Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What is Silver Plate

What is silver plate? 

It looks like silver and shines like silver but although it can reach high prices in antique auctions it has little or no precious metal value.

Well this is because there is very little silver in it.

When researching information about silver the words silver plate occur often. At first glance silver plate looks like other silver. It has a lovely reflective quality and looks wonderful as a dinner service laid out at a banquet or wedding reception.

Silver plate is actually a very thin layering or coating of pure silver over a base metal. The most common base metals used are copper, brass, nickel-silver, white metal, and Britannia metal.

There are two main types of silver plate and they are Sheffield plate and electroplate.

Sheffield plate derives its name from the town of Sheffield in England where it originated. To create the silver plate a layer of base metal was placed between a top and bottom layer of pure silver. The metals were wrought or rolled until the two metals were bonded. Thus the base metal was 'plated' and could then be used for manufacturing.

Silver plate went through a revolution in 1805 when a new technique was invented. A technique that would destroy the Sheffield technique in under 20 years.

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