Posted by Karen Duke on 8/24/2017 to Decor
Having been in the fireplace business for nearly 4 decades, I rarely find a new fireplace accessory that's as nice as the old antiques. Moreover, the current love affair with all things contemporary found dwindling sales for brass andirons and virtually no sales for fireplace or hearth fenders, so most of our manufacturers have stopped making them. This is a tragedy as a historic home just begs for the elegance of finely made brass fireplace accessories!
Given that we specialize in old fireplaces we have turned to antique fireplace accessories to fill this need for our customers. The quality and detail found in vintage fireplace accessories is simply incomparable to what you find being made today, and if you did find it new then the price will make you gulp hard!
We do offer a rotating stock of antique fireplace accessories and sometimes we list them for sale before we can shine them up at times when we're just too busy to get to them quick enough, and price them at great savings in "as is" condition.
Here are some tips for helping you clean and restore vintage fireplace accessories such as andirons, grates, tool sets, screens and more.
First, wipe down with a simple cleaner to remove basic grime. If the tarnish and stains are heavy or if there is a lacquer coating, wipe down with a solvent or thinner like turpentiine. Next, use fine 000 or 0000 steel wool. (The higher the number the coarser the grit, and course grit can permanently scratch the brass). Follow up with a high quality brass polish like Noxon or Brasso. Apply the polish to a cloth rag and rub it on all surfaces. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes then rub off with a soft, dry clean rag. For finely detailed items you can use a soft bristle toothbrush for polishing. Repeat polishing with brass cleaner if needed for heavily tarnished items.
Keep in mind that one expects vintage brass to have an aged patina and while you can likely bring back the original yellow shiny color, maintaining this finish can be a lot of work. Clean, in my opinion, is perfectly acceptable!
Cast iron is susceptible to rusting which will greatly degrade the metal. Start off with a wire brush to remove surface dirt and rust. Next, wipe down with white vinegar, which helps kill the spores that cause the rust. Next, using a wire wheel on a drill and/or steel wool, polish the iron to get it as clean as possible. Wipe down with vinegar again and let it dry fully. Finish off by painting with high temp paint, using either wood stove paint or grill paint.