The best part of writing this column for the past 15 years has been the emails, phone calls and one-on-one conversations I have with my readers.
You arouse my curiosity, challenge my memory and send me scurrying to the computer for research on a regular basis. It was my greatest fear in starting this column that I would run out of subject matter, but all of you have seen to it that “what in the world do I write about this week?” has never crossed my mind.
Once a year I like to do a little “catching up” for those of you who’s questions I did not get covered in a column. So here are the answers to some of your unanswered questions.
Q: What is the proper way to clean old wicker? A: After dusting with a soft cloth, clean any areas with concentrated dust and dirt with a soft tooth brush. For areas with a high concentration of dust use a small hand vacuum. When the dust is removed, wash the wicker with arm soap and water using an oil based soap (I like Murphy’s Oil soap) using a “sponging” action rather than scrubbing. Then wash again with clear water until all soap residue is gone. It is important to let the piece dry thoroughly as sitting in a wet wicker chair can cause warping. The best place to dry old wicker is outside on a warm day with a slight breeze. Maintain your antique wicker by dusting it on a regular basis and don’t wash it more that once a year.
Q: How can I tell if my family silverware is sterling or silver plate? A: The most common maker of silverware is “1847 Roger Brothers.” If you find this mark on your “silver” it is always plate, as Roger Brothers never produced sterling. If your items are sterling they will most always be marked with the word “sterling” or a number indicating the purity of the silver. Look for the number 925 or the letters S or SS. Another simple way to tell is a simple magnet test. If your piece of tableware sticks, it is not sterling. If still in doubt you can send your silver to a refiner to be tested. These facilities use x-ray technology to test metal content and are 100 percent accurate.