Neither you nor I are ever thinking that taking care of our precious antiques can damage their value or even destroy them.
So many of us make expensive mistakes handling our antiques and we do not realize that until it is too late.
An improper care can and will damage the antiques and the effect will be visible only when you are about to sell the collection.
After watching a person almost destroying a Stradivarius, trying to clean it with oil instead of wax only to see it shine, I had to look into the advice my own grandma used to give while she was cleaning her precious treasures.
I will have to say that cleaning an antique is not an easy job and for sure is not a job for anyone. A very good example is the one I have seen at my friend’s house where a very hardworking maid was eagerly cleaning with a cloth full of …cleaning solutions nothing else than a Roycroft brass lamp, almost erasing the specific time pattern.
I must say that the fault did not belong to the very well intentioned maid but to my unknowing friend that in the hurry to have a crystal clear house forgot about the delicacy of his antiques.
The professional cleaning of the antiques should be left to a professional. A person knowing how to treat them makes the right choices and is very careful with the delicate nature of our treasures.
Furniture reconditioning by yourself is not a good idea either. I have seen it many times destroying the precious pieces of antique furniture and I feel I must underline that in this area “less is more”.
This means that the less you interfere with the initial finish, the better. If you are in the possession of a rare piece of furniture[furniture designs], let’s say a Victorian desk like I am, messing with the initial finish destroys the object for sure.
A light dusting and cleaning is more than enough, the more complicated cleaning being wise to be done by professionals.
The common thing, paper, textile and old plastic antiques manufactured in the first years of the craft share, is the damage the direct sunlight exposure can cause them.
I have seen paper, including old photos cracking under the sunlight, turning yellow and becoming unrecognizable. The old textile materials are in a danger to become pale and lose colors turning from an object you would be proud to leave as inheritance to your children a damage antique that has lost its value.
I remember a medieval tapestry I found in the attic of a house I bought long time ago, that have been exposed to constant light and that have caused permanent damage to a beautiful love story of Tristan and Isolde brought to life in silk.
The colors were dead and the pale representation was almost invisible. Such a terrible waste had made me very sad then and still does every time I remember it.
The fragile world of antiques is something every man values and eventually comes across it when a unique piece comes his or her way.
The secret in protecting these treasures is to give them a little bit of attention only to be rewarded with the gift of a great value and the even greater honor to own them.