Repair of Sterling Silver Candlesticks
sterling silver candlesticks before and after repair
These sterling silver Art Deco candlesticks arrived broken from the base, but the repair was far more involved. I had to completely cut off the bottom, and remove the wrinkles in the base from the inside. It turns out the the bases had multiple holes, lots and lots of holes. With candlesticks that have faceted sharp edges the silver is polished on the edges and points until it is completely worn through. It the photo (right above) you can see the light shining through the holes after working on this for more than a year. There were so many holes it took me more than an year and a half to repair these candlesticks working through frustration and discouragement. Felt is glued on the bottom for an attractive appearance concealing the area I had to cut open for access.
When you polish your candlesticks, polish with q-tips and make-ups pads. Avoid a general rubbing with a cloth that wears on the edges.
20th Century Sterling Silver Candlesticks
These tall sterling silver candlesticks arrived with the candle cup very misshapen and bent (right photo.) The candle cup is not removable so it had to be slowly burnished back into shape holding on to the entire candlestick. Talk about challenging! After the repair work the candlesticks were polished.
Repairing a crushed candle cup
This sterling silver candlestick arrived with the candle cup badly dented, crushed and wrinkled as shown in the "before" photo (above right photo.) This candlestick had a lot of sentimental value to the customer so I did the best I could. I can't believe it turned out this great (above left photo.) . Repairing damage like this is not an instant process. I am gently reshaping the silver, and rubbing out the wrinkles all my hand.
Repair of a Pair of Art Deco Sterling Silver Candlesticks
These sterling silver Art Deco candlesticks were a family heirloom given as a wedding present in 1922. They were brought to me because they were bent, tilting to one side and the candle cup was crushed (right photo.)
This was an incredibly challenging repair. I had to cut a hole in the bottom, remove the pitch core, spend countless hours straightening the candlesticks, repair the many holes in the faceted edges from 93 years of polishing, and fix the crushed candle cup. Then they were polished and refilled with pitch. Felt is glued on the bottom for an attractive appearance concealing the area I had to cut open for access.
Straightening Sterling Silver Candlesticks
When these sterling silver candlesticks arrived for repair they were tilting significantly in different directions (right photo.) To prevent this from happening to your sterling silver candlesticks do not let them get hot. Never put them in the dishwasher or let them soak in very hot water. Avoid display in a hot sunny window. The core pitch like material will get soft and they may start leaning over like the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Sterling Silver Candlesticks were STRAIGHTENED and polished
Most sterling silver are filled with pitch. Sometimes it is possible to soften the pitch core enough to straighten the candlesticks without taking them apart. While not perfect, they are so much better than they were that it is best to leave well enough alone. The candlesticks were also covered with years of crud, and tarnish which in this case was difficult to remove. Tar residue from exposure to smoking in the house can also be a serious challenge to remove. The dents and misshapen candle cups were also repaired. The customer was very pleased with the results.
Antique Sterling Silver Candlesticks
Antique Russian Silver CANDLESTICK straightened
This Russian silver candlestick was bend at the top (top photo left.) Most Russian and Eastern European silver is marked 800 (photo left.) This is 800 parts silver to 200 parts copper. I was able to straighten the candlestick without significant change to the patina and returned it to the customer in less than a week. I do not like to keep valuable items any longer than necessary. More complicated jobs can take 2- 8 months.
This sterling silver candlestick was from the end of the 19th century. They had many beautiful details in the design. Unfortunately, the customer "twisted off" the top of the candlestick breaking off the silver candle cup. It was not supposed to come apart, and arrived with the candle cup completely broken off . This was a huge challenge to put back together. Apart from the difficulties of the repair, there is always the challenge of a the irregularities and wear from 100 + years of use.
Sterling silver candlesticks are often filled with a pitch material. This has to be removed by slowly and carefully melting it out which took two hours. You can see the pitch collected in the pot (right photo.)
After the candlestick is cleaned, it was silver soldered back together and refilled with the original pitch. The hours it takes for this repair are the only way to properly repair this beautiful sterling candlestick.
View more details about this repair in a Berman Fine Silverwork Facebook album.
Repairing Sterling Silver Candelabra
"Cement Reinforced" or "Weighted" Candlesticks
Many 20th century candlesticks and candelabra are labeled Cement Reinforced or Weighted. The sterling silver is very thin, thinner than a piece of paper. The candle cup, stem sections and base are filled with pitch. Over time the pitch core breaks when the candlesticks are dropped or handled roughly. The candelabra arms are fragile and vulnerable to breaking.
Repairs are very challenging. Contact me to send photos of your sterling silver candlestick and I will tell you what I can do. Do not glue. Glue will not hold and can be difficult to remove.
The sterling silver candelabra above was leaning sideways and the base had extensive damage. The candle cups were bent and the center candle cup actually had a hole ripped into it from a knife. The right image is restored. Look below for a close-up view.
In the left close-up look at the wrinkled and damaged candle cups of a 20th century cement filled candlestick. Never use a knife to remove candle wax as it can cause serious damage and cuts in the sterling. To remove was, put your candlestick in the refrigerator. After it is cold, use your fingernail to pop off the wax. In the right photo, I fabricated a sterling silver form to cover the ripped hole in the candle cup. Wrinkles can be removed from the sterling silver candle cups, but it is not easy to do.
silverplate candlesticks can look like sterling
In recent years Gorham appears to be making silverplate candlesticks that look like sterling, they are marked EP on the bottom. The EP stands for Electro-Plate. Don’t buy these candlesticks. They have all the inherent weak construction of sterling and they are silverplate. They cost more to repair than the original purchase price because they need to be silver plated after the repair.
Repair of Silverplate
Candlesticks & Candelabra
This candlestick arrived broken with some serious problems, but the customer did not want to re-silverplate the candlestick. She preferred the "shabby chic" worn silver plating and character. The pitch core was removed and the candlestick base was soldering back together. I put a small silver wire on the inside edge to reinforce the repair, and then refilled the candlestick with pitch. The entire silverplate candlestick was polished as is. The silverplating is worn, but the entire candlestick has character.
Not everything silverplate needs to be replated if you don't mind the worn plating and look of old silver. Not everything 100 + years old has to look perfectly new. This candlestick looks terrific considering the sad condition when it arrived at my studio.
This silver plate white metal candelabra was broken in about six pieces, bent, and very tarnished. Repairing this type of white metal is always a challenge because the white metal melts at very close to the same temperature as the solder. After reassembly, it was polished very carefully to preserve the remaining silver plate while restoring it's appearance. The transformation was remarkable.
Unusual Candlestick Repair
Rare Ram's Horn Candlestick
This very unusual ram's horn candlestick arrived broken in two pieces. It also had two previous repair attempts that were poorly done. The first step for any repair is to remove all the old repairs to start fresh to provide the best foundation for a quality repair job. Objects from foreign countries are almost always filled with surprises and challenges. The silver is an unpredictable alloy. This candlestick was extremely difficult to solder straight with a swirly shape of the ram's horn, and the irregular candle cup shape (shown in the photo below.)
The customer said, "I finally had a chance to get to the post office and get the candlestick. It looks absolutely terrific! It's better than the original!"
Repair of Shefffield Plate Candelabra
Restoration of a MatThew Boulton candlestick
This 225 year old Matthew Boulton candelabra was a challenging repair. By the time it was in my studio, one arm was hanging on by a thread of metal, and another arm was very weak. A seam around the outside edge of the center was stretching open and splitting. This candelabra is incredibly heavy but made from silver, copper and lead, all very soft metals.
Original Sheffield Plate is from the early 19th century. It is a sandwich of silver (as the bread) with a copper core (the meat.) It is assembled and filled with lead. Do not be confused by the word “Sheffield” stamped on a number of 19th and 20th century silverplate objects. This term is often used to confuse the customer inferring a quality or history that is not accurate. “Sheffield” might be used to reference the city it was made in, or the name of the company.
Learn more about how I repaired this antique Matthew Boulton candlestick, step by step with details shots by clicking here.
Vintage Brass & Acrylic Candlesticks
Vintage mid-century modern Brass and acrylic candlesticks
I can polish and repair brass and acrylic. These mid-century modern candlesticks had solid brass candle cups and bases but they looked terrible. Originally they were lacquered but over time the lacquer degrades and tarnishes. Working with acrylic takes great care and patience. While these candlesticks may have limited value, they have a lot of style. It is worth making them look fabulous. After I refinish the brass, they can be maintained by hand polishing.