Whenever I go out shopping, there are a few things I find myself constantly drawn to…things like rusty scales, brown and white transferware, ironstone, baskets, vintage trophies and monogrammed silver. In fact, I love these things so much I almost always buy them when I see them because in this area of the country they’re hard to find.
The tarnish rarely bothers me. I use these pieces around the house to hold teacups,
add interest to bookshelves,
and as part of my summer mantle vignette.
Each piece is a treasure no matter how small.
Recently, I was lucky enough to find three trophies all at different places but within the same week. The varied shapes were awesome but I could barely read the inscription because they were so tarnished.
Now, I don’t know if I would try this at home with my family’s silver but I had nothing to lose by trying to get the tarnish off of these trophies. You’ll need to use your best judgment to decide if you want to try this as well. There are usually silversmiths and qualified craftsmen at reputable jewelry stores that can help you with your heirloom pieces.
I knew I wanted to use something that was natural to remove the tarnish so I could see the names of the recipients and their respective events. I can remember one of my grandmothers using a mix of salt, baking soda, tin foil and hot water to clean silver so I decided to try the same solution for these vintage trophies and it worked like a charm.
The first step is to line your clean sink with tin foil. Make sure the stopper is plugged in so you don’t lose any water.
Next, I added hot water. This is a key element it needs to be near boiling.
After you have hot water in the sink, add salt and baking soda. The amount of baking soda and salt ratio will depend on what you’re actually trying to get the tarnish off of. If you’re doing something small like forks you’ll only need approximately 2 tablespoons of each but if you’re doing something big like a trophy you’ll need approximately ½ cup of baking soda and ½ cup of salt.
Submerge the trophy in the solution making sure the trophy is touching the tin foil and is completely covered by the hot water. Some of my pieces took about 15 minutes and others took about 30 minutes.
You should start to see bits of tarnish swimming around in the water.
Depending on the condition of the trophy, the tarnish may not all come off. You can make a paste with baking soda and a bit of hot water to try and spot treat if needed. Here’s another trophy from my collection for a quick before and after reference.
These turned out really nice because they still have bits of patina but I can also see the years the trophies were given out and the names of the recipients.
’51, ’70 and ’74 must have been exciting years for these guys.