I made a good start today. I almost didn't open the chipped, paper-covered chipboard box, as the lady at the antique store told us, "this set's in bad shape." She wasn't kidding - look:
yeah, those are cobwebs linking those two dinner knives together. The sugar spoon is from another set entirely. There are seven dinner knives, seven little spoons, three salad forks, six dinner forks, and eight large spoons. And of course, it's all tarnished.
But let's do the math here: I figured I can eke six settings out of this box, as we're not going to bother with separate salad and dinner forks (we're dining alfresco by candles in mason jars; I think we can get away with eschewing salad forks!), and for $45, it's a good deal.
As for the tarnish, I had just the thing:
Town Talk Silver Polish Spray is amazing. Spray it on, rub it off with a clean cloth (I use rags I cut from Cass' old flannel pajamas - the cotton nap is perfect for getting into the grooves in the floral pattern). A bit of energetic rubbing up will really bring out the shine. You don't have to buy this stuff from the British homepage, as I think many stores carry it - Restoration Hardware certainly does, Williams Sonoma may, and I think I've even seen it at my local Ace Hardware here in Greenwood, which has really nice cleaners available.
I did about a dozen pieces in less than 10 minutes:
Nice, huh? We looked them up: they're Oneida's "Briar Rose" design (silver plate), from 1948. I love how long the tines on the dinner forks are - they're so elegant.
We've also started picking up the table linens and are wrapping up the china (I have a few more pieces to show you). The linen napkins with the pick-stitching detail are from Goodwill; I only found 4, and whitened them up with bleach. A few threads are missing here and there from the pickstitching, but at 50 cents apiece, I think they'll do. Under them are 8 ivory cotton napkins from Value Village - more basic, but they'll do if I can't find enough linen by August. And the new china pieces? Lenox's Solitaire line. I picked up 4 salad plates and 4 saucers on sale at Goodwill for a total of $12. Considering that saucers were originally $15 apiece (the price tags, yellowing with age, were still stuck to the undersides), they were a nice find!