Please provide us with the following information when submitting an inquiry, and someone from the Trefler’s team will help you determine the next steps.

Please describe your item(s) in as much detail as possible. Information such as dimensions, what materials the item is made of (i.e. wood, plaster, porcelain), and your item’s current condition are all very helpful for our experts to make an accurate estimate.

We suggest providing at least three .jpg images per item. These should include; one image of the entire object, and detailed views of the area(s) of damage and/or pieces. 

If you are submitting an inquiry for painting restoration, please provide an additional photograph of the back of the canvas.

Our team will review all inquiries and assess the best course of action to suit your needs.

We look forward to hearing from you.


2873Pondering pigments

An introduction to the fascinating world of pigments

The restoration and conservation work undertaken at Trefler’s studio requires a unique array of tools and materials to tackle the varied objects that come to us.  While each department tends to lean more heavily on its own specialized tools, there is one incredibly versatile material that all of Trefler’s artists rely on daily. This material is the pigment. 

From decorative arts, to painting, to works on paper and furniture; pigments allow our experts to do a myriad of things. Our artists are able to camouflage breaks and cracks in porcelain, in-paint missing portions of paintings and even craft the perfect custom finish on furniture refinishing using pigments.  No matter what needs fixing, pigments are key to almost every project. 

Laura Sheehan-McDonald, Trefler’s Vice President and  expert in color matching and decorative painting, explains that she relies on this invaluable asset daily at her work bench. For the last fifty years, the vast pigment collection at Trefler’s has evolved and today continues to grow to include some of the more common hues and some very rare and difficult to come by. 

Pigments are invaluable, but what actually are they?

A pigment is essentially a dry solute which is dissolved in water to create a substance like paint, stain, or dye. Dyes are often comprised of organic compounds like dried herbs or vegetable coloring, (think of Turmeric), whereas pigments are often created by dissolving inorganic compounds like minerals into water or another liquid carrier.

What are some examples of pigments? 

Throughout history, pigments have been developed from a wide variety of sources, some more creative than others. Royal Blue for example, was once the product of lapis lazuli, and vermilion, widely used in paintings by old masters such as Titian, was derived from a mercury compound. While many pigments were the product of experimentation of more commonplace minerals and inorganic compounds, others came from a variety of creative, and often quite unusual sources. 

One particular shade of yellow, known as Indian yellow, was made from the urine of cows exclusively fed a diet of mangoes. The production of this particular pigment was later deemed animal cruelty, and subsequently banned in Europe.

Because of people’s curiosity and attraction to creating art and objects with vibrant color, pigments have enjoyed use across almost every trade imaginable. The arts, fashion, consumer goods, technology, engineering, and even industrial food production have been directly shaped by development and application of pigments. 

628Giltwood Frames, Identifying Age & Value

Gilded, or gold leaf frames have endured in their appeal and value throughout history. Despite shapeshifting in style and ornament to suit prevailing sensibilities and tastes, the gilded frame remains iconic in both its ability to convey grandeur and command a viewer’s attention. It is this unflagging popularity over several centuries that has yielded countless examples of gilded frames to adorn both artworks and mirrors.

Material is Telling

The material a frame is made from can help determine its age more clearly than the style of ornamentation it is adorned with, especially as historical styles might have been repeated or reproduced even after their popularity waned.  If the frame is crafted from plaster or Compo, rather than purely wood-carved, then it was likely built no earlier than the 19th century. Earlier frames were made entirely from hand carved-wood. If you are unsure whether a frame is solid wood or plaster, its weight can give you a clue.

Identifying Real Gold Leaf

The gold-hued finish of gilded mirrors undeniably conveys value. Real gold leaf is hand-applied to frames with a process of painstakingly placing sheets of 22-karat gold leaf directly to the frame’s surface. It is the inherent value of the material that makes these antiques so precious.  However not all frames that appear to be gold leaf truly are. Some antique or vintage frames are gilded in a less precious metal than gold.

To determine if a frame is in fact real gold leaf, look to its sheen or hue.  Because gold leaf doesn’t tarnish, it will maintain its luster, despite its age.  One less precious alternative to gold leaf is a bronze paint finish. This finish has a gold effect but is more or less painted onto the frame using a brush. This is also something that has been commonly used to disguise damaged gilding more economically during a restoration. To spot a bronze finish, look for visible brushstrokes that are thick. Over time, a bronze finish can also appear discolored and brownish in tone.

If a finish appears more on the orange side, this may be another inexpensive imposter: metal leaf.  When trying to identify real gold leaf, look closely for gilding lines. These are faint lines where the gold leaf sheets overlapped during application and will indicate that your antique frame has value.

Examine the Back

Identifying the age of a frame to determine if it is antique, or vintage can be challenging.  If a frame is over 100 years old, it is typically considered to be antique, a status that unsurprisingly ascribes higher value to a piece.

Above: Opulent 19th Century French Louis XV Style Gold Leaf, Giltwood and Plaster Frame. Image Courtesy of 1st Dibs

It is because of this that reproductions are often intentionally distressed and made to look more mature than they truly are. One simple way to ascertain the age of a frame is by examining its back, or verso.

Here, telltale signs of an antique include age related issues like wormholes, warping, or even old hardware. Because these are challenging to mimic, a distressed reproduction frame is far less likely to have these indicators of age.

Historical Styles

While styles of ornamentation can indicate that an antique frame was created during a specific period in history, it is important to keep in mind that styles were popular over long spans of time and that reproductions were incredibly common. Because of this, style alone will not pin a frame to a certain origination.

In short, if you are investigating a frame that you are considering buying, or have recently acquired, keep these questions in mind:

Does it appear older than 100 years?
Is it carved from solid wood?
Do you see gilding lines?
Does it have a gold luster, rather than a brownish tarnish or yellow hue?

If you answered yes, then your frame may indeed be a valuable antique. With more research, or the help of a skilled appraiser, you can learn more about the history, age and value of your gilded mirror.

Regardless if it’s a hand carved Louis XV mirror, or a classical vintage reproduction from the 1950’s, it will undeniably add, in the least, plenty of visual value to your space.

Do you have an antique or vintage gilded mirror you’d like restored?

Our experts are able to repair damaged gold leaf, or even add a gilded finish for the first time to your framed mirror or artwork. Get in touch with a member of our team to learn more.

1312Silver Hygiene – Caring for Your Silver

Historically, silver as a material was coveted for its inherent hygienic properties. Antibacterial and antimicrobial by nature, silverware was regarded a luxury in part of course for its value, but also for its ability to prevent illness.
While silver adds a little extra to family gatherings around the dinner table, it gets seldom use as it’s often perceived as overly precious and hard to care for. At Trefler’s, we encourage you and your family to enjoy your silver flatware all year round; in fact, with continued use, silver develops an even more delightful sheen to it.
For added encouragement, our experts have outlined a few, simple tips to keep your silverware clean and well preserved.

Dishwasher Safety

A common misconception regarding silver maintenance is that it can’t be cleaned in a dishwasher. Using an appropriate soap, silver is perfectly safe in the dishwasher. Keep in mind to avoid mixing in stainless steel flatware in the same wash. An electrolytic action will discolor metals where they are in contact. For this reason, it’s important to avoid washing silver knives in the dishwasher as their blades are often stainless and can cause an unwanted reaction (as well as dull the blade).

Silver Polishing Services at Trefler’s

We are pleased to offer full silver polishing services, in addition to restoration, for any unwanted rust, discoloration and erosion. Rest assured your family heirlooms, as well as contemporary silver place settings, can be maintained effortlessly with our help.

Storing your Silver Correctly

It is important to always be sure to fully dry silver immediately after washing. Residual moisture can lead to water spots and rusting, which if left untreated can erode the metals and cause permanent damage to your flatware and serving pieces.

written by Nikki Stracka
Photo Credits: Remodelista