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Author Topic:   Replating plate
Russell

Posts: 52
Registered: Oct 2003

iconnumber posted 12-06-2005 07:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

Is it a "no-no" to replate silver plate? I know it reduces the value of antique furniture to strip it and refinish it. Does the same hold true for plated items or is replating it so that it looks nice again acceptable?
Thank you.

Russell

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Clive E Taylor

Posts: 450
Registered: Jul 2000

iconnumber posted 12-06-2005 07:31 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Clive E Taylor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I would say it is a matter of cost, historic value and utility.
Most modern silver plate has more utlitarian value than historic. Thus if a good Victorian or Art Deco piece is in poor condition and unfit for use it is quite legitimate to replate it - it will give you a nice useful item at a probable higher artistist quality , appeal and lower cost than buying a new one.
Older material, especially old Sheffield Plate , which has historic value should NOT be replated. The only problem with this attitude is that fashion and appreciation changes. 40 or 50 years ago I can remember my father buying Georgian longcase clocks for their timber. At around One UK pound each it was a cheap source of wood. ! He must have used literally dozens for furniture .
At least in replating you are only restoring the item to its original state. And preserving it from the dustbin.
I can now hear the silver plate enthusiasts grinding their teeth and girding their loins.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 12-06-2005 07:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
When I was on the show circuit, my valuation of items was always based on what they would be like if in new condition. And I would price according to how much work needed to be done to bring them there. My own opinion is a piece is worth much, much more replated than it is in worn condition. Two caveats here. The plating job must be a really good one, leaving the piece with a deep luster not a modern shiney finish. The cost of plating can be daunting, but the end product when done right is worth it. These were made to be replated, the old catalogs tout this as a feature of the silverplate. It could be restored readily.

Where does this idea that refinished furniture is worth less than the original finish come from? Most old finishes develop problems over the course of the years. They pick up dirt and grime, they become opaque, they crack and peel. Many were made of organic materials which naturally deteriorate with age. Of course the piece is worth more when refinished because it can be restored to its original appearance and used in modern houses for modern living. Very few people want an antique piece with icky finish in their homes. The old finishes were never meant for eternity; they had to be renewed and replaced in the normal course of living.

If the statement were true, all the hundreds of dealers who make a living buying furniture, refinishing it and selling it for a profit would long ago have gone out of business. But they haven't; the original finish people tend to fall by the wayside.

I feel these statements are 'urban myths', spread by ill informed people. My favorite silver one, which I have heard from numerous folks is: you can tell a Georgian piece of silver because it is always plain; any decoration or ornamentation means it is a fake.

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adelapt

Posts: 418
Registered: May 2003

iconnumber posted 12-06-2005 08:23 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for adelapt     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Here's another perspective. Old and well made furniture with its 'original finish' is not necessarily 'icky'. The value of say an early colonial piece of furniture is likely to be lowered if it's given an 'as new' finish, in my experience. Restoration and repolishing can hide details of changes to the item, in the same way that soldering and then electroplating
for example a Revere coffee pot, or highly buffing the same item can do.
This applies more to the top of the market (in silver as in furniture), as opposed to the merely utilitarian. It applies also to the market in early paintings, where an good early uncleaned canvas is less likely to be viewed with suspicion than a brightly restored one would.
Look at it this way - would you be more likely to pay a higher price for a buffed and shiny Burt tankard than you would for the same thing in good clean but unbuffed condition, where you can be fairly sure it hasn't been tinkered with? The owner of the item in 'original' condition has the choice whether to 'improve'it or not, and to what extent (and by whom). The owner of the 'restored' object does not. But then, I do have some 'icky' furniture (and silver)!
For silver (electro) plate, the main problem may be finding a good reliable plater.

[This message has been edited by adelapt (edited 12-06-2005).]

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 12-06-2005 09:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This may apply to the top of the market, as adelapt points out. I was refering to the middle and bottom of the market. In my opinion 90% of all used, second hand and antique furniture would be improved by refinishing. And have its value enhanced. Those pieces with good intact original finishes are very few and far between for most people. I have rarely ever encountered any.

My opinion, which is personal, is that advice should rest upon typical or usual cases. Not extreme high end or very old items. To say that because of early colonial furniture we should do this is not much help when looking at a 1920's dining room set. Frequently very old furniture needs to be re-doweled and the joints reglued. Is this objectionable? The alternative is that the piece falls apart.

I would wonder how many Burt tankards there ever were as compared to Meriden Brittania syrup pitchers. The latter number in the 100's of thousands. I tend to trust a buffed piece much more than an unpolished one. But then I am the only one here who is not a patina fan.

What I suspect is happening here is that advice based on very early or very high end items is being applied to rather ordinary things. Which generally results in people ignoring the source of the advice. It is like books on silver that concentrate on Buckingham Palace's collection. Nice, wonderful silver, but beside the point for almost every collector.

My own experience is that nice, restored and refinished furniture is a readily sold item. Original condition items are a nut magnet.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 12-06-2005 09:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was once, when I was young and foolish, my sad karma to own and try to sell a set of four matched Chippendale chairs. These were clearly 18th century and clearly hand chiseled with roman numerals indicating they had been part of a set. They were in good shape, with nicely needlepointed flame stiched seats. The owner from whom I purchased the chairs had done the seats herself in the 1950's. In the course of the 8 months I carried the chairs, at least 6 dozen collectors told me that the fact that the needlework was not original reduced the value of the chairs to zero.

My personal experience of 'original condition' is that it is a nut magnet. All sorts of ill informed and sometimes delusional people show up and talk about original condition. And the horror of repairs, replacements etc. I can remember a few dozen who told me that unless a piece was signed by Mr Biedermier, it was not Biedermier.

The end result of this is that I am utterly antagonistic to the whole concept. I like the 'what it was like when new' school of thought. I really like and endorse restorations to that end. I feel they are always a good idea, for the ordinary dealer with ordinary and worthwhile merchandise.

The people who like 'original condition' in my humble experience and opinion do not buy things. Those who like patina in silver do not buy things. From me at least. And I decided a long time ago to tune them out.

Anyway, that is where I am coming from.

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Richard Kurtzman
Moderator

Posts: 759
Registered: Aug 2000

iconnumber posted 12-06-2005 11:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Richard Kurtzman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"Older material, especially old Sheffield Plate , which has historic value should NOT be replated."
This is true, but also (Maybe I'm stating the obvious.) Sheffield plate and electroplate are two different processes and if you replate (electroplate) a piece of Sheffield you destroy the integrity and value of the piece.

[This message has been edited by Richard Kurtzman (edited 12-06-2005).]

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Marc

Posts: 414
Registered: Jun 2002

iconnumber posted 12-14-2005 01:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi all,

A couple of things.. First, Owners of plated items that will be staying in the family and will be on display usually want their pieces to look good. Old plate with 30% of the copper showing is not what they want on display... What will their friends say? So these pieces get plated.

Secondly, there is a difference between the antiques market and the decorater market.
In the antiques marketplace, merchandise generally has to be good... In the decorator market, merchandise has to look good.

I know that I could not give away a pair of Matthew Boulton candelabra if there was a lot of copper showing, but if they came to me well replated they would sell to the decorative arts crowd in 2 seconds.

Yes.. Original condition is what we preder and strive for, in our collecting, but it can be tough.

Marc

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 12-14-2005 02:00 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Marc says: In the antiques marketplace, merchandise generally has to be good... In the decorator market, merchandise has to look good.

Uhhh, looking good frequently means fitting the theme of the room. Or fitting in with some extremely vague style, like 'French train in the 30's'. Or: Agatha Christie mystery country mansion. Or: Hollywood in the 30's.

What the dealer must recognize is that frequently their clients, who can write checks that do not bounce, think Art Deco was one of Madonna's boyfriends. So, all the terms derived from art history and stylistic developement have virtually no commercial use. Aside from very limited circles.

And these customers tend to like the bright, shiney new.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 12-14-2005 02:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Russell, any thoughts? Or comments?

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Clive E Taylor

Posts: 450
Registered: Jul 2000

iconnumber posted 12-14-2005 02:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Clive E Taylor     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
This subject has ranged, as usual, much further than the original question. I agree very much with Dale that the interior decorator wants something thatlooks good. He is the guy inputing the artistic bits, not the original artist. This can be a good or bad thing. In silver I am always fighting one of the top dealers whose clients like very bright shiny new old silver. In consequence he gets everything scrupulously mechanicaly cleaned. I consider this cultural vandalism and that his clients should be shot on sight. He responds that thats what the item looked like originally, and that his clients have the right to that. I respond that he should therefore brightly paint his classic greek statutes, and restain in lurid colours all 18th century inlain furniture. Both sides have right on their side but, and its a big but, all my cleaning etc is reversable.
Also the judgement of time is usually that items properly looked after survive, those that are alered to cocktail caginets or TV cabinets do not .
But returning to the subject a badly worn piece of 19th ir twentieth century plate, machine made is likely to be discarded if not used. If it has artistic merit then replating and using it will prevent its destruction.
Horsed for courses - its our choice - but think before deciding.
Oh dear I do sound pompous - I must be getting old!

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Russell

Posts: 52
Registered: Oct 2003

iconnumber posted 12-14-2005 08:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Russell     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hi Dale and friends,

Thank you for your interesting and thought provoking comments. If the piece was old Sheffield plate with copper showing, I would not replate it. It earned its right to show its age and sit on a shelf in retirement; but the piece is an Art Nouveau water pitcher (Derby Silver Co. Quadruple Plate with anchor over crown, 2032, Pat. May 23, 1905). I would like to use the pitcher for water or iced tea. It really should be replated because the dark gray base metal is showing in some spots. From what I've read here, replating it would not be a crime. I would like the plater not to replate the base with the marks because I am afraid the new silver plate would cover the marks. Is my fear well founded? I never had anything replated before.
Thanks again for your lively interest in this subject. Every time I post, it's a great learning experience.

Russell

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Marc

Posts: 414
Registered: Jun 2002

iconnumber posted 12-14-2005 10:47 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey Russell,

First of all it helpful to know what goes on when an item is replated.

The first step is to get rid of all the old plate so that the surface to be plated is uniformly smooth. To do that, you buff it, and keep buffing it. You lose detail. But if the surface is not clean and what was that word...? oh yeah.. SMOOTH, the silver plate will look and peel like fish scales.

Any highlites or details will be buffed down all the crisp details you treasured will be muddied. This is why replateing looks so much better on unornamented pieces... There are fewer details to lose.

If your derby pitcher is plain, it will look great after plating, but if there are details you treasure, they won't look the same.

Also, you can get your finished piece "antiqued" so whatever details there are will show up better.

And, in the replating business, as in other services, get recomendations from friends, and look at some finished work done by the folks you are considering.

Marc

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Marc

Posts: 414
Registered: Jun 2002

iconnumber posted 12-14-2005 10:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Marc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Russell,

If your pitcher does not need a complete replating, the highlites can be done by spotplating them. Yes, it takes some time and effort, but you will preserve the details that make this such a great looking piece. Talk to your silversmith. Don't go through a 3rd party as you will pay more and communicate less.

I am sure that some of the members can recommend a really great replater.

Marc

[This message has been edited by Marc (edited 12-14-2005).]

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 12-16-2005 11:43 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Clive says: In silver I am always fighting one of the top dealers whose clients like very bright shiny new old silver. In consequence he gets everything scrupulously mechanicaly cleaned.

Sounds like he has the same type of customers I always ran into. The people who like bright and shiny outnumber the patina ones by about 99 to 1. And a dealer is bound by his customer's preferences not his own. People buy all sorts of dreck and there is nothing I can do about it. The coniseur is a scarce but wonderful client. A joy to visit with, a source of deep satisfaction. Sadly there are very few of them. That's the way the market is.

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Dale

Posts: 2132
Registered: Nov 2002

iconnumber posted 12-16-2005 11:50 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Dale     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
On replating, there are those who do as Marc describes. This can severely damage a piece. But not all platers work this way. Most I knew either removed the old silver by reverse plating in a tank, which does not touch the detail or simply steam cleaned the piece then copper plated it. I have actually encountered very few platers who roughly buffed off the old silver in this fashion.

Check with the plater to see how they will handle the piece before commiting to the deal. And make sure they promise to preserve the detail.

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