Abbey Group

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When our oak dining table was damaged during our move we didn’t for a minute think that anyone would be able to restore it to its former state. The table was a wedding present, and so we are thrilled that you have not only repaired the damage so well that we can’t even tell where it was, but the table looks better than it has in years. I’m sure we’ll be back in future, and will be recommending your restoration services to our friends

James and Vanessa

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Fire and flood

We have extensive experience of providing restoration and repair from fire, flood and accidental damage.

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Bespoke furniture

Our craftsmen create bespoke furniture to meet your exact needs.

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Antique Furniture Restoration

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Insurance

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What Is A Patina?

7th June 2019

 

We all know that every material involved in the building of antiques is beautiful in its own way. Whether it’s wood, leather or metal, each is a natural material that has its own unique character, and brings a new visual aspect to every antique. As natural materials, they will all age in a particular way. Now you might be thinking – yes, things age. What’s the big deal? But the big deal about antiques and ageing material can be summarized in one word: patina.

What Is A Patina?

A patina is, in its most basic definition ‘a sheen acquired by age’ It’s usually found on metals and on wood, and is caused by the build up of wax and polish over the years, along with age, wear, oxidisation and sunlight. On metals like copper and bronze this can sometimes be called a ‘tarnish’, and will look like a greenish, bluish or blackish film on the surface. On wood, it will look more like a yellow or orange-ish stain, shifting in colour across the piece. This finish will build up naturally, and is generally considered a sign for a good quality, high-value antique. In fact, it’s actually become such a prized thing that jewellers will recreate a patina effect to make them appear older and more attractive. This is known as an ‘applied’ patina, as opposed to a naturally ‘acquired’ patina. 

Why Do I Need To Preserve It?

Put simply, because a good patina on an antique is a sign of value. Having a piece of metal or wood antique with a good patina sets it apart as genuine, old and much more valuable, and will often add money onto the value of the item. It’s also aesthetically pleasing. One of the reasons people are attracted to antiques is the ‘old, well-loved’ look they have, which is due mostly to the patina they have built up over the years. Without it, your furniture and antique silverware will look much like any others you happen to have in the house. When it comes to maintaining your antiques,  restorers will take great care to preserve the patina of a piece while they are working on it, and will never recommend that you strip back a piece of furniture and re-finish it, as it will ruin the patina and destroy the piece’s value.

How Do I Take Care Of A Patina?

If you’re lucky enough to own an antique with a good patina, you will want to make sure it stays that way. That means you will need to take care of your antique, paying particular attention to the finish and avoiding any damage to the patina itself. How you do this largely depends on the type of material, which can be broadly split into:

Wood: Wood patina is generally fairly easy to care for. The main issue is in the cleaning products you use. Try to use natural cleaners and avoid harsh chemicals or anything with bleach. Warm water, a 50/50 water/vinegar mix, or a specialist cleaner are your best options. You will also want to polish your piece once a year (potentially more if the piece is in everyday use), being careful not to overpolish. If there is any damage, make sure you take it to a professional restorer, who should be able to repair the damage without causing any harm to the finish. And whatever you do, don’t strip back the finish and re-polish it! Doing so will remove the entire patina, taking with it all the character in the wood and shaving hundreds off the value of the piece.

Metal: When it comes to metals, it can get a bit more complicated. You will need to polish your metal items regularly with a specialist polish designed to care for that specific metal. You also want to avoid washing them too often, and only using natural, gentle cleansers if you do. Another option is to ‘seal’ the patina with a sealant product. This will prevent rust or other damage, while still preserving the appearance and the patina beneath. This may stop the metal developing more patina over the years, but it will preserve it as it is.

At Abbey Group, we specialise in the restoration of antiques from across the Essex area. We’ve seen many antiques with gorgeous patinas come through in our time, and each has been utterly beautiful in its own way. To find out more about our restoration services, or how to care for your patinas, just get in touch today.

 

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