Silver Cleaning in Museums

I recently noticed that several items on display in MUSA weren’t looking their best anymore. It’s part of a curators’ job to keep an eye on all the objects in the collection and decide when they need conservation or cleaning. As a rule, we try to clean things as little as possible to prevent damage to the objects. However as you will see from the photos, these silver spoons needed some attention if they were going to remain on display.

The silver spoons before cleaning

The silver collection of the University includes many fine examples of silver spoons dating from the early 18th century to 20th century.  At St Andrews, students entering the University were entitled to the use at mealtimes of a silver spoon during their time in college, in return for a payment.  Examples dating from the 18th century survive from St Salvator’s, St Leonard’s, St Mary’s and the United College (formed in 1747 by the merger of St Salvator’s and St Leonard’s Colleges).  These 18th century spoons are all of Edinburgh manufacture:  some may have been made from earlier spoons melted down and re-made.

Before and After!

I spent an afternoon gently cleaning six spoons and I’m really pleased with the result. There’s something satisfying about seeing how nice they look after a bit of love and care. The spoons were then placed back on display in MUSA for the whole world to enjoy.


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