Two elegant figures stand atop a pewter tennis court. An intricately designed and elaborately crafted net stands between them. Over the years, the pewter under the silver plating had corroded, but the 100-year-old cigar box was a work of art.
The female figure, adorned in an old-fashioned skirt and top, emblematic of a time long ago, gazes intently across the small court while her partner, a male character, appears nonchalant and unbothered as he stares off in the distance. In between them, a net, so that you can almost hear the tennis ball bouncing off the court.
This piece of tennis memorabilia was crafted in the early 1900s. It was recently purchased by one of Biro & Sons’ oldest clients, an 80-year-old tennis aficionado who continues to play the game she loves and brought into our shop for a little TLC.
Relics as old as this often need to be repaired and restored, no matter how well they’ve been taken care of over the years.
The number one challenge of a piece like this, explains Rick Biro, is in fact, the age.
“It’s made out of pewter and silver-plated,” he shares. “Pewter has a tendency, when it gets really old like this, to get corrosion that builds up under the plating. And when you remove the plating you get these rough spots where the corrosion has been eating away at for years.”
When it showed up in our shop, the piece needed some serious work. Previous repairs required repair. The skirt of the female figure was almost destroyed. The silver plating was in horrible shape and needed re-silvering, while the top portion of the racket’s frame was missing. The cigar box itself desperately needed to be refinished as well.
Removing the characters from the box top was the first step in bringing the Tennis Cigar Box back to life. That way the Biro team could pay particular attention to each.
“The skirt was really damaged. It was chewed up with corrosion,” Rick remembers. “Once we removed the silver-plating then we had to repair the pewter corrosion. We filled it with solder and then recut the dress lines with a Dremel tool, kind of like something a dentist would use.”
To repair the racquet, Biros handcrafted the missing top portion which required a great deal of precision to get in exactly the right place at the right angle.
The entire piece required new silver electroplating after the characters repair.
Once the tennis court on top was complete, Biro & Sons refinished the rest of the box as well, restoring the piece to its former glory.
Happily picked up by its owner, the tennis heirloom now sits with the rest of the collection looking sparkly and new, as the Biro & Sons team revels in another job well done.