Buying Rust: The “Frank & Shirley” Brass Tray

I promised myself…no more buying rusty metal things unless they look better that way, like these antique rusty cast iron bits which for some reason I adored.

I sold this lot to a very happy customer. Hated to see them go!

And then a few days ago at my neighborhood Goodwill I found a huge brass tray–20 inches long and nine inches wide with chain-style handles. It was fabulous! But it had been used and abused and sported stains, rust, corrosion and scratches. (Sorry all my photos showing the full tray were blurry.)

Part of me was “No, no, no. Put this tray down.” But it was so unusual, handsome and sturdy with a fun ’60s/’70s vibe. So I bought it.

Though I hated to destroy its mellow brown patina, I doubted anyone would want it with all the damage. I mean honestly you’re not going to carry a bunch of drinks or appetizers on a tray sporting rust and corrosion. So I am tediously starting to polish the body. I will likely leave the rest alone. Here’s my progress so far.


It’s engraved “F.S” which makes me wonder if these are the initials of a couple, say Frank and Shirley, and this was a wedding or anniversary gift to them. Which obviously they loved because it was used a lot!

It has a small maker’s mark on the bottom that I haven’t figured out yet. It appears to be the initials GB and some tools (perhaps a hammer and awl). My husband thinks this was a homemade piece.


Could be. Could be. Regardless, I haven’t been able to find anything else like it online and I think it’s a winner even in its wabi-sabi condition. (He’s not so sure.)


How about you…ever buy things that are a tad damaged??

As always, happy hunting,



    1. Totally share your opinion 🙂
      New things can be so *boring*
      I had a beautiful old silver-plated sauce boat that I sold as a soap holder…. the plating was mostly gone but it was so nice with all its different shades and old shape… I was sad to see it going.
      Thinking of which, I have a weird piece I picked up while ago. It’s a strange tray in the shape of a fish but it’s quite run down. I’ll have to try and clean it a bit, though I hate polishing 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, new things are boring!!

        I can just picture that old sauce boat…and what a great idea to sell it as a soap holder!

        I have an antique brass jelly pan from England/Scotland–a nine-pound whopper–but it was last used as a plant holder and now has corrosion on the inside. I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to try and clean it up before putting it in my store! – Karen

        Liked by 1 person

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