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How to Identify Old Brass Candlesticks

Updated February 21, 2017

Many homeowners love brass and long to obtain genuine authentic pieces such as light fixtures, lamps and candlesticks. You may feel the same way, but worry that you will be duped into buying an imitation or a piece inexpensively plated with brass. The majority of antique brass candlesticks are solid, while most new pieces are not. Educate yourself and practice a few tricks that will tell you the truthful value of those brass candlesticks. Once you know how to identify real, antique solid brass, you can pick out the treasures from the trash at estate sales, yard sales and auctions.

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  1. Wipe the candlestick with a soft cloth. Solid brass should wipe clean easily, with only a little effort. If the dirt will not lift even with vigorous rubbing, it is likely rust and the candlestick is probably not brass.

  2. Touch a magnet to the side of the clean candlestick. If the magnet sticks, the candlestick is not brass or is skimpily brass-plated. If the magnet falls off, the candlestick is probably genuine brass, since brass is non-magnetic.

  3. Turn the candlestick over. Scratch the bottom with a safety pin, straight pin or tack where it will not show. Examine the colour inside the scratch; white or silver means the candlestick is not brass or is brass plate and bright yellow means the candlestick is solid authentic brass.

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Things You'll Need

  • Soft cloth
  • Magnet
  • Safety pin
  • Straight pin
  • Tack

About the Author

Jourdan Townsend has been writing since childhood. Her articles appear in a collection of student works at the University of Oklahoma as well as in the school's "Honors College Journal." Townsend also composes poetry, some of which can be found in an edition of the "Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans." Townsend holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication.

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