Empire Antique

Empire Antiques
278 Monmouth Street
Hightstown, New Jersey 08520
609-426-0820 • Fax 609-426-8850
Toll Free 800-626-4969

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Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints - How to Care for Your Antiques

Antiques deserve special care. Below are a collection of helpful hints to help you maintain your special items.
Call us anytime for advice about preserving your items.

How to Clean Crystal Chandeliers

You will probably not need to clean your chandeliers more than once a year.

Before taking apart your fixture, make a diagram of where all the removable parts belong. Taking digital camera pictures of each step in another way to help you reassemble the cleaned chandelier more easily.

Dust the chandelier. This can be done with a soft flannel cotton cloth. A hairdryer turned on cooled with a low velocity will easily blow dust off of crystal chandeliers.
Never clean a chandelier with the lights turned on. Place padding, such as a comforter, under your work area to catch any pieces that fall, hopefully to prevent breakage.
Do not twirl the chandelier, move around it to clean each area..
Remove all pieces, place in a plastic container. Use hot water and a mild detergent. (Vinegar and ammonia can also be used. They produce a great sparkle, but can darken the pinning.) Take each piece and place in a plastic sieve. Rinse under hot water.
Wipe the light bulbs with a soft clean flannel cotton cloth.
If a chandelier is cleaned in the winter, the warm air helps the pieces to air dry faster. Please the rinsed pieces on a soft cotton flannel cloth to air dry.
On a soft cotton flannel cloth, spray any commercial glass cleaner. Use this to clean the body of an all crystal chandelier. Do not spray the glass cleaner on the crystal.
Return all pieces to the chandelier, working from the inside out.
If the body is brass or another metal, do not use metal polish. Just use a soft flannel cotton cloth to dust.

How to Care for Fine Wood Furniture

It is important to identify the type of wood and the treatment that was used on the wood. Using the incorrect product can damage the wood. Finishes can hard such as lacquer, shellac, varnish or soft, which is oiled.

How to Clean Wood Furniture

Wipe oiled furniture daily with a soft cloth, like ones made from old flannel pajamas.
Furniture can also be vacuumed using the brush attachment. This is especially effective when the wood is intricately carved.

How to Polish Wood Furniture

Certain furniture oils work best on specific woods. Lemon Oil works best on light woods, like maple or light oak. Red Oil beautifies cherry wood. Old English Oil gives a rich glow to mahogany. Liquid Gold can be used with wonderful results on all wood furniture.
Paste wax fills scratches and only needs to be used twice yearly. Do not use oil over paste wax as a gummy surface may be the result.
Liquid polish needs to be applied more frequently – four to six times a year. It can be applied, after dusting, with a soft flannel cotton cloth.
Aerosol polish is easiest to apply. It can be used after dusting. Apply sparingly and rub in gently with a flannel cotton cloth.

What is French Polishing

From Wikipedia

French Polishing is a wood finishing technique (and not a substance), as commonly furniture that results in a very high gloss, deep colour and tough surface. It consists of applying many thin coats of shellac using a rubbing pad. The rubbing pad is made up of wadding inside a square piece of cotton and is referred to as a fad.

The process is lengthy and very repetitive. The finish is obtained through a specific combination of different rubbing motions (generally circles and figure-eights), waiting for considerable time, building up layers of polish and then spiriting off any streaks left in the surface.

The 'fad' is commonly lubricated with an oil which is integrated into the overall finish. This helps to prevent the 'fad' from lifting previously applied layers of shellac. Which particular oil is used greatly influences the overall finish. Typically, "softer" oils, such as mineral oil, will produce a glossier and less durable finish whereas "harder" oils, such as walnut oil, will produce a more durable finish.

In the Victorian era, French polishing was commonly used on mahogany and other expensive woods, and was considered to give the best possible finish to exclusive furniture.However, it was very labour intensive and many major manufacturers abandoned the technique around 1930.. Another reason it fell from favour is its tendency to melt under low heat; for example, hot cups can leave marks on it. French polish is far more forgiving than any other finish in the sense that unlike lacquers, it can be efficiently repaired.

How to Preserve Wood Furniture

Excessive temperatures and humidity can damage wood furniture.
Do not expose furniture to direct sunlight as it may change the color of the wood.
Any spills should be wiped up immediately to prevent spotting damage.
Use mats or pads under any glassware, crystal, dinnerware, etc. Do not use rubber or plastic on natural wood finishes as they will damage the finish.
Use felt under vases, figurines, and other items set on top of finished furniture tops to prevent scratching.

How to Care for Sterling Silver and Silverplate

There are several methods to clean sterling silver and silverplate. We like the two describe below as neither of them uses abrasives which could cause scratching or the loss of silver.

The most common and gentle method is by washing.

Wash and dry silver by hand. Use plastic gloves.
Use the hottest water you can stand.
Do not use the dishwasher to wash your silver. Avoid using soaps containing phosphates (check the label), bleach or dishwasher soap.
Use a terrycloth cotton washcloth to initially wash the silver. Do not use Teflon sponges, Brillo pads or abrasive sponges.
Wash silver separately from other metallic items. If you have a stainless steel sink, use a glass or plastic wash basin to avoid scratching.
Rinse with the hottest water you can stand. Air dry on a terry cloth cotton towel.

Another method is by a chemical reaction method.

This method is particularly good for highly detailed or etched items that have tarnish in the cervices.
Gently wash silver as described above.
Use an Aluminum pan or a large wide plastic container. Boil enough water to fill the container. If using a plastic container, line the bottom with aluminum foil, shiny side up.
Ser the items to be cleaned on the aluminum foil. Do not have them touching each other, only the aluminum foil. Pour boiling water over the silver until covered, then sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of baking soda.
Soak the silver for approximately 15 minutes. Do not disturb.
Pour the water out of the container. Rinse the silver well with hot water and dry with a flannel cloth.
NEVER clean your silver by putting them in the dishwasher.

Frequent polishing of silver plated items may wear down the silver finish, leaving the base metal exposed. The best way to avoid tarnish is to use the item. You don’t want to remove all the patina from silver. Buyers prefer a piece that shows a bit of age.

Do not wash silver items while wearing rubber gloves. Plastic gloves are a good substitute. Do not leave silver on rubber mats to dry. Rubber is quite corrosive to silver and will leave tarnish marks.
Make sure that the silver is clean before applying polish. Use a clean cotton flannel cloth to remove dust which can be abrasive and scratch the surface.
Place the silver on a soft cotton towel.
Use a flannel cotton cloth (flannel pajama strips work just fine) to apply a non-abrasive commercial silver polish. Goddard’s, Gorham’s and Wright’s are examples of good polishes that are readily available.
Apply the polish with gentle circular motion. You can use a Q-tip to reach into intricate areas. When the piece looks clean and shiny, stop polishing as further polishing will just remove silver from the item. Buff with a flannel cotton cloth.
Thoroughly rinse the silver, making sure that all polish is removed, in the hottest water you can stand. Air dry on a soft terrycloth cotton towel.
Storing Sterling Silver and Silverplate:

The ideal level of humidity for storing and displaying silver is 45-50%. Keep silver out of unusually damp areas such as basements, garages and attics.
When displaying silver in a closed cabinet or breakfront, camphor blocks can be added. Do not let them touch the silver pieces. 3M Protector Strips can be purchased from jewelers or department stores and work well in a closed environment.
NEVER store silver pieces in plastic bags without first wrapping them in an old cloth pillowcase. Then, seal them in plastic to reduce tarnish.
Do not use newspaper, wool, felt or leather to store silver. It can cause excessive tarnishing which will be difficult to remove. This is especially important with silverplate, as it is quite expensive to replate an item.
Do not store silver near a heat source. This can cause condensation on the bagged silver and will tarnish them.
Do not store silver on rubber, or near other metal items. Use all silver items as often as possible and wash them by hand to prevent tarnishing.
Cleaning silver cutlery right away after eating using hot water helps to reduce tarnishing. Foods containing eggs, salt, vinegar (like mustard or mayonnaise) and lemon and other citrus goods, will turn silver green. A barrier of wax paper or a doily will help to prevent this chemical reaction.