Who hasn’t had the pleasure of finding a great (silver) piece of history but then the frustration to see that it is all bent and twisted?
Well… There may be a way of fixing this.
A while ago, I found a very nice silver spoon, but as you can see, it was in a really bad shape. A few hours later and after some Internet research, I found out about annealing and quenching. I had to try…
How does this work? Basically, you need to heat silver up to an appropriate temperature. Some use a blowtorch but since I did not have any, I used the burner from my gas stove. When the right temperature is achieved, silver will turn into a cherry red color. Also, do not forget to use pliers or anything that would help holding the spoon as you heat it. (Needless to say, I know…) Be careful not to use tools that have metal handles since the heat will be transferred to those.
You then drown your silver right away into cold water. That is the quenching process. Silver reacts differently than iron. When you heat iron and then put it into water, it makes it harder and stronger. It’s just the opposite with silver. You heat it, then put it in the water, and it makes it soft enough to be worked on. That’s exactly when you can work on it and start unbending it. To do so, you should use wooden tools (They won’t leave marks on silver). I used a wooden spoon to both flatten it and give it back its scoop. I also worked on a wooden cutting board. After a few sessions of quenching, that it was what my spoon started to look like.
After a few extra sessions, my spoon looked much better. I just needed a few extra steps: annealing and cleaning. Annealing is the last process when you heat it but let it get cool by itself. THAT makes it stronger and stabilizes its new shape.
Finally came the cleaning (the quenching process will tarnish your silver and give it both red and dark stains).
Below is the final result. Maker is J&I Cox (NYC, 1817-1852) and the spoon bears the initials “AM”.
Here is one of the videos I looked at before trying this process on my spoon. It might give you a better idea of the steps to follow.