That's probably exactly right Smithy. People who used them for decorations would certainly lacquer the nickel as a way to keep it from oxidation. That's exactly what you are removing and thought was a plating layer. Good eye!
I agree that the stove proper comes first since the heating season will be on us soon. You are pretty well on top of it though. I'll bet you it's ready to roll come match striking time! You've been doing excellent work. I'm impressed. My Herald, done this summer only has the trim painted with HT chrome out of a rattle can. It actually looks ok (because it's consistent) but eventually will have nice nickel plating redone. I'm waiting till I have the extra cash to take the Herald parts and some of my Glenwood C cookstove trim all at once in a batch deal. My cousin owns Royal Plating and Polishing in Pittsfield, Ma. so maybe he'll cut me a deal.