Hinge repaired on antique silver-plate Communion Flagon
The Communion Flagon (shown below in the center) is from an 1883 catalog of Meriden Silverplate.
I repaired the hinge by cutting a sheet of sterling with a design similar to the shapes on the handle. This sterling sheet (placed below the hinge) reinforced and concealed the repair. I also soldered a plain sterling sheet on the inside to conceal the repair.
The customer was very pleased with this repair and said, "We want you to know that this is beautiful work, and we're so glad to have 'found' you!!"
Working on this type of silverplate is very challenging. The white metal (sometimes called pot metal) melts at the same temperature as the solder. The low temperature solder contains silver but is not the same color as the silverplating.
Another problem is that the white metal is not very strong. This is why the hinge ripped out of the side. Adding some sterling wire or sheet helps conceal and reinforce the repair. Similar items as shown in the Meriden Silverplate Catalog often have handles, feet or decorative elements break off. I always make a real effort so that the repair is attractive.
Customers often ask if a silverplate object is worth repairing. If you look at the Meriden Silver Plate Co. catalog closely the original price for the Communion Flagon was $10. Obviously, that purchase price is interesting but not relevant to the current decision. The condition of your silverplate object may be important. In this example, the silverplate was in excellent condition, but an object that is over 130 years old can have a little wear and still look attractive. Not everything needs to look like new. It is also impossible to buy new objects with the character and styling of these Meriden Silver Plate objects.
Another issue that may factor into your decision in repairing silverplate may be sentimental value. In my opinion, there is no replacing sentiment.