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topic 18518

Refinishing old metal lamps



I have an old floor lamp that my grandmother has given to me. It is really old because it has cloth covered wire. It is a bronzy, goldish color but it has tarnished. How can I find out how to refinish it? How can I tell what type of metal it is or if it is a painted goldish color? Help!

Thanks to all who respond.

Jolene H [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Wetmore, Michigan


The simplest test is a magnet; if it's magnetic, it's iron-based, that is, steel or cast iron. In that case it could be either painted or brass/bronze plated. If it's plated, it's unlikely you can restore it yourself because the plating is probably gone in spots. So if it's magnetic and you don't want the expense of plating you would probably have to paint it.

If it's not magnetic, then it's probably solid brass/bronze and you can restore it with metal polishes. Try a mixture of vinegar and salt on an inconspicuous area; this is a very aggressive tarnish remover. Then try finishing up that area with Brasso [linked by editor to product info at Amazon].

It goes without saying that if you suspect an item is really valuable that an amateur shouldn't fool with it for fear of spoiling its value. Good luck.

There are hundreds of letters on line here about restoring brass and bronze items if you have the patience for a search.

Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live "Aloha"

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