Silver “Fireball” Dinghy

An enthusiastic fireball racing sailor asked if we could clean up his model silver dinghy. He lived nearby and so I asked him to bring it in for an appraisal.

When it arrived it was quite black through many years of tarnish. Not only did it need cleaning (which would involve dismantling it) it also needed protecting from any future tarnish.

Boat 2

One of the best ways of protecting such an intricate piece of silver from tarnishing is to electro-plate the article with Rhodium. The problem with this is that the rigging (running and standing) was fine wire which would be difficult to handle once Rhodium plated. So I chose white gold as the best material for the rigging.

We agreed a price and then I set to work dismantling the dinghy into its main components. It was then sent away for Rhodium plating. Upon return it was re-assembled and re-rigged using the white gold wire.

Boat done1Boat done 3







Result: a nice clean shiny dinghy fully protected from future tarnish.

Another satisfied customer!


Two wounded pieces of Silver

2018 got off to the usual start with some repairs. It is usually claret jugs or decanters before Christmas with people wanting to get their Christmas lunch table ready and everything else comes after. This year was no exception, although the claret jugs were a bit thin on the ground.

The two pieces so far are a worthless Britannia metal bottle frame and a 1930’s five light Corinthian candelabra.

First the Britannia Metal frame:

This is going to cost more to repair than it is worth in economic terms. The owner knows this but still wants it repaired. It is in quite a bad way and is going to take all our skills to repair. The bowls are suffering from metal fatigue which is obvious with the numerous cracks. These cracks will need to be soldered using a very low temperature solder. We will have to make this solder by alloying a high percentage of tin to some lead and rolling it into usable rods. The addition of tin will lower its melting point. Once the piece is all back together again and the cracks repaired the bowls can be gently rounded up.

3 bowl frame

Co-incidentally this item is from a local stately home where I had the pleasure to do some amateur archeological work as a teenager many years ago. The organizer Ken Marshall was undertaking a survey on Essex moated houses some of which had not survived. I and a team of youngsters from the Essex field club were the helpers.

Second the Silver Candelabra:

This is owned by a local freemason’s lodge which has several of them apparently. Being a rather poorly made palladium style piece made in the 1930’s in Sheffield it is not made for the regular use it has received and consequently is in rather poor condition. It has been made down to a budget from stampings and poorly assembled. It mainly needs a new finial making for the centre section. This would have been reasonably straight forward until it fell out of the car which delivered it. It now also has a broken arm as well.


Fortunately the workshop is not too busy at present so a slow and careful start can be made. This is by far the best philosophy with jobs of this nature which can often go from bad to worse if any attempt is made to rush the process.

Silver Alsatian Pendant

We have just completed an unusual job this week, which was actually a piece of jewellery. Not what JA Campbell are known for. The request was from a farmer friend of my son who wanted a little present. It was to be a silver pendant in the form of an Alsatian dog. I knew how to go about it, it was just a case of finding an image and getting it approved by the customer. The image was provided by Monica from R & M Engraving.

The next stage was to select a piece of silver sheet and polish one side and send it to the hand engraver couple, Mike and Freda Keen. Mike engraved the image onto the sheet and Freda (an extremely versatile Dutch lady, she even does sculpture) pierced the Alsatian profile along the line which Mike had engraved. On the collar of the dog was to be the name Lola. All I had to do when the newly pierced dog profile came back was to re-polish it, solder a ring onto the back, fit a silver chain, re-polish finally and place it in the presentation box.

The customer was delighted!


Improvised Silver Egg Cup

Some of us who have an early start to the day usually sit down to an office breakfast. Often there is not much in the way of cooking facilities and so it tends to be an egg of some description – poached, fried, scrambled or boiled.

On a boiled egg morning it is sometimes quicker (rather than looking for a silver egg cup) to find something in the workshop that will do the job. This morning it was the lower component of a Claret Jug top body. It does the job nicely and looks quite good!

What do you think?