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How to Love and Care for Vintage China

How to Love and Care for Vintage China

In the Treasure Chest store, we are often asked by some of our patrons how should they care for vintage china. Read on to found out about our tips.

Myself, having been a china collector for decades and used to have lots of vintage items means that I have gained real expertise in maintaining vintage ceramics and porcelain. I'll share with you how to keep it bright, clean and beautiful.

So here’s some tips for keeping all beautiful vintage china looking lovely and fresh.

Washing

  • Whenever we get “new” stock the first thing we do is give it a good wash, as after all we never know what’s been in.
  • If you are washing a teapot always remove the lid before you begin. Lids are the most vulnerable bit of the teapot and more likely to get broken than any other part.
  • Check the china over – are there any cracks or chips – we never use cracked china for food use – but blemishes are common in old crockery so just because an item has the odd uneven mark or colour spot – doesn’t mean that it is ruined! Inside teapots its quite common for the glaze to be imperfect. Marking beneath the glaze does not affect the taste of the tea or use of a teapot or cup.
  • Use a plastic bowl, lined with a dishcloth if necessary and only wash one item in the bowl at a time.
  • How hot is that water? Scalding water or direct heat can cause the glaze to crack or lift the gilding. Its one of the many reasons we never recommend using fine china teacups for scented candles – they may look pretty once – but be prepared that they will ruin the cup! Warm water is best for vintage china – and delicate hands!
  • Use a non-abrasive detergent. Vintage china does not fare well with dishwashers or modern detergents that might mark or scratch the gilding. We use “earth friendly” detergents. For more stubborn marks use baking soda, cream of tartar or salt. For very stubborn tea-marks then fresh lemon juice or white wine vinegar soaking overnight will usually do the trick – but toothpaste can also be good for ground in discolouring!
  • The best way of avoiding staining is rinsing the china immediately after use. Jam is particularly horrible as it will leach into the china turning it pink. Wipe and rinse as soon as you can.
  • For teapot spouts, use a cotton bud to get into the spout and clean thoroughly. Don’t scrub at the gilding as it can start to flake off. Do check for staining along the underside of the spout as this area is often overlooked. Use a cotton bud for the rim of the lid. Tea stains are common here too.
  • Dry your china with a clean tea-towel. This prevents smears.
  • If stacking or packing china or cups do not use plastic bubble wrap. This can cause the china to sweat and encourage moulds. Remember that very old bone china may have some organic content. Your china is best wrapped in thin dry paper or paper serviettes.
  • Keep your china at moderate temperatures – too hot or too cold and wild fluctuations in temperature will cause cracking.
  • Fine surface crazing from too hot water can generally be “healed” by placing the china in warm milk for 30 minutes before re-washing – we know – how amazing is that!

Washing crockery correctly is a vital part of vintage china care. If you keep these hints in mind you’ll keep your teapots and trios in tip-top condition…

but do remember to enjoy a cup of tea when you’re done! With a few biscuits of course!

 

 

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