Let’s talk about lead as in lead paint, shown right in a Mason Monterey Horseshoe-back Chair, especially in the cream, yellow, and greens. While we are at it, let’s talk about toxic pigments in antique or vintage paints.
We love our antiques, and Mitchell and I are especially fond of Mason Monterey and other painted furniture, but we want to caution folks on lead, heavy metals, and even toxic pigments in older painted finishes, especially if you have babies and puppies who tend to chew on all sorts of odd things. We get calls from young moms who purchased a lovely painted antique crib or bedside cradle for their baby, and want it restored. We sadly discourage them from using it for the child. Older finishes have too many possible pigment problems:
- Lead (especially in cream, pale blues, pinks, yellows);
- Cadmium, cobalt, manganese, and nickel;
- Heavy metals in asphaltum.
Better to use these lovely pieces for a collection of dolls, a planter, or to furnish a guest room where no babies will sleep. BTW, older cribs also have wide slats which babies can get their heads caught between and strangle. (Gads this is a cheery post.)
If you are choosing paints to refinish, check the MSDS on the paint or finish to make sure that the new paint is non-toxic.
Don’t forget antique toys! Not for children who will chew! Be safe!
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