How I Clean Old Copper, Brass, Pewter, Silver, & Silver-plate.

An example of one process described below: A pre-revolutionary Russian brass “pass cup” with copper body rings. I used ”King Midas” (a great cleaner, but now it is KAPUT! = Out of business.) to get the initial oxidation off and then “MAAS” to polish it up. Total time expended: no more than 30 minutes.

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PLEASE NOTE:

I DO NOT DO VALUE ($$$’s) APPRAISALS! There are way too many variables: condition, location, time of year, present trends in stein collecting, local (and now national) economics; but most of all = prior expectations by the owner, are among the reasons!

I have for over a year now placed these short “notifications” at the bottom of each page! It is now obvious to me the general public never gets that far before wanting to ask me a question on beer stein dollar values. So I have had to move them forward as I am getting tired of copying them and sending them back to people as an answer to their “stein value” questions. This was meant to be an informational web site only.

NOR WILL I KNOWINGLY DO ASSESSMENTS for the future selling of steins on auction sites such as eBay, etc. Go to the web site for “Stein Collector’s International” and click on “Stein Talk,” someone there might help you. I just do not have the time! My web site was really started as an informational site for beginning beer stein collectors that would be looking for the info and not the general public. This site has its own search engine [top right on each page!] SO if one puts in “Wood Steins” or “Hand painted steins,” it will give one a list of all the pages that has that subject matter within it.

STILL WISH TO CONTACT ME ABOUT ANY INFORMATION ON THIS SITE?  EMAIL:  STEVE (STEPHEN)  = thevirginian@cox.net

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[Editor's note 6-1-2013l   Anyone interested in Copper, or old mining should enjoy reading this article I did! ~

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/06/01/mes-aynak-afghanistans-buddhist-buried-treasure-faces-destruction/

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As I said on the "About Steve" page I have been collecting steins for about 41 years now. In about the 5th year into my collecting, I bought my first old pewter beer stein, and as it was all dirty and crusty, so  I decided I would clean it.

An old pre-revolutionary, about 2 liters, Russian copper beer server, as found. [FWTD]

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After cleaning  and polishing.

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Oh, let me state right now; I am a firm believer that steins (especially metal ones) should appear as close to when they were made as possible. Now there are a couple of exceptions to this “Rule” and they all pertain to pewter!

[1] a piece with encrusted layer of oxidized pewter, that one should just leave alone. 

[2] A pewter piece with ”real patina” (an aged gloss evenly spread all over the piece.)

 [3] Reservist (Regimentals) stein lids. I knew of a stein collector who was also a dentist, who would use his drill equipment to shine his “Reservist” lids up. Then they did look “brand new”and shiny, BUT they also looked like they were “new” and might have been recently replaced by a German pewter-smith or a USA stein lid repairer, who all now order new lids from the German pewter lid making companies.

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Above: A heavily encrusted French pewter charger, 16.25 inches wide, from around 1650-90. [FWTD] There is no practical way to polish this piece without destroying its value. One could soak it in Muriatic Acid, then scrape off the gunk and then work on it with steel wool for weeks, and it would still end up looking like aluminum when it was done! Or one could use a “Dremel tool, and grind the layer of encrustation away. This also will make this piece (or any stein) look like aluminum and may ruin the piece by actually grinding too far through the metal and creating holes. So, my answer? Don’t mess with it! (See Lotti’s article below.)

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Over the years I have given lectures about beer steins and collecting them, all around the USA, East of the Mighty Mississippi. Every time (really? yes, every time!) I show one of my shined metal steins I will get the question: what did I use to shine it up? As I know this question is coming I always take one of my most dirty pieces with me. It is most often this one shown just below, as at the same time I tell everyone these are not steins, regardless that they are listed in “The Beer Stein Book ” as such.

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Below: This is really a 16 inch tall, brass, Dutch made, stamped, or pressed, display (mantle), or “ash or kindling cans for next to the fire place can.” One can not possibly drink beer from it for several reasons; not the least of them would be that when full of beer the weight of the body would pull the poorly soldered handle right off the damn thing! But the design is a copy of that found on about a  3  liter Westerwald stoneware beer stein. The (again, pressed / stamped) relief scenes show three famous kings in Europe’s Frankish history; that were all from one family. These might have been produced for display, but they all also come equipped with an asbestos type material as their base.

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CHARLEMAGNE           CHARLES (THE HAMMER) MARTELL          PIPPEN

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I explain in my lectures that once I buy a piece this oxidized and dirty I will test out how bad it is by using just a tiny bit of the “MAAS”.

If this doesn’t dent the oxidation, then I call in the “Big Guns” = “Twinkel Brass and Copper Cleaner” (also of course good for real bronze steins.) Used with just a bit of water this stuff can become a iittle messy when using a toothbrush while trying to get into the cracks and crevices of the relief instead of using the pad that comes with it. My “Lady Julia” hates for me to do this in our kitchen, so I resort to using the set tub, which is next to the clothes washer, and of course she then bitchs about that!

“Twinkle” does a great job, but one might have to do the process a couple of times especially in the areas that are hard to reach. The copper or brass will come out a much duller color than expected.

For the inside, which usually is “tinned” (most often some tin remains) I will use  “Soft Scrub” to clean it as it won’t hurt the tinif you are gentle. -

Do as many times as you need, BUT: soap and water it off, and rinse really well!

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RELEVANT NOTES:

PLEASE DO NOT USE ANY CLEANER ON THE “BRONZED” SPELTER LIDS THAT ARE FOUND ON OLD POTTERY AND GLASS  STEINS (MOSTLY HOBNAILS)  SUCH AS THAT SHOWN ABOVE!

THE COPPER COATING [ON THE MOLDED SPELTER] COMES OFF QUITE EASILY!!

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PLEASE DO NOT SHINE YOUR PEWTER LIDS UP TO LOOK TOO BRIGHT !  IT WILL GIVE THE APPEARANCE OF A REPLACED LID !   THIS IS AN AUTHENTIC OLD LID  THAT HAS HAD ALL THE OXIDATION POLISHED OFF =NOT SUCH A GOOD IDEA.

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 A SPECIAL NOTE  DO NOT USE SILVER POLISH ON ANYTING BUT SILVER !   BUT YOU MAY USE THE WENOL, OR  MAAS,  OR SIMICROME ON ANY METAL INCLUDING SILVER

PLEASE DO NOT [!!] USE THIS PRODUCT; “TWINKLE, BRASS AND COPPER” ON PEWTER OR SILVER STEINS!
TWINKLE  HAS ITS OWN SILVER POLISH!

After the “Twinkle” treatment, your stein will be left with some dried green residue, which will simply wash off with hot soapy water (as in Palmolive) and a tooth brush. I sometimes  use Windex, it’s faster!  Some green area, especially in the cracks will remain but don’t worry about it as the next steps will take care of that.

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So if you finished using the “Twinkle” and cleaned it at least once, the next step, is to shine /  polish  your piece up.

THESE ARE MY RECOMMENDED POLISHERS: ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10  (10 BEING BEST)

No. 1 = “MAAS” – A 9 on the scale.

COMANY’S  INFO: http://www.maasinc.com/

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Another example of the process described above: Before and after. A Russian beer / wine  server Ca. 1840. [FWTD]

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Which ever polish you end up using, you should only need a tiny amount of it!

Using a soft rag (old undershirts are great), a dab about the size of a pencil eraser will do an area of at least 4 [x] 4 inches. The cloth will get filthy dirty black, but don’t stop just then, continue for a while longer to get best results. Then using a clean part of the rag, then wipe off  the black residue off the stein. You should use about 3 parts of the rag to make certain all the polish film comes off.

AGAIN: For the inside, which usually is “tinned” (most often some tin remains) I will use ”Soft Scrub” to clean it as it  won’t hurt the tin. Do as many times as you need, BUT: soap and water it off, and rinse really well!

The final step is to use a DRY hard toothbrush to brush out all the dried polish inside all the cracks and crannies (sometimes a little spit helps!) Then buff once more with the clean part of the cloth. Good luck.

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OTHER POLISHES I WOULD RECOMMEND IN LIEU OF “MAAS”:

No. 2 = “WENOL”  - AN 8 ON THE ABOVE SCALE

COMPANY’S  INFO:  http://www.wenolit.com/ A USA distributor.

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No. 3 = “SIMICHROME” –  A 7.5 ON THE ABOVE SCALE.

There are no other polishes that I would recommend, and believe me I have tried 90% of them on the market within the last 41 years .

WHERE TO BUY THESE POLISHES  ? = ON THE  WEB @ GOOGLE, [OR] @ ASK .COM , [OR]  @ EBAY.

Also, most big  shopping malls have a William-Sonoma store which sells “Wenol.”

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Please do not use any Muratic  acid  (or any other kind)  as it will make the vessel’s finish look like just below:

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“(SOME OTHER)  THOUGHTS ON PEWTER”

………..by Liselotte Lopez;  A SCI Master Steinologist, 1983.

(date of publication unknown – but prior to Jack Rives’ death in 1998)

The May issue of the Keysteiners Newsletter brought a mild complaint by Jack (Rives) that we members had not contributed ant written word. What better way to remedy the above than be putting together a little story about pewter and submit it to the resident expert.

When it comes to pewter, I want mine spotlessly clean with a soft cared for appearance. Call it the German background or an ignorance for the called patina, so cherished by some stein collector’s. I can’t wait to remove dirt and imbedded grim of a century or less and wash the tankard or just the lid in soap and water, using an old toothbrush to get into crevices where dirt likes to hide. I’m not overly fond of tankards that have been artificially aged by dipping them into who knows what, something they did as early as the 1880’s .  By now, the entire surface has become pitted and rough looking as opposed to the inside of stein lids or tankards that have seen little use. Immersion on hydrochloric acid will remove this fake patina, a smelly and unpleasant, if not dangerous procedure I will not recommend to anyone. In the past I have been know to undertake this task but not any more – I simply avoid tankards thus treated.

Let’s say then that I have come home with a pewter tankard or lid that has been ravaged only by time, not a chemically induced patina. After washing and drying I apply a wadding polish (‘NEVERDULL’) and polish after drying. The raised pewter surfaces will gleam, the low relief portions not quite so much, making for a pleasant contrast. It’s a bonus to discover finely embossed artists names or other small details that would have remained hidden under the dirt/patina layer. I marvel at the excellent molds the makers used and the minute detail and delicacy of designs.

My stein collecting friends have a good time teasing me and can be found in one or the other camp. The first group claims that the patina of the ages should never be removed and I agree. But what constitutes “ages”? Surely one hundred years or less does not qualify for such an exalted term. Most tankards in the ordinary collection today were made from 1870 onwards – give or take some years – they are hardly a century old. I suspect that the collectors in this group find the cleaning such a chore that they wish to avoid it at all costs. It’s easy then to claim I “ruined” the thing, whatever I did, as it now looks too new. I say baloney – I improved the appearance.

The second group can see the advantage of nice looking pewter and I have made some converts to my way of thinking. Though they still don’t like to clean, they have discovered the hidden details in relief scenes formerly hidden by the lack of cleaning

Machine buffed pewter is a definite “no-no”. Nor will I touch or try to improve 2the pewter rims on Mettlach’sinlay lids as a large number of them were artificially aged at the time of their production or a lower grade of pewter was used that oxidized heavily . An acid bath to remove this layer is therefore unthinkable.

Due to a demand for pewter items on the Continent (editor: Europe)  with an antique look, a majority of recently made pewter items in Germany are being artificially darkened, on lids usually inside and out, a dead give away. This is accomplished with IRON III CHLORIDE, a mostly non poisonous and non acid substance. The yellow brown powder in mixed with water at a ratio of 1:20; stronger or weaker solutions require a shorter or longer immersion time

To achieve the patina, the items can be removed from the iron chloride bath when the desired degree of darkness is reached before dipping, the pewter must be cleaned to remove dust, dirt, finger prints or any body oils that would leave the surface spotty. Finest grade steel wool maybe used. The pewter item is to be moved around in the bath in order to avoid bubbles for uneven color. For best results, the mixture should be as weak as possible, a light color, not unlike the color of beer. When the desired color is reached, rinse the item in cold to lukewarm water. If sheen is desired, liquid wax or car wax may be applied. Try not to get splashes on clothing – the stain is permanent

Since all of us live with pewter in one form or another, be it lids, foot-rings, or entire tankards, the question of cleaned versus uncleaned pewter has arisen with each collector  For those wishing to make shiny, new looking pewter darker, I have supplied a recipe. For those who have not given it a thought – you may want to. Clean or oxidized – you know where I stand.  (L.L.)

NOte: Even though Lotti recommended “Neverdull” I don’t care for it. It is no where near as effective as the three listed above, and very messy.

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An email about brass beer mugs …..

On 6/1/2013 11:04 PM, Thomas H wrote:
Hi Thank you for you web site.
I purchase several brass mugs to give 2 boys who are 21.at Christmas.I will get Maas to clean.
My questions is  Can put beer in the container or do they have to lined with anything–if so what should I look for.It is nowhere on the internet–strange
Thank you
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Hello Mr H,
 ……and thank you for your email and “kudos.”
You may drink anything out of brass vessels once washed and cleaned.
However when drinking beer (and I assume wine) the brass will make the liquids taste different.  Lot of people do not like that taste .
 
If you don’t have an old fashion “Tin-smith” in your neighborhood (and not many do!) I would recommend spraying – just the insides of the cups -  with a CLEAR non-toxic Acrylic spray. That at least should hopefully make the situation better.
I’m not recommending this brand or any other …just that any Wal Mart would have it:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Mod-Podge-Clear-Matte-Acrylic-Sealer-12-oz/17300139
I wish you and your sons a Happy Christmas.
Steve

 

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[END - SOK  - 16 - DD]

WISH  TO CONTACT ME ?  = thevirginian@cox.net

  “Some of us learn from the mistakes of others; the rest of us have to be the others.”