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Bill Gillham replies to Alan Kelsey and David Orfeur (The Finial; April/May '03 p.17 & June/July '03, p.20):-

The value of debate is that it clarifies issues.

Alan Kelsey's comment on the (respectable) trade of professional silver polishing is well made. But this only applies, as far as collectors are concerned, to new-made silver as a finishing stage. Many professional polishers are employed in stripping away the desirable characteristics of antique silver.

David Orfeur is attacking a straw man. No that is not me; but looking back at the relevant article (Part Two) I can see that I was not clear. So what did I intend?

Let me reply by analogy. In the hall of my house in England I have a large 17th century oak chest. It bears the honourable scars of 350 years - part of its history, character and aesthetic appeal. I would not dream of 'improving' those 'defects'. However, if my two-year-old grandson were to drag his toy lorry across the surface causing a new, deep and unsightly scratch I would do something about it, using fine steel wool and coloured wax.

The one spoon I 'treated' had analogous, recent, unsightly scratches - doubtless inflicted by a 'terrible two' or similar. Following the treatment I gave it the spoon bowl is much improved: it is even of a good colour.

Now, if you look at your spoons you will usually find that the bowls have received some kind of cleaning up - more so than other parts of the spoon. Perhaps it is not as recent or as deliberate as my 'improvements' - but with the same purpose.

In any case, unless I append a detailed confession, no subsequent owner will know the difference, and I feel I have resurrected a spoon. It is that which gives me great satisfaction: that you can take a spoon with a scratched, dented and buckled bowl and restore it (legitimately, I feel) to its former (pre-abuse) state - without making it like new.
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Robert Hamilton enquires about Insurance:- Have any members had experience of a claim for loss of silver and how did you find dealing with the Insurer. I don't think I am alone in wanting advice on the subject.
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John Downes-Hall of Corner House Antiques writes:- I suffered a heart attack on the evening of 19th June and have not been too "with it" since - Could you please thank those who sent & signed several cards to me and let all know that I am now up and about again. (On behalf of all the members, I wish you well with your recovery, and look forward to an article for us all to read. - Ed).

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The Antiques Centre York has written to the club: I would like to introduce The Antiques Centre York, The centre has the largest collection of antiques and collectable in the north of England and would welcome a visit from any of your club members.

The centre offers a free no obligation request service, which would be particularly useful for your members who are not based in the Yorkshire area. The centre sells on behalf of over 120 dealers based nationwide. The electronic request service is fast and efficient and yields good results.

If any of your club members are looking for those elusive items for their collections we would only be too happy to hear from them.

Contact: Liz Robson at The York Antiques Cente York, Allenby House, 41 Stonegate, York. YO1 8AW.

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The Finial, August/September 2003


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