28 pieces of flatware. I wondered if I was going to be able to save any of these pieces as they were very tarnished. At least, I hoped it was just tarnish and not a loss of the silver plate finish.
I like to polish on an old beach towel that I fold in half. The double layer helps because I can get more leverage by pushing into the towel.
I use Wright's Silver Polish. They don't pay me to say this (although it would be nice if they did because I really do use it). I have tried other brands, but I always come back to this one for a couple of reasons. First, I like the paste versus a liquid polish. It just seems to work better for me and, I admit it, most of the time I don't want to wait for the polish to set before I start polishing when I am doing a light polishing. Second, it is available at the grocery store Mr M and I are at once or twice a week. Hey, anything I can do to save time works for me. Third, I just find that it works best. I do have to admit that I don't take a great deal of time trying other products so if you have something that you think works better, that is fine.
The first thing I do is put the polish on one side of every piece. By the time I get to the last piece, the first piece is ready to turn over to do the other side.
Next, I turn the pieces over as I go and I polish the other side. Again, by the time I get to the end, the first ones are ready to be polished.
Next, I start at the beginning and polish both sides of each piece with the sponge that comes with the polish (I keep the sponge slightly damp). You can see the tarnish coming off on the sponge (that's the black stuff). I have to wash out the sponge every few pieces because it gets pretty dirty. You can tell by the sponge that I take the polishing seriously. The tines of the forks tend to get stuck in the sponge so I use the towel to hold the tines in the towel as I polish so I don't poke holes in the sponge. As you can see, it doesn't always work. I use the surfaces all over the kitchen as I polish different pieces. I will try to show you that in the future as I polish other types of silver and silver plate besides flatware.
As I polish, I take them to the sink as I finish a few pieces to rinse off the polish and then I put them in the sink with some dish soap to wash them off. After all of the pieces are washed, I examine them to determine if any pieces need another polishing or if any pieces are not worth a second polishing because of significant damage. Before I start the second polishing, I fold the beach towel so the polish that is left on the towel is in the center and a clean part of the towel is on top. The pieces above all needed another polishing on the handles because of the very detailed crevices in this really pretty floral pattern. The third photo shows the pieces that I determined were too far gone to polish again. You can see that the piece on the left has lost the majority of its silver. The other two have significant wear near the tines and on the back of the fork.
The photo on the left above is the end product of all of the polishing. I then go through and do another examination to check the condition of the flatware. The pieces on the right were the only ones I felt were nice enough to put in our shop. Out of 28 pieces, we ended up with 17 pieces. They are not perfect, but this pattern was first produced in 1898 so some wear is consistent with their age.
This is a great way to add to your vintage flatware collection or just add or replace your existing sets. You can find full sets as well at garage sales, flea markets, thrift stores, auctions, etc. I hope this has helped you. Let me know if you have any questions.