How Do I Get an Estimate? The restoration process is very labor intensive with each project having its own unique challenges. The ideal way to estimate accurately is a visual inspection. This is why we strongly encourage you to send us your work. However, if you desire a "ballpark" price before you ship the work to us, this can best be achieved by emailing photos along with dimensions. If you are unable to send digital images, call, or write to us, about your project and we will do the best we can. You can refer to our finishes to help you decide what effect you desire.
Is My Item Worth It? This can be a complex question. The answer usually falls into two categories: the piece is irreplaceable, or it is (potentially) valuable. Something can be "irreplaceable" in different ways. You may have a drawer handle that is no longer made or very often you will find, "they just don't make them like they used to." This applies to many household objects in our modern "throw away" world. Oftentimes, we will take a "flea-market" floor lamp, castor set, or chandelier, then restore it and the amount spent is much less than the finished value. The other "irreplaceable" factor is sentimental value. Many items fall into this category: re-gold plating the Church chalice from 1856, polishing the samovar that your great-grandparents brought from Russia, restoring the flatware set which you inherited, or re-silver plating your yacht club's trophies. In the case of an antique, you are probably enhancing the value of it (see the next FAQ for more on this). With a repair such as putting a foot back on a teapot, these jobs are inexpensive compared to the value of the tea set.
Will This Decrease Its Value? It is a popular myth that replating antiques diminish their value. Our Company is about metal restoration. This means restoring an item back to its original condition. When we work on a beautiful candelabra from the 1880's where all the silver is missing, our job is to replate it in the same fashion as it was 120 years ago (see next FAQ). As a result, it will look the same as it did when it was first sold. It will be something that you will be proud to have on your dining room table instead of a black, unpolishable object that resides in a carton in the basement. Or, if you are in the antique business, you will have something that you can put in the showcase with a hefty price tag. However, there are a few instances when we advise against refinishing. For example, if you have genuine Sheffield Plate (these items are pre 1820 and are not marked with the word "Sheffield"). Another example would be a genuine Tiffany-brand lampshade which has the original patina. When these items enter our shop, we give our honest opinion of how far to go. Many times, we do as much as is necessary, such as a repair, and no more than that.
What Is Plating and How Long Does It Last? Plating is a process dating back to the 1820s. It is a coating of a layer of one metal deposited onto another using an electrically charged chemical bath. In the case of silver, it allowed the average person to possess objects that, made out of solid silver, had only been available to the wealthy. An item is first created out of a "base metal" such as copper, brass, nickel silver, Brittania, or white metal alloys. It is then highly polished, submerged in the bath (containing silver solution and solid silver), electrically charged for approximately one-half hour, and then repolished. Some modern-day companies first apply a heavy layer of nickel (to avoid the time-consuming buffing process) then a light layer of silver. We do it the old-fashioned way - careful preparation with a thick silver plate which gives the job a deep, realistic appearance and should last a good twenty years. The same applies to our brass, copper, and gold plating. Keep in mind that if something is solid brass or sterling silver, it does not require plating, just a professional cleaning and polishing.
What Is Lacquering and How Long Does It Last? Lacquering is a clear coating which is applied after an item has been refinished. The purpose of it is to preserve the finish and prevent tarnishing which occurs on brass, silver, and copper finishes. It has pros and cons, and we leave it to the customer to decide which is best. We recommend it for lighting, brass hardware, and many items which are strictly decorative. You should have many years of freedom from polishing, and it is removeable when necessary. We do not recommend it for any items which will contain food, water, or live plants. It is also impractical for many silver items. This is a case-by-case decision which we will be glad to discuss with you. It should be noted, however, that unlike our other services, we will not warranty lacquering.
How Long Does It Take? The turnaround time depends on two main factors: existing backlog in the shop and the complexity of the particular job. Obviously, the Thanksgiving/Christmas season is the busiest time for us, so we encourage that work to be in house by early fall. We also do have times when large projects will cause delays. Your job may also be delayed due to strict standards. If we are not satisfied with the results of a plating job, we will automatically redo it, however, this takes additional time. (For this reason, it is very rare for an item to be returned to us for rework.) In general, you should figure 4-8 weeks for most work, but please apprise us of special needs and we will try to accommodate.
How Do I Ship It to You? You may ship to the address above. Please enclose your name, address, daytime telephone number, and email address. You should also list what is enclosed and what needs to be done. We strongly suggest that you pack carefully and ship your items so that they can be insured, tracked and signed for. If it is more convenient, you may use a mail or packaging service to handle it for you. We will inspect your items upon receipt and will respond as soon as possible with an estimate. However, if you request an immediate acknowledgement of receipt of your items, please add a note to that affect.
How Do I Pay You? A one-half deposit is required before commencement of work on all orders exceeding $1,000.00. The receipt of this deposit will put the job in line as of that date. The balance is due upon completion and your items will be shipped only after payment has been received. For these two payments, we accept checks, Visa, and Mastercard. The credit card information can be called in to us or emailed
Do You Have Parking?
The Philadelphia Parking Authority allows you to park for fifteen minutes in front of the shop. Your hazard lights must be on. Do not park in front of the driveway across the street unless someone is in the car.