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Monday, May 16, 2011

From Trash to Treasure!

Ok, so maybe this silver chafing dish wasn't exactly trash....but almost!

A couple of weeks ago, Erik and I stopped in at a local salvage store called Mansion Architecturals, which is only a few blocks from where we live. It also happens to be next door to one of our favorite antique shops. We've stopped in there before to buy a few antique doorknobs for the house. The owner of this store frequently makes trips to the Chicago area and other cities to salvage whatever he can from old Victorian buildings and homes that have been torn down or are condemned and slated to be razed. Needless to say, the place is filled to bursting with antique doorknobs, keyplates, hinges, light fixtures, mailboxes, doorbells, bell pulls, stained glass windows, leaded glass, columns, corbels, molding, spandrels, fireplace mantels, andirons, doors and door frames, pieces of decorative fencing and many, many other wonderful Victorian-era things. There are often times bedroom furniture, pictures, stoves, bathtubs, chairs and silverware to be found in the shop also, salvaged from these great old derelict homes. A great number of items are dusty, dingy, rusty, chippy, shabby and just plain filthy......but underneath, there is beauty that can be restored, somtimes with just a little bit of effort.  

I spotted the chafing dish lying amidst a jumble of other stuff in an old bathtub in the corner of the shop; a recent acquisition that hadn't been sorted through yet. Erik was immediately enamored of the lion's heads on the legs of the chafing dish. I was very doubtful that this thing could ever be restored or cleaned. It was REALLY BAD. The picture makes it actually look BETTER than it was. I thought it might be "too far gone", but the shop owner said we could have it if we wantede to give it a try. He thought it wasn't good for anything but scrap. I had my doubts too.

Yet, to my surprise,I have actually succeeded in cleaning it up pretty well. I'm not quite done with it. I'm still working on the bottom part. I discovered that this chafing dish actually has a copper core, which explains why it's so dang heavy. I did find some maker's marks on the bottom, where it also says 'silver over copper core'.  It took me 2 hours and three bottles of Tarn-X and Wright's to get it this far. There were times when I thought I would never get this thing clean. The dirty polishing rags and Q-tips were piling up around me, my rubber gloves were black with tarnish, and STILL there was more black than silver showing. But I perservered.

It's actually quite an attractive piece.

Some of the black on the piece seemed actually to be soot......I have to wonder if this thing was in a fire, or someone had tossed it into a fireplace chimney. It could have been at the bottom of a cellar hole for all I know.....or a sewer. Some things are just better not known!

Some of the silver plate seems to be missing on this bottom part; it almost seems burned off, which is one of the reasons I wonder if this thing was in a fire or maybe it burst into flames when it was being used, haha!  The little handle thing flips open a cap where there is a cotton wick underneath. The well holds the oil. It opens up for filling.
The word "chafing dish"  comes from the  Middle English word "chafing", the present participle of the word "chaufen" or "chafen", which means "to warm". It first came into use in the 15th century.
I have no idea how old this piece is, ( or if it's even old at all) but it's very pretty and I am glad that we dragged it out into the light.

Thanks for stopping by!


Pam of Eastlake Victorian said...

Wow, what a difference! I hope you can get the bottom looking just as great! I tend to shy away from silverplate antques, because some have had too much plate loss to ever clean up nicely. But some, like your piece, are worth a try!


Pam said...

That really cleaned up well. I've never seen a chafing dish with the oil well in the bottom, I usually see the more modern ones with the place where you put the candle things. Great find. Glad you saved it!

ali said...

I love that place! The basement is packed with stuff, it's like a homeless shelter for hinges and doorknobs, etc. Good job cleaning up the dish!

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

Your new dish really cleaned up nicely, love the detailing! Thanks for the tip about adding food coloring to the water for the peonies, with Memorial Day coming up I think some red, white and blue would be so fun:@)

Ann@A Sentimental Life said...

how lucky you to a chance on it and it payed off! beautiful!

Heather said...

Wow! All your hard work has paid off! What a lovely piece. Wish I lived nearby that store. It sounds like a neat place to visit!

victorian parlor II said...

Wow-that is beautiful!!! It was well worth the effort:).



Rebecca said...

The lion heads are so cool on this piece!

Marigene said...

Cool piece! That is a lot of polishing...it came out fabulous, though.

Richard Cottrell said...

Don't you just love a freeby? And this one is such a dandy. Good luck with the rest of you're cleaning. Thanks for stopping by my blog today. Richard at My Old Historic House.