Jeffrey Herman Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, June 2020, Consulting the Silver Expert

Consulting the Silver Expert

by Jeff Herman

Some random questions and answers

Q: Can I use powdered chalk and water to polish silver?

A The short answer is that it’s not recommended. Modern-day chalk is made with either calcium carbonate or calcium sulfate. There are different grades of both of these materials. Only laboratory-grade calcium carbonate is recommended; anything else is much too abrasive for your silver. Normally, the calcium carbonate is combined with denatured alcohol and worked into a slurry. The slurry is then applied with a moist cellulose sponge.

Q When was electroplating invented?

A Italian Luigi V. Brugnatelli invented electroplating by electrolysis in 1805. But it wasn’t until the 1840s that John Wright of Birmingham, England, discovered a more commercial process of electroplating using potassium cyanide. George Richards Elkington and Henry Elkington of Birmingham England—two cousins who began their research during the industrial revolution—bought the patent rights from Wright and were given the first patent for electroplating in the 1840s.

Mr. Herman continues to offer his services to our readers for any questions you may have about the care of silver. Either contact him at (800) 339-0417 (USA) or via email: jeff @

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.