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Re-gilding a silver snuff box

barredbennybarredbenny Member
edited January 2019 in Snuff Accessories
I have a sterling silver Victorian table snuff box that I bought a few years ago. I got a good deal on it because the interior (which is traditionally gilded) was heavily pitted and tarnished. I have been wanting to restore it for a while and finally had a chance to do it over Christmas. While they are originally gold plated, I thought I would restore it with some real gold leaf. Here is the box in its cleaned state.


Gold leaf is applied over an adhesive ('size'). I have used an oil based one.


After letting the size dry for an hour and a half, it was ready to take the gold leaf. I used 23.5 carate leaf - not as expensive as it sounds, though. I used about 7 gbp worth.


  • barredbennybarredbenny Member
    edited January 2019 PM
    The brush on the right is a gilder's tip, used to pick up the leaf. It crumbles upon touching it with your fingers.

  • A progress shot doing the final touch ups - the brush (a gilder's mop) is used to smooth out and polish the leaf.

  • And the finished gilding!

  • tobaccobobtobaccobob Member
    edited January 2019 PM
    Nice work!!!
    And you can always add another layer and another and another....

  • Very nice!  :)

  • SammyD13SammyD13 Unconfirmed
    @Barredbenny Beautiful- great job!!
  • Good job.
  • That is a beautiful thing! I've looked at antique silver boxes before but have always found (in my price range at least) them all to have similar corrosion.

    Was this your first time plating with gold leaf? What was the cost all-in for the tools, adhesive etc and around how long did the whole process take? Has any residue smell dissipated?

  • Thanks! 

    It was the first time I used gold leaf, yes. The necessary bits were the size (glue),the gilder's tip, the leaf itself and the varnish I used to seal it and make the leaf a bit more durable from finger scratches etc. For tamping and polishing the leaf, as well as applying the size and the varnish you could use any soft artist's brush really. 

    Applying the leaf took about an hour or so. It's quite fiddly and I am sure it can go a lot quicker once one gets used to working with gold leaf. Getting it into the nooks and crannies of the box is the most difficult bit. There are a lot of helpful videos on Youtube that give you a good idea (it's mainly wooden picture frames they are gilding, though). 

    I probably spent about 35 gbp all in, but I have plenty of everything left to use in other projects so it's not too bad. It also meant an old snuff box could look its best again, so I felt it was worth it. 

    The smell of the varnish is fading at the moment. Apparently, it takes a few weeks to fully dry out so I expect it will lift. I am hoping the varnish will not react with any snuff, but I haven't tried that out yet. It's a bit of an experiment - I will report back!
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