Gold Harp Care
The gold on my harp is tarnished. Why?
Did you know that gold does not tarnish? As your harp ages, the gold
will appear to change in tone and brilliance. The gold on your harp is
sealed with lacquer or on some older harps it is sealed with shellac to
protect against staining and fingerprints. Therefore, it is the lacquer
or shellac that is changing and developing a patina. While the patina of
age can be desirable, the gold can be brightened by having a gilder
carefully remove the old sealant and apply a fresh new coat.
The gold on my harp is worn away and has dings and gashes. Can these be
Wear and tear is unavoidable when handling and moving your harp.
Oils and perspiration from your hands can wear away the protective
finish and gold. When handling your harp by the column, use a soft,
clean cloth or clean cotton gloves reserved for that purpose. Avoid
grasping the sound holes on the body and use the handle. Did you
know your jewelry can also damage your harp? This includes
ungilded harps as well. Remove your rings and bracelets when handling
and playing your harp. Avoid repairing the gold yourself.
Many “repairs” have been made with craft store gold paint. Short term
patching or touching up damaged gilding does not work because gilding is
not a forgiving medium and does not patch well. It is difficult to blend
the patching with the original gilding around it. The process would
actually take longer trying to do so, especially if there are multiple
areas. It is more efficient for the gilder to strip the area and do a
thorough regild for quality and uniformity. It is a much better long
do I clean my gold harp?
Harps get dirty. The bottom portion of the column, the baseboard, base
and feet get it the worst with years of dirt embedded in the
ornamentation. NEVER put any type of cleaning fluid on the
surface. Major cleaning should be done by a gilder. To avoid or reduce
dirt accumulation, practice a preventive measure of dusting your harp
regularly with a soft clean cloth and dust the ornamentation with a soft
paint brush reserved for that purpose. Also cover your harp when not in
use and avoid direct sunlight.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2014 edition of the Historical
Harp Society Bulletin and is reprinted with permission of The Historical
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