What is Best Cleaner for Black Tarnish on Silver Plate?

twila_2008August 24, 2008

My mother-in-laws silver plate tea serving tray cleaned up well, but the outer rim is still black tarnish. What is the best way to clean it? And, does anyone know why it would turn black when the rest of the tray didn't? I'm really mystified! Thank you for your respones in advance!

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If it is silver plate the outer rim would be likely where the plating has rubbed off. The metal underneath is probably brass. So silver cleaner wonÂt take tarnish off of brass. Most metals are very specific in what will remove the oxide that forms that we call tarnish. (I make metal sculptures and have to have many different formulas to clean up the various metals). Try a non-abrasive copper cleaner, as brass (an alloy) is mostly copper. Apply it with a teeny bit of sponge on just the worn part: I donÂt know if it will affect the already cleaned silver, though I think that will be ok. My favorite for copper or brass is Penny Brite, which is a citric acid based paste. Brasso is commonly available, but I donÂt like it: it stinks and does not work as well.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 1:47PM
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I agree with Linnea, that it's the rim where the plating may wear off, but it's very unlikely that the rim would wear before the center portion of the tray which gets the most use.
And I have only very very rarely seen silver plated over brass,and all that was made in India......more likely it's plated over nickle silver or copper.
Try cleaning it using a liquid polish like International silver polish and a very soft tooth brush.
If a silver tray wears it's usually in the center where you put the coffee pot that will wear away first.
I don,t recommend using a citric acid based cleaner on anything but that which you KNOW is copper.....and not always then....it doesn't leave the nice luster that a solvent based cleaner does.

What's the marki on the back of the tray? EPNS? Or "silver on copper"?
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 2:10PM
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I have a large S/P lazy susan (from the 50's or 60's?) that's treated with some type of anti-tarnish coating & polish doesn't have any effect on it. While the piece doesn't tarnish, it doesn't have the luster of uncoated plate & doesn't clean up as well; in fact, it always looks like it needs a light polish! This is a high quality, copper based piece & I didn't have an inkling that there was any coating on it when I bought it. I suppose it's possible that it was produced with some areas left uncoated & they would definitely tarnish. I believe it has a brand logo that subtly implies that it has this questionable attribute.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2008 at 2:29PM
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Thank you everyone for your responses! The tray, 2 pots and sugar/creamer were all a gift about 30 years ago. I do not know the maker but will look next time I'm there in a few weeks. I do not feel the plating on the rim alone has all been rubbed off at it would be uneven - some plate left on in certain areas. It's not flat, a rolled edge; which is why I felt it may be of a different metal under the plate (so it could be sodered onto the tray). The leg base for one of the coffee pots is affected the same way. Mother-in-law has been very gentle and good to this set all these years. I will look for International Silver polish, and try a brass and/or copper cleaner on a section underside. I may try contacting the company who plated it, if they are still in business. This is not a cheap quality set and I would hate to do it more harm! Again, thank you!!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 9:39PM
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Why not get it replated?

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 9:40AM
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Because you destroy any antique value if you replate a piece....unless the piece is in VERY bad shape....and it's very expensive....close to $1.00 a square inch.
Twila....could that piece possibly be "old sheffield" plate??
If it is that's a whole nother thing, as they say!
Old sheffield is indeed over copper but not electroplated but rather rolled and the copper coated with pure silver and the trim and decorations are often sterling or plated in a different way.
There also was some "stuff" that was chrome plated over copper and the trim on themw as a white metal...nickle silver.
Find out how it's marked.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 3:09PM
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