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Help Cleaning German Silver

I am just starting to repair turn of the century purses. I’m wondering if
anyone can help me with a cleaning solution for the frames of these
purses. Mostly they are German Silver, which I understand is not silver at
all. Can someone tell me what metals it is made of?

Also, I’d like to know how to clean the metal mesh, (chain mail) that many
of the purses are made of. I’m not sure of the metal, and most have no
real tarnish, just dirty from age and use.

Thank you so much in advance,

Hello Skye

German silver is also known as nickel silver. It’s a copper (62%),
nickel (33%) and zinc (5%) alloy that melts at around 1960F. If the mail
is just dirty, I’d go for a detergent in a water/ethanol solvent - the
ethanol is there just to speed the drying process so that the mail does
not start to corrode. Use o soft brush to get in between the links and
dry it in a clean environment. If there is corrosion, see how deep it
goes. If it’s only surface corrosion then I’d use a 10% citric acid with
0.5% Thiourea (it’s an inhibitor that stops the acid from attacking areas
of bare metal) bath, rinsing in water/ethanol afterwards. Please keep in
mind that these recommendations are suited to the metal only and does not
take any textile components that might be there.


German Silver is also known as Nickel-Silver. It’s Nickel, and contains
no silver at all!

To the best of my knowledge German silver is an alloy of copper and

Has anyone ever heard of Simi-chrome polish. The company name is
Happish and I can find it most auto parts stores. It’s a mag wheel polish that
works great on all metals. I use my fingers to put it on and a soft
cotton cloth to polish it off. It might take two applications to get a
good shine and will wash off with mild soap and a tooth brush. It should
work great on nickel silver.

Hope this helps
anine in sunny hot
Redding California

Hello Skye, Try a scrub brush with baking soda and water. Good luck, Tom