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Fixing silver plated cream jug

Hi everyone! Have a question. I have been asked to re-attach the
handle onan antique silver plated cream jug. Where the handle was
attached, there are gobs of grey stuff that melts at quite low
temperature, and my attempts to warm it while holding the handle in
place (hoping the handle will stick in it when cooled as it would
have done originally) have failed. My first question, what is that
stuff likely to be? Some sort of lead based solder? I’m a bit nervous
about heating it too many times in case it is somewhat toxic, I don’t
want to be breathing it in! My other question, if the teapot is
silver-plated, (presumably brass underneath?), I guess it would be
very difficult or impossible to solder the handle on with silver
solder (getting the entire thing up to temperature without melting
the silver plate??). Your wisdom and advice is greatly appreciated!!

Kind regards
Sarah in Wales

Hi Sarah, The solder you describe is almost certainly a lead based
solder. You cannot silver solder the handle back onto a silver plated
article without destroying the original silver plating. To restore
the jug as best possible first you must remove all traces of the old
lead solder and clean up the joint between the handle and the jug
body. Also remove any lead solder from the handle. I am assuming that
the handle has a shaped surface that fits the jug shape where it
attaches, this area must be cleaned and checked that it still fits
the jug surface. Then I would flux the handle attachment surface with
lead solder flux and heat the handle gently while wiping the surface
with some lead solder, this will coat the handle fixing joint with

then flux the jug area where you need to fix the handle, attach the
handle in place, perhaps using binding wire to hold it in place, then
gently heat the whole item with a soft flame until the new lead
solder runs through and around the joint. Finally cool and wash in
soapy water and clean the joint with a stiff toothbrush. This is a
method using standard electrician’s lead solders, if the jug is to be
used then lead solders are not advised as they can be toxic. If so
then I would suggest using pewter solder. You can buy lead free
solders these days also if you prefer, see Amazon "lead solders"If
the job is just for a collector then the standard lead solders are
fine, but if it is to be used as a cream jug then opt for the lead
free solders. If the jug is an antique and may be valuable, silver
collectors do not like these items re silver plated. I have seen many
Sheffield plate items ruined by restorers who have them re silver
plated. I hope this all makes sense.

Peace and good health to all.
James Miller FIPG

Hello Sarah,

I’m a silver restoration specialist. I would like to see an image of
the teapot before advising how to reattach the handle. Heating the
pot to brazing temperature will melt the handle (at least) to a
gooey puddle. The pot’s body could be white metal, brass, or copper,
even zinc. The handle is most likely lead.

I’m very happy you stopped before doing damage.

Jeff Herman

Sarah, Most likely the handle is silver plated pewter. Depending on
the age (before 1974) it may well contain lead (AKA Britannia Pewter)
but modern pewters are devoid of lead and consist of mostly tin
(around 90%) and small parts of antimony and copper. Pewter is
soldered (not brazed) with a special solder that you should be able
to pick up at a jeweler’s supply. I have successfully resoldered
pieces in the past but it takes time and care to clean things first
and then prepare for the soldering process. Be very very careful. In
addition to possibly melting the pewter ( around 525-600F) not to
mention what might happen to the silver plate over brass which may
easily delaminate. Our own Peter Rowe has a very good article on
Pewter in the Orchid Archives.

Cheers from Don in SOFL.

Sarah- Step away from the torch. Good. Now take a deep breath. I’ve
done a whole lot of silver holloware repair over the years. The
handle is most likely made of a very low melting temp pot metal. So
are the finials,spout,feet, and most decorative additions. Do not
try to silver solder it. You’ll melt it and ruin the silver plating
on the body of the piece. The very best solder you can put this on
with is TIX brand. If you can’t find that, then try using tin or a
very low melting lead type solder to solder with. If possible use the
existing solder so that there will be little clean up. Do not take
the silver plated piece to a buff unless you want to re silver plate
it. Just a light hand polish with a good silver polish and some 100%
cotton flannel. Do not worry about lead poisoning. There isn’t enough
in this operation to hurt you unless you eat the stuff or have a
severely compromised immune system.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer

Thank you to everyone for your very helpful replies! The jug belongs
to my parents, it was inherited from my father’s family and is quite
old. They also inherited a plated teapot, it’s finish is quite
heavily worn presumably due to enthusiastic polishing over the
years. They mentioned that they might like to have it re-plated also.
One person mentioned that this is not a good thing to do to an
antique as it will reduce it’s value? I don’t think they are overly
concerned with value, but certainly they wouldn’t want to do
something to it that would ruin its integrity. I will pass this
on to them, and in the meantime I have ordered some
lead-free solder (melting temp around 220C) to re-attach the handle
to the jug. It was my initial instinct that I would need to clean off
the old solder and get some new stuff, so thank you so much for
confirming this, as well as determining the type i need. Very
grateful for your help! I will try to post a picture of the jug
online and send out a link for interest.