Tips On Cleaning and Care for Your Antiques


I was surfing EBay one day when I spotted a really unique Staffordshire pottery platter in blue and white transferware.  The pattern was “Antiquities” and the scene was a large, bold print of a Roman chariot with two rearing horses and Roman ladies standing around.  It was one of the most beautiful pieces I’d ever seen…at least underneath.  The problem was that on top of that beautiful transfer was an ugly looking, deep brown stain that covered almost the whole platter.  The lister stated that they had washed the platter with soap and water, and the stain didn’t budge, but they thought someone might be able to rescue it.  I debated.  The opening bid was $50, and that was a lot of money to throw away on a dirty piece of pottery that may or may not be salvageable.  But then again, I knew that in pristine condition the platter would have booked for three or four hundred dollars, and the pattern was so pretty, I couldn’t resist.  As I placed my bid, I told my sister, “This is either the best buy I’ve ever made, or the worst.”

Turns out, it was the best.  After winning the platter – I was the only person crazy enough to bid – I took it to a local lady who had taken a class on pottery cleaning and repair.  I paid her another $50 dollars, and off she went with my platter.  Two months later, the platter came home, mostly stain free and looking gorgeous.

It seemed a little bit like magic – I had sent away an ugly duckling, and gotten back a swan.  But I knew it wasn’t magic, I knew that if she could do it, so could I.  I just had to find out her cleaning method;  what she did, what products she used.  I should clarify here that this was right at the beginning of the internet, so people weren’t used to running out to Google to find answers on any and every question.  Now, of course, with the internet at your fingertips, you can easily look up all kinds of information on cleaning pottery, whereas before such information was like a closely guarded secret between antique dealers.

What I have attempted to do here, is to gather all the information together in one place, and to weed out the ‘good’ information from the ‘bad’.  I have in essence, done the leg work for you, now it’s up to you to try out some of the cleaning methods and make an ‘ugly duckling to beautiful swan’ story for yourself.