Sometimes it doesn’t even matter how old your antique is or what it is; if they show wear and tear, and look worn or damaged, they automatically lose their value. Caring for everyday items and caring for antiques is different.
Obviously, you should take care of everything you own, but antiques and collectables will always require more TLC.
This is a brief guide about how to care for your antiques – it doesn’t matter if you’re an avid antique collector or a one-time antique buyer, the same rules apply. What’s more, different types of antiques require different types of care – it’s not a case of one size fits all!
How to Care for Antique Furniture
It could be a Georgian chair or an Italian Gothic cot, it really doesn’t matter because there are a few simple rules that need following when it comes to caring for antique furniture.
Cleaning and Polishing Antique Furniture
A considerable amount of antique furniture is made out of wood, which is why the best way to clean collectable furniture is by dusting. However, there tends to be a lot of nooks and crannies in antique furniture as well, which will sometimes require the use of a very soft-bristled toothbrush in between all those hard to reach places.
With dusting, it’s imperative to use a special dusting cloth that is soft. Any old rag won’t suffice, as antique furniture is more delicate and prone to damage. If your antique or collectable furniture is made out of wood, it’s also a good idea to use a special polish for antique furniture.
Look out for high quality beeswax antique furniture polish – it does the trick well. Not only does beeswax antique polish give furniture pieces the necessary shine, it also helps protect the item from any future damage, especially from wood-loving insects.
Ideally, a piece of antique wooden furniture needs to be polished twice a year. To polish furniture, generously apply the beeswax antique polish, leave it overnight to seep into the wood, and buff gently the next day.
Many people may ask why it’s not okay to use spray furniture polish on antiques. While it may be easier to apply, such polishes contain silicon. This silicon gradually builds up over time to create a sticky surface. Over time, polishing antique furniture with the wrong polish will also deplete the wood’s natural oils.
Preserving Antique Furniture
It’s quite common for antique furniture not to be as preserved as well as modern furniture today. This simply means that wood wasn’t treated properly in the past.
Untreated wood will always be more sensitive to the weather and temperature. Humidity is especially a problem – too much or too little of it can seriously damage both wood and veneer. Extreme changes in temperatures can also damage wood.
Sun and extreme heat can be just as menacing, and it’s the sun that will show the quickest signs of weather-related damage. You should take extra care of antique furniture when it comes to sunlight. Damage from the sun can include, but is not limited to:
- Fading of furniture finish
- Fading of fabric
- Deterioration of fabric
Sometimes it’s impossible to avoid sun damage to antiques, so if this is the case, make sure you regularly turn the antique pieces to ensure that the fading process is at least even – it’s better to be evenly faded than patchy.
Another way of reducing sun damage to antique furniture is to keep the curtains drawn when there are exceptionally sunny days, however, this might not be a good long-term answer if you live in a particularly sunny place that sees many sunlight hours.
Inspect Antique Furniture Regularly
To maintain your antique furniture’s condition, it’s imperative to regularly inspect it for damage, which also includes any lifting molding or veneer. Other damage to look out for includes loose joints, woodworm holes and / or water damage.
Antique Furniture Restoration
Thankfully, it doesn’t always have to be the end of the world if you notice damage to your antique furniture. Depending on the severity of damage to the piece, it may be possibly fixable. There are reputable antique furniture restorers about, however, make sure you do your homework and check out their previous work and references, because the last thing you want is for them to destroy the item even more. Be prepared to wait and pay a considerable amount, because a well-known reputable antique restoration shop will cost you in time and money.
There are many types of antique clocks; these include mantel clocks, pendulum clocks and fuse clocks. For an antique clock to be worth its maximum value, it needs to be working, which is why it’s in the best interest of the owner to keep their antique clock in tip-top condition.
Again there are antique clock specialists and antique clock restoration shops, so when in any doubt, consult an expert.
Wind-up Antique Clocks
Clocks, especially antique clocks are delicate. What’s more, many antique clocks are of the wind-up variation.
Using the correct size key to wind up an antique clock is important. All winding should be done carefully without sudden or broken movements to ensure none of the clock’s works break.
Another reason why more care needs to be taken when winding clocks is because many of them contain a spring-driven bracket. To avoid this snapping, hold the clock steady and then wind.
If it’s an antique grandfather clock that needs winding up to work, do it with the doors open to ensure that the clock’s weights don’t knock against the case or pendulum.
Cleaning Antique Clocks
If an antique clock is wooden, it should be treated in exactly the same way as wooden furniture – with beeswax antique furniture polish.
Avoid using any ammonia-based glass cleaners, such as Windex, on the clock’s face, dial or gilding. Such powerful acid-based cleaning solvents destroy a number of types of material like metal, brass and silver.
Watch and clock restoration experts recommend creating a DIY mild paste to clean an antique clock’s dials. Combine gilders whiting chalk together with one part ethyl alcohol and one part distilled water. Gently clean each part with a soft cloth and paste, making sure to apply no direct pressure to the dials.
Antique Clock Storage and Care
Antique clocks require great care, especially if you want them to keep ticking. All antique time devices, especially metal ones, should remain in areas of low humidity to avoid moisture and dust accumulation and metal corrosion.
How to Care for Antique Porcelain and Pottery
Another form of popular antiques, pottery and porcelain collectables are often the types of antiques that get passed down from generation to generation, but like all other antiques, caring for them requires extra care and a little bit of technique.
Handling Collectible Porcelain and Pottery Antiques
For obvious reasons antique pottery and porcelain pieces need to be handled with extra care – they’re fragile!
When handling fragile antique collectables, such as pottery and porcelain, you need to ensure that you always hold the piece around the main part of the body (this is usually the thickest part). Quite often (and quite naturally), we’re tempted to pick up an antique piece of pottery by the handle. However, it’s the handle that’s the weakest point. Sometimes it’s quite difficult to spot antique pottery handle damage, and if you continue to handle the item by the handle, you risk destroying it completely.
Cleaning Antique Pottery
Like with most other antique types, using abrasives or harsh cleaning products is a no-no. Thankfully, pottery and porcelain are easier to clean than other items, and if you find they’re really dirty, get a soft damp sponge and gently wipe it clean.
Storing Antique Porcelain and Pottery
Antique pottery and porcelain are to be admired. This may remind you of visiting your grandmother’s house, but the best way to protect collectable pottery and porcelain is to keep it all behind glass.
How to Care for Antique Silver
Caring for any kind of silver properly can be tricky, and antique silver collectables is no exception. To clean antique silver, use hot soapy water.
Avoid allowing the antique silver piece to dry alone. Use a clean towel to dry it thoroughly and then take a soft cloth, such as a special polishing cloth, to gently buff it.
You’ll notice that there’s a plethora of commercial silver polishes on the market. While these might be tempting to use to get the desired instant finish, they should be used sparingly as many of them contain abrasives.
Preserving Antique Silver
If you want to preserve antique silver and not put it on show, it’s recommended wrapping it up in a piece of clean dry tissue paper and then storing it in a plastic bag in a cool dry place.
How to Care for Antique Jewellery
Every woman loves jewellery. Even more women love antique collectable jewellery. This is rarely bought outright; instead it tends to be passed down from generation to generation, which gives it more sentimental value than any other antique type.
Antique jewellery needs special care, especially if you choose to wear it, and why wouldn’t you? That’s what jewellery is for – to show off!
If you want to wear your antique necklace, earrings or other jewellery item, apply any sprays such as hairspray or perfume prior to putting on the jewellery. Sprays, like perfumes, can stain silver, gold and pearls, which are three of the most common material types used in antique collectable jewellery.
How to Clean Antique Jewellery
Cleaning antique jewellery, especially gold and silver antique jewellery, requires a similar process to that of cleaning and caring for antique silver.
Hot soapy water will do the trick. Use a clean soft-bristled toothbrush to get into those delicate hard to reach places. If you do research online, one suggested antique jewellery-cleaning hack is to use toothpaste (yes, you read correctly), but it really should be avoided, as toothpaste is an abrasive – stick to warm soapy water!