It’s not unusual to find paint is usually found on old hardware or decorative metal items such as plant stands, small wall shelves, or handles and knobs. These metal piece may be made of brass or mixed metals. Once cleaned from the paint, they could also require a bit of polishing.
When dealing with brass items, first be sure your object is really made of brass by checking with a magnet. It the magnet sticks, it’s not solid brass and may be plated. Many better quality brass items are also finished with lacquer. If your brass item is lacquered and needs a good cleaning that mild soap and water will not do, you will need to remove the lacquer finish prior to cleaning. This requires a commercial lacquer remover. We won’t cover that here as it is far more detailed.
An old pot filled with some water will work wonders to loosen old paint. Note: Don’t use the pot for cooking afterwards as the paint may contain lead. Heat the water to just before boiling and drop in your painted metal. Let it set and simmer for several hours. You should see the old paint start to bubble loose. Once the paint begins to loosen, remove your items and drop in a bucket of ice water. Then peel off the old paint. A screwdriver or knife may be needed to get into crevices. It may take a bit of scrubbing as well.
If the paint does not come off with that method, you can always resort to a commercial paint stripper. Be sure to use gloves and follow all safety precautions though as these are very strong chemicals. Now that your metal item is clean you can determine if you want to polish it or not.
A good all purpose metal polish I have used for years is Peek Polish. It can be purchased online and a little goes a long way.