SMP Logo
SM Publications
Silver Salon Forums - The premier site for discussing Silver.
SMP | Silver Salon Forums | SSF - Guidelines | SSF - FAQ | Silver Sales

The Silver Salon Forums
Since 1993
Over 11,793 threads & 64,769 posts !!
A Curator's Viewpoint Forum
How to Post Photos REGISTER (click here)

customtitle open  SMP Silver Salon Forums
tlineopen  A Curator's Viewpoint
tline3open  Exhibitions - cleaning & polishing

Post New Topic  Post A Reply
profile | register | preferences | faq | search

ForumFriend SSFFriend: Email This Page to Someone! next newest topic | next oldest topic
Author Topic:   Exhibitions - cleaning & polishing
Scott Martin
Forum Master

Posts: 11520
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 05-04-1999 10:42 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
We attend exhibitions of silver collections whenever we can. The institutions hosting these exhibitions have some of the most interesting and wonderful items to see. Although it is great to get an up close look, most often the silver is so very very polished and cleaned it can be a frustrating experience. The silver having been so very polished/cleaned results in the shadowing and detail of the chasing, repousse, bright cutting, engine turning, engraving, etc. being lost to the naked eye. Often when you compare a turn of the century photograph of the same item(s) at exhibition, the 100 year old photo looks better because shadowing and detail is present. Why do institutions today polish and preserve their wonderful silver gifts like this?

Scott & June Martin

IP: Logged

Ulysses Dietz

Posts: 1265
Registered: May 99

iconnumber posted 05-04-1999 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ulysses Dietz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Remember, most silver was originally intended to be eye-dazzling--with the exception of things given a "French grey" finish at the turn of the century, which would have been a softer, less mirror-like luster. However, old photographs of silver in exhibitions usually show silver that was somehow treated with a surface duller in order to eliminate difficult reflections created by camera lighting. Up until the past decade, most silver photography (of which I have witnessed a great deal)took a huge amount of time to eliminate all of the sparkle by virtually encasing a silver piece in a tent of white. Auction houses used to (still do, to a degree) spray a mat finish onto silver when they photographed it for catalogues. So, when you look at an old black and white of silver, you're looking at an artificially created non-reflective surface.

This, of course, doesn't deal with the reality that silver has been polished over its lifetime in human hands, and detail has sometimes been softened--and only when it comes to a museum does that cease, sort of. A museum tries to restrict the amount of cleaning that silver undergoes, and nowadays uses only calcium carbonate powder (chalk) and distilled water to clean it. But, we still want the stuff to sparkle the way it would have been intended to in a domestic setting. Honestly, I'd never thought about the problem that the sparkle creates for people trying to focus on details. Most of the public who come to a museum aren't thinking of that--which is frustrating for curators. Hmmm--I wonder if there's some way to lessen the surface shine of silver to make engraved and chased details more visible?

IP: Logged

All times are ET

next newest topic | next oldest topic

Administrative Options: Close Topic | Archive/Move | Delete Topic
Post New Topic  Post A Reply
Hop to:

Ultimate Bulletin Board 5.46a

1. Public Silver Forums (open Free membership) - anyone with a valid e-mail address may register. Once you have received your Silver Salon Forum password, and then if you abide by the Silver Salon Forum Guidelines, you may start a thread or post a reply in the New Members' Forum. New Members who show a continued willingness to participate, to completely read and abide by the Guidelines will be allowed to post to the Member Public Forums.
Click here to Register for a Free password

2. Private Silver Salon Forums (invitational or $ donation membership) - The Private Silver Salon Forums require registration and special authorization to view, search, start a thread or to post a reply. Special authorization can be obtained in one of several ways: by Invitation; Annual $ Donation; or via Special Limited Membership. For more details click here (under development).

3. Administrative/Special Private Forums (special membership required) - These forums are reserved for special subjects or administrative discussion. These forums are not open to the public and require special authorization to view or post.

| Home | Order | The Guide to Evaluating Gold & Silver Objects | The Book of Silver
| Update BOS Registration | Silver Library | For Sale | Our Wants List | Silver Dealers | Speakers Bureau |
| Silversmiths | How to set a table | Shows | SMP | Silver News |
copyright © 1993 - 2022 SM Publications
All Rights Reserved.
Legal & Privacy Notices