Caring for Antiques

You’ve just brought home the most precious piece of furniture you own – your first antique. You’ve been admiring it, and, after great consideration, carefully place it in just the perfect position. A few days later you notice it has a light dusting of powder — oh no, it’s dust — and you head for the cleaning supplies.

Wait! Before spraying that generic commercial wax over that beautiful patina which took over one hundred years to acquire, you should know a few things about caring for that piece of antiquity.

Take it from the pro’s, you needn’t spend much money to properly care for your treasures. All it takes it some education, and a little discipline, and you’ll be enjoying that beauty for years to come. According to the MacDonald Guide to Buying Antique Furniture, by Rachael Field, you can preserve precious antiques by following certain guidelines. Following are a few.

• Use a good wax polish. Wood naturally dries out as a result of the sap drying out from the fibers – generally a result of modern central heating systems.

• Sudden changes in temperature and humidity do the most damage. Wherever possible, keep the radiators nearest to the furniture turned off and keep fresh air circulating in the room.

• Keep a small bowl of water on top of a radiator ledge to add some moisture to the air. If this isn’t possible, consider having one bowl of fresh flowers in the room, summer or winter. (Caution: If flowers are placed directly on an antique, be certain to remove them prior to wilting, shedding, or dropping leaves. Petals, leaves, or pollen can stain wood.)

• Summer sun can fade natural pigment in wood and natural dyes. If this isn’t possible, consider having one bowl of fresh flowers in the room, summer or winter. (Caution: If flowers are placed directly on an antique, be certain to remove them prior to wilting, shedding, or dropping leaves. Petals, leaves, or pollen can stain wood.)

• Summer sun can fade natural pigment in wood and natural dyes. Keep curtains drawn where sunlight would be direct on an antique rug, furniture, tapestry, or needlework.

• Use cotton rags from old sheets or pillowcases to polish furniture.Use polish sparingly and rub lightly in a circular motion.

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