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Strolling through the aisles of thrift stores and antique markets, you’ve probably come across dozens of brass candlesticks. After buying a few here and there for your home, it’s natural to wonder if these things are worth anything.
Most brass candlesticks fit inside the $10-25 range of worth, going up to a couple hundred dollars depending on the manufacturer. However, 19th Century and older candlesticks, especially of the Queen Anne and Victorian varieties could be worth $500-6,000!
How can you tell if your brass candlestick is an antique? Can you tell if your candlestick is brass or bronze? What about styling your room or cleaning them to look good as new? Read further for answers to these questions and more as we explore the world of brass candlesticks and their worth.
The Scoop on Brass Candlesticks
Like all antiques, value depends on various factors such as the condition, brand name, style, and age. If you find an original brass candlestick from the 19th century of the Queen Anne variety in excellent condition, it’s probably worth quite a lot, especially if you have a set of two. On the other hand, if you have a brass candlestick made in the 20th century, even if made by a quality brand like Tiffany, it probably won’t be worth more than $50-60.
I say probably because it’s difficult to place a value on something you love. At the end of the day, if you love the brass candlestick you own, whether because of its unique design or because its an heirloom, ultimately you get to decide its worth if someone wants to buy it from you. Just don’t claim it is of an era or from a manufacturer that its not.
How Can You Tell if Your Brass Candlestick Is Antique?
According to Terry Kovel, a brass candlestick expert and collector, true Queen Anne brass candlesticks from England in the 1700s possess certain qualities. Originally, two brass sections were soldered together for durability, so authentic brass candlesticks have a seam that runs along them vertically.
Another telling sign of an original brass candlestick shows in its light weight. Turn your candlestick over and if it has rings cut into the bottom, it signifies that a lathe was used to trim out excess brass. This was due to the fact that these candlesticks were sold by the pound, so artisans removed as much brass as possible to sell them cheaper than their competitors. This still happens in the modern day, though, so this must be a quality combined with other telling signs to identify it as Queen Anne.
Victorian era candlesticks lack a seam running vertically because the top and bottom pieces were soldered together in a more discrete way. However, these candlesticks also are lighter in weight with brass soldered out on the bottom. A distinguishing feature of a Victorian candlestick is the “button” on the bottom that lifts a used candle out of the holder to replace.
How Do I Tell the Difference Between Brass and Bronze?
The main identifier between brass and bronze, according to a post on Metal Supermarkets, lies in the appearance of rings on the surface. If the item is true bronze, you will be able to see faint rings on the surface, whereas brass will be completely smooth.
Also, bronze typically appears much duller and darker than brass. It looks almost brown in some cases and tends to possess less shine than brass. Interestingly, bronze tends to show up in Catholic churches and other religious places like Christian churches or Jewish Synagogues. So if your candlestick has a religious theme, it is likely bronze instead of brass.
On a fundamental level, for the most part brass contains copper and zinc and bronze contains copper and tin. Of course, many different types of brass and bronze alloys exist containing other elements besides just copper, zinc, and tin.
What’s More Expensive – Brass or Bronze?
Bronze remains more expensive (and therefore worth more) than brass because it contains more copper than brass. It also contains tin, which is higher in value than zinc. Brass contains much less copper than bronze and the cheaper material zinc as opposed to the tin in bronze.
Bronze candlesticks are worth more also due to their corrosion resistance, meaning they look the same for much longer when cleaned well. Brass candlesticks tend to patina more quickly, which can be good or bad depending on what you prefer.
How Do You Clean Brass Candlesticks?
If you don’t like the look of patina, you probably want to clean your candlesticks once or twice a year. The best option is to purchase an affordable cleaner made just for brass. Check out these brass cleaners on Amazon:
Before you jump to this step, make sure you check to see if there is a lacquer on the surface (is your item peeling in any places or is it tarnishing?). If so, just use a mild soap and warm water to gently clean the surface because the lacquer will protect it from tarnishing if kept in tact. If it’s peeling off a lot, consider taking it to a professional to refinish it (Note: this can be expensive, so only do this if the candlestick is worth it or if it’s an important family heirloom).
Next, determine if your candlestick is pure brass or has brass plating. According to an article on Clever, you can stick a magnet to your candlestick and if it falls off, it’s pure brass. Otherwise, it’s brass plating and you should not polish it (this will make the brass plating flake off).
Styling Your Home with Brass Candlesticks
Now that you’ve determined whether your candlestick is brass or bronze and if it’s of Queen Anne or Victorian descent, you need some inspo on how to decorate with them in your home. If that’s the case, I’ve got the perfect post for you: 15 Chic Ways to Decorate with Brass Candlesticks.
Vintage Options and Vintage Dupes
Part of my mission is to make antiques and vintage-looking items more accessible to anyone who is interested (even if you don’t have the time to wander the aisles at a good antique market). For direct links to vintage and vintage dupe brass candlesticks, check out this post (coming soon!).
If you happen to have Queen Anne or Victorian candlesticks that you think could be worth $500 or more, be sure to get them appraised by a local antique appraiser (preferably one with expert knowledge in candlesticks). You can normally find an appraiser with a quick Google search for local antique appraisers.
Brass candlesticks make an excellent addition to any room in your home, no matter your design style. Even if you don’t have a candlestick worth a lot of money, it still makes for a beautiful addition to your home. Like any true collector would say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if you think your candlesticks are beautiful, then that is worth something (at least to you)!