Lacquers & Waxes ©
Lacquering silver and silverplate is generally not recommended for a number of reasons: 1. The individual may not properly prepare the object's surface to accept the lacquer. 2. It's very difficult to obtain a uniform coating, even when applied by a professional. 3. If the coating is not applied well, it may have streaks and small holes, allowing tarnish to form. 4. Lacquer will eventually yellow and crack, allowing tarnish to form within the fissures and eventually under the protective coating. Strong solvents must then be used to remove the lacquer and the piece refinished. Take a look at this piece trhat was once lacquered by the traditional spray method...
In the case of lacquering silver for museum display, Agateen lacquer #27 was found to be the most successful coating as tested by the Winterthur Museum conservation department. It is an incredibly time-consuming, toxic process and must be done in a controlled environment.
Because of the above issues, Renaissance wax – an archival micro-crystalline product – is a better choice. Renaissance will not yellow or crack and will last for years if handled properly. When applying Renaissance, do so in small areas at a time (no larger than a 3" square). Buff with a soft cotton cloth, cotton ball, or makeup pad immediately. Overlap each area to insure the entire surface gets coated. Renaissance is not as durable as lacquer, so the object should be handled with heavyweight cotton inspection gloves as acid from fingers may eventually remove it. Since dust can be acidic and eventually wear through the wax, placing your silver in a closed display will help insure that particulate will not fall on the object's surface. Whether inside or outside a display case, every few months gently wipe the object with a Selvyt cloth or soft cotton cloth. This will keep the wax or silver polish with tarnish protectant from breaking down prematurely. Renaissance should not be used on flatware or other surfaces that will be used to eat or drink from. It can of course be used on the exteriors of coffeepots, creamers, and the like.
Meguiar's Quick Wax
Another tested and proven long-term tarnish protectant is non-toxic Meguiar's Quik Wax. This auto wax is sprayed on, then buffed with a cotton cloth. Though non-toxic, Meguiar's should not be used on flatware or other surfaces that will be used to eat or drink from. It can of course be used on the exteriors of coffeepots, creamers, and the like.
I prefer Meguiar's over Renaissance because it's 1. non-toxic, 2. easier to apply and buff, 3. less expensive. Meguiar's can be found in most auto supply stores.