Silver Creamer


Owner: The Brooklyn Museum
Object Date: 1868-1828
Provenance: American, owned by David Wilkin
Materials: silver and copper
Dimensions: 18.8 x 19 x 9.5 cm

The object is a silver alloy creamer with a hollow cast double-scrolled handle with a scrolled thumb grip. The creamer has a hammered and plannished ovoid body with 12 lobes. A repoussé and chased floral scrollwork design is soldered to the shoulder of the body and the upper spout portion is hammered and plannished. The rim of the spout is ornamented with a thin band of silver that has been die-rolled with a scroll and flower design. The body is soldered to a hammer and plannished stepped oval pedestal base. A silver die-rolled band with a flower and scrollwork is soldered to the pedestal base. Within the recesses of the repoussé and die cut designs there is a dark pantina that helps emphasize the patterns. The bottom of the base has the inscription, “P B & C/N YORK” and there is a script monogram that reads, “DJW.”

The object is fair and stable condition. There are small dents on the lobes on the body of the object, with the most notable indentations on the three lobes underneath the spout. There is an overall distribution of silver sulfide tarnish that ranges from a dark black to an iridescent coloring. There is a fingerprint induced tarnish stain on a lobe on the body underneath the spout.  There are some minor scratches throughout the object and polish residue within some of the recesses. There is some green corrosion product along the underside and interior of the base visible along the join between the base and the body and also along the join between the bottom lip and the stepped portion of the base. This may signify the use of a silver copper hard solder (Metals and Corrosion: A Handbook for the Conservation Professional, p.56).

Historical Context
This tea set belonged to David Wilkin and accompanied his naturalization papers. David Wilkin was formerly of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, dated August 17, 1813.  According to the donor, he was the original owner of the set (TMS Notes).

X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy readings were taken with a Bruker-Tracer III-V+ instrument with a rhodium source, beryllium sample window roughly 3mm x 4mm in size, and a Si-Pin detector. Readings were done on the handle and on a center lobe on the proper left side (with the spout as the front). The results yielded both a strong presence of silver and copper. This may confirm that the object is indeed plated, or the copper might indicate a sterling silver. (40 kV, 2.0 mA, 10 sec with a vacuum) X-ray fluorescence was also performed on the center of the handle with nearly identical results as the other reading.

1. The object’s condition was documented with digital photography and a written report.
2. Cleaned overall with ethanol on a cotton swab or cotton diaper
3. Reduced silver tarnish with precipitated calcium carbonate mixed with ethanol and deionized water and cleared with ethanol
4. Removed harder to reduce tarnish with Silvo (a thick cotton wadding pad embedded with micro-fine aluminum oxide abrasives and moistened with mineral spirits)
5. In between treatments, the object was sealed in a polyethylene bag with Pacific Silvercloth (a calendared cotton velvet embedded with tiny sacrificial silver particles) and Hollytex (white nonwoven polyster fibers spunbonded from a continuous filament which results in a strong, lint-free, lightweight fabric with no added binders or pigments)
6. Removed Silvo with ethanol and petroleum benzene and remaining calcium carbonate with ethanol and water
7. Rinsed calcium carbonate residue with a spray bottle and soft bristle brush.
8. Applied two coats of 1:1 Agateen 27(cellulose nitrate) and thinner 1 with a brush and waiting 45 minutes between coats.
9. Once coating was completely dry, the accession number was painted with Golden’s acrylic paint in red on the interior bottom of the base directly onto the Agateen coating.

Before and After Treatment Photographs