Cleaning that dirylite!

I mentioned the dirilyte in a previous post as being one of the many tasks this “Hausherr” had come up with for himself before the arrival of the Christmas holidays.  Originally I had set the Thanksgiving date as the goal for its cleaning.   I didn’t manage to pull that off.  Last week, I did about half of the polishing, today I completed it. 

The job of cleaning this dirylite was tough as I had purchased about half of the current set on e-bay.  The pieces I bought on e-bay were in serious need of cleaning as they were very tarnished.  I find that it doesn’t tarnish as badly or as fast as silver or silver plate but if it is allowed to tarnish, it is tough.  I am at the point where each time it has gotten easier.  I am sure the next time will require very little elbow grease.

The original set was bought by my paternal step-grandmother for my parents as a wedding present.  My family was very blue collar and my parents  were the first generation of American born.  I have not inherited a lot of beautiful pieces of this and that because there weren’t any to inherit, but I did inherit the dirylite when we moved my mom out of her house and I cherish it.  It is very unusual and very Art Deco in look.  The pattern we have, called Empress, is quite plain, something I truly appreciate.

Here is a quick explanation of the silverware and its history that used to be posted on the company’s web site found on this site: http://www.finishing.com/103/66-2.shtml
Dirilyte, as it is known today, was originally called Dirigold. The Dirilyte metal was originally developed by Carl Molin, a Swedish metallurgist, in 1914. While presenting his Dirigold items at the New York World Fair, Molin experienced such tremendous acceptance that he decided to return to Sweden to earnestly manufacture and develop the Dirigold line.

After weeks of planning and experimentation, the company started production in 1919. It was at this time that Mr. Molin was joined by Oscar Von Malmborg and the Dirigold Company was formed. At the conclusion of the Golhenburg Exposition in 1923, during which a large quantity of Dirigold was sold, the young company was approached by Swedish-Americans who proposed that the company move to America.

In 1924, Mr. Von Malmborg moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota and formed a selling company, while Mr. Molin stayed in Orebor, Sweden and continued manufacturing the golden-hued tableware. In 1926, the decision was made to manufacture the Dirigold product in America.

1935 saw the Federal Trade Commission bring suit against the company, charging that the “Dirigold” name was misleading to the public, as there was no gold in the product. As a result, the company was forced to change its corporate and product name. The company was renamed The Dirilyte Company of America, and the product was called Dirilyte.

Dirilyte is a handcrafted item with the warmth and beauty only hand work can achieve. The pieces are individually finished by skilled craftsmen with years of experience.

Dirilyte metal is a very hard and durable bronze alloy, much harder than sterling silver. Its rich, warm golden color extends all the way through each piece. Dirilyte flatware, holloware, and awards are solid. There is no plating used. Production of flatware and holloware stopped in 1986.

Alfred M. Baggett
– Memphis, Tennessee

Traditions are oh so important in our family and this silverware is part of that scenario.

About Richard Koerner

Sixty something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.

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8 Responses to Cleaning that dirylite!

  1. Kathleen wozniak says:

    How do you clean dirilyte?

    • In my estimate, the dirylite is a type of brass. The suggested polish is found here:
      Click here. I usually do a major cleaning once a year. I have purchased pieces from e-bay, some of them came to me really tarnished. I would used a very fine steel wool with the polish for stubborn stains. Of late, I have been doing that major cleaning and when I used pieces here and there during the year, I wash them with Penny Brite (for copper) and dry them very carefully, allowing them a 24 hour air dry after that. I hope this helps.

  2. Kathye Osborne says:

    I inherited my grandmother’s Dirilyte. With the set I found a personal letter from John P Fredrick, president of the Dirilyte Company of America, Inc. Kokomo, Indiana, at that time. It is dated May 5, 1948. He responded to her question as to the metal content of the tableware. He wrote, “Dirilyte alloy is an alloy all of its own, but can be classified as a member of the aluminum bronze alloy family. The three principal ingredients of Dirilyte are copper, aluminum, and nickel and it is a combination principally of these alloys that gives to Dirlyte its beautiful color.”
    There was no information in a booklet that came with the tableware as to how to clean it.

  3. Marilyn Wann says:

    I read about polishing Dirilyte on another discussion board and just used a cotton buffing wheel attached to a hand drill, dabbed with Maas “polishing cream for all metals,” in French lavender. It goes very quickly, gets a total shine, and saves a lot of hand effort. Just thought I’d share. Like you, I inherited a set from parents and grandparents and treasure it for its simplicity and beauty.

    • Thanks for the info. I had thought of doing that. Since using the dirilyte more often, I have lightly cleaned it with Penny Brite after each use and I did a thorough cleaning of it all yesterday. It hardly took any time at all since we have been using it and following this practice. The tarnish was minor, but I love your idea.

  4. Roberta Hite says:

    My husband spent an afternoon prior to Thanksgiving a few years ago polishing the tarnished dirilyte. After the meal, we hand washed the pieces and were surprised to see tarnish quickly appear. Then we learned the dirilyte is NOT to be put into hot or even warm water since those temps will tarnish the pieces. Nice to find out AFTER we wash the pieces.

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