Antique silver – by Jeremy Astfalck

Most countries at some time or another have had silverware produced within their borders, either for religious purposes or for domestic use.  Silver along with gold has always been at the base of most economic systems since earliest times, due to their nobility, rarity and ability to be shaped into items of beauty.  It is not surprising therefore that these metals have been sought after since time immemorial as yardsticks of wealth by both the church and nobility.  Due to gold being twice as heavy and therefore much less practical than silver, silver has generally been used in the creation of items for everyday use.

Silver: 99.9% pure is known as FINE SILVER

Silver: 80% – 92.5% together with copper is known as ALLOYED SILVER and is referred to as STERLING SILVER.

HALL MARKED SILVER is STERLING SILVER that has been tested by a controlling body, normally state related, and then marked as to its purity.

BRITANNIA STANDARD silver is of British origin, from 1697-1720 having a purity of 95.8%

The process of fusing a thin sheet of silver to a thicker sheet of copper, invented in Sheffield, England in the 1760’s. The item was then made out of this thinly rolled metal sandwich.

Electroplating of base metals such as copper, brass, pewter and even steel replaced the manufacture of Sheffield Plate in the 1830’s.  Due to the low cost of production of silver plate it has remained at the forefront of manufacturing ever since its discovery.

Sheffield Plate from the mid 1850’s this term was often found on Electroplated wares and by law should only be applied to true SHEFFIELD PLATE but was used by electroplaters to imply quality.

“E.P.N. S” – This means Electroplated nickel silver, nickel silver being the alloyed base, over which the silver is plated.

“E.P.B.M” – This means Electroplated Britannia metal Britannia metal being a form of pewter ideally suited to the electroplating process. (This should not be confused with BRITANIA STANDARD)

With this historical understanding of Antique Silver, Sheffield Plate and Electroplated Wares, the basis for investing and collecting have been laid.  Silver should be considered as a sound investment in both our past as well as our future.