Brass Collectibles



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Brass Collectibles: "You can bet your BRASS!"



Often times in the world of brass collectibles, a particular item will become dull over time, losing that luster that comes from the aesthetic beauty of the piece. The following are a few notes on brass, how to determine its authenticity, and how to clean it to restore its value.

Brass is a buttery yellow alloy of zinc and copper which has been manufactured for thousands of years all throughout the world. The uses of brass vary depending on the percentages of zinc and copper, and which other metals have been added to alloy to bring out specific properties, but they include cartridge cases for weapons, pipes, weatherstripping, decorative accents on homes, musical instruments, and household ornaments. The color of the alloy will also vary, depending on the amount of zinc: brass gets lighter in color with additional zinc, and can reach a pale yellow stage.

Brass is typically bright in color, almost like that of gold. To help you visualize it, think of the brass section of musical instruments, and you will have the right color and hue. Some brass collectibles are real brass, while others are brass coated. If it is real brass, a standard magnet will not stick to it, however if it is plated then nine times out of ten there will be some sort of attraction. If ultimately you are unsure, take it to a proffessional antique deal or pawn shop and have them give assess it.

Cleaning brass collectibles is important in maintaining their worth. Over time brass will lose its luster, so it's good to give it a makeover if and when it needs it. Restoring an item to its original look is also a good way to familiarize yourself with it. Here's what to do:

1. If your brass collectible has parts that are not brass, remove then as to avoid any damage incurred from the cleaning process. Lay your brass out on newspaper with something beneath that you don't mind getting dirty.

2. Using steel wool and paint stripper/acetone, scrub until you begin to see the original brass look of your collectible.

3. Once clean, use a product like Brasso to shine your item. Follow the instructions on the bottle.

4. Reassemble your item and enjoy its shine!

Depending on the size and intricacy of your collectible, you may have to make your own tools to clean it. If there are lots of little crevaces and hard to reach places, use skewers with wool wrapped around them to go deep into all the cracks and crannys.