Coin Silver Cases

GD1

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Apr 22, 2004
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I have several older coin silver cased pocket watches stored that have turned practically black over a number of years from tarnish. Is there anything that can be done to stop this and is it advisable to clean them or leave them as is. Also, will the tarnish harm the cases or the movement in any way? Thanks for any info.
 

Jon Hanson

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Leave well alone! Years of aging cannot be replaced!

Polishing removes metal and eventually wears your case.

At worse, wash with ivory soap--dry thoroughly. Then wipe case off with a terry cloth towel after handling.

Store in dry places; use dessicant. DO NOT STORE IN PLASTIC!

Maybe this will also educate or be of benefit to K West?
 
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GD1

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Jon, thanks for the info. I have these stored in old jeweler's felt lined trays, the kind that held watches in show cases. A retired jeweler gave the trays to me years ago. They are definitely stored in a dry place.
 

richiec

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I really need to ask this question, If you were to put the family silver out for a Thanksgiving meal, would you just wash it in Ivory Soap and put it out black or would you polish it? A nice patina on a watch case is ok but would the original owner have left his case languishing until it turned black or would he have polished it from time to time? I realize that polishing takes off layers of silver and will eventually wear through to the base metal, unless it is solid sterling, but you would not encourage polishing?
 

Fred Hansen

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Patina is a good thing.

When I buy an early American watch in a silver case there is nothing I like to see more than a nice long acquired patina on a well maintained case.

On these watches I don't like seeing signs of recent polishing or other overaggressive cleaning, and I especially don't like to see this on the more significant and nicer condition items. To me polishing of these type cases definitely harms desirability and value compared to what the case would have been if left alone.

Most collectors of early American watches I know feel the same way about this.

Fred

p.s. Here is a link to an interesting past thread on the same subject ... https://mb.nawcc.org/showthread.php?t=17870
 

Jon Hanson

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I really need to ask this question, If you were to put the family silver out for a Thanksgiving meal, would you just wash it in Ivory Soap and put it out black or would you polish it? A nice patina on a watch case is ok but would the original owner have left his case languishing until it turned black or would he have polished it from time to time? I realize that polishing takes off layers of silver and will eventually wear through to the base metal, unless it is solid sterling, but you would not encourage polishing?
The difference is obvious--WE DONT DRINK from OR EAT from a watch case!:rolleyes:
 

Jon Hanson

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Beautiful, even patination on a choice watch is just beautiful--I am not speaking rust or damage, just original silver oxide.

Another thing is that ones I find like this are from old estates or VIRGIN sources/parties.--best place from which to buy (in my opinion) for unswitched and untampered VIRGINS.

Generally, old VIRGIN watches usually have less repairs to the movements, also, unlike ones watchmakers have worked on for decades (recently or 100 years ago).:Party:
 

Rhett Lucke

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In my opinion, Jon and Fred are right on the money.

Please.........leave the patina

Rhett
 

CZHACK

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Then again, many of us like a well maintained polished silver case.....but not the harsh over cleaned version. Rather polished with a cloth or mild cleaner that leaves a deep patina. We may not eat off of these items but I bet original owners cared for these items and that included cleaning/polishing them. Mike
 

Jerry Matthews

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How does one polish without removing patina?
Don't confuse tarnish with patina. Tarnish is black, and bad. Patina is defined as "a surface of something grown beautiful with age or use" and is good. It is why a fine piece of Georgian or Victorian silver is more beautiful than anything that just came out of the jeweller's showcase.

I defer totally to you guys on matters horological. But antique silver is something I do know a lot about. My advice is remove the tarnish. Not aggressively, of course. Avoid commercial silver polishes, the kind of stuff you polish tableware with. Get some gold and silver polish from English Custom Polishing----despite the name it is an American company, based in Maine. Thereafter, get a good silver polishing cloth from a quality jeweller and give your silver a gentle rub every few weeks.

You are not going to wear out old silver. I have handled 18th century silver articles from stately homes which have been correctly polished regularly, and they look better than new.

Coin silver comes up beautifully, as does sterling and the continental .800 standard. I am not of course talking about silver plate or gold filled.

Obviously, they are your watches. If you want to leave them black with tarnish and looking like junk that is your business, not mine.:)
 

Jon Hanson

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WOW, to compare silver pieces IN CABINETS or coins with silver items that are worn in ones pocket and handled daily is ludicrous.

Who in the heck polishes early silver pieces every two weeks?

Items only need wiping off after handling, not to just wipe off. The acid in ones system is one thing that can cause problems.

Bottom line is that handling, touching thn wiping off, polishing WILL WEAR THE METAL and remove the crisp corners!

Generally, collectible pocket watches not worn only need wiping off after use. Certainly damp areas of the country don't help the situation. (I have superb silver cases (not worn) that I have not wiped off in 50 years because they are stored properly; plus, I am very careful when handling same)
 
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StanJS

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I think I can safely say that some of the people that I buy watches from don't take care of them as well as Jon does. Below are two 3 oz coin silver cases. The one on the left is tarnished. The one on the right is well worn with a nice patina.

Cheers,
Stan
 

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william l. weeks

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Greetings, The buffed up highly polished cases seem to generate more interests on Ebay. Inexperienced buyers like the shine, but I like the natural toning from years of use. I have found that wearing a silver pocket watch in a watch pocket, jeans preferably, brings back the watches natural color. This works for all types of cases.
 

Nigel Harrison

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Greetings, The buffed up highly polished cases seem to generate more interests on Ebay. Inexperienced buyers like the shine, but I like the natural toning from years of use. I have found that wearing a silver pocket watch in a watch pocket, jeans preferably, brings back the watches natural color. This works for all types of cases.
Yes, unfortunately this is true about Ebay.
 

Jon Hanson

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The same holds true for nice silver US coins which have been ruined with value lost due to "cleaning.":mad:
 

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