James Bly's Topical Tips

The Festive Season is upon us and people who live with antiques will be lighting candles to enliven their tables and sideboards in the traditional manner.

Most old candlesticks and candelabra have drip pans to the sconces to prevent wax dripping onto the surface below, but some from specific periods and of particular styles do not. 

Thus a frequent call to our workshops after a candle-lit dinner is one of despair asking how to best remove candle wax from a polished surface.


For an antique hand-waxed polished surface take a new credit card, ensuring that it has a perfectly smooth edge.

Holding it at 45% with both hands and exactly parallel with the surface gently scrape away at the blobs of wax until they are nearly flush with the timber top.

Do not let the card touch the timber. 

When nearly flush take a shoe brush and a smidgen of clear shoe polish - it must not have any colour or dye - and apply with a circular motion until the candle wax blends with the shoe wax and gradually disappears. 

Finish with a wider general overall sweep or two with the brush across the whole surface. A soft cloth buffing is optional.

Party Time is usually when the best china and the family silver are brought out to play. 

This is also the time when bundles of teaspoons and other flatware - cutlery to you and me - are unwrapped to find the rubber bands that some well-meaning person tied them together with, have decomposed and left black marks on the handles or wherever they touched. 

These are burns in the silver surface and are as permanent as a burn in timber.

The lesson is never put rubber bands anywhere near silver as above or leave them in grandpa's christening mug.  They will scar the surface in a very short time. 

Equally never leave an open pot of salt in a cupboard with any items of silver. 

The salt will contaminate the air with minute particles that land on the silver and burn it in the same way as rubber bands. 

These nasty little black dots - salt burns - are damaging aesthetically and to the value.

To store cutlery buy or make simple roll-up cloth bags or wrap in acid-free tissue paper. 

Never use plastic bags and never put self-adhesive tape over the hallmarks 'to protect them'.

After a while the tape will scar the silver just like rubber bands and salt.


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