Plating history

Plating (plating) is simply a technique of covering the surface of a target substance with a thin film.
Today, electroplating is the mainstream, so it feels somewhat new and unrelated to antiques, but it has a long history and there are many "plated" products among antiques.

Here, we will explain various types of "plating" for British antique silver.

old sheffield plate

This silver-plated method was invented around 1742 by Thomas Boolsover, a knife maker in Sheffield, England.
This is the oldest British silver plating method that has been successful as a commercial product.

A copper plate, which is the base metal, is sandwiched between thin silver plates on both sides and heated. When the silver melts, it is rolled with multiple rotating rollers to crimp the copper plate and silver to form a silver plating.
There is a unique beauty to the copper color in the polished and thinned part.
The early Old Sheffield plates in particular are popular with some antique collectors and are highly valued on the antique market.

old sheffield

Silver filled (filled/rolled)

It is a manufacturing method in which a silver film is crimped to a base metal such as brass by heat and pressure.
The purity of the silver coating is 92.5% (sterling silver).

If the weight of the silver coated part is 1/20 or more of the product weight, it is SILVER FILLED.
ROLLED SILVER if the weight of the silver coating is less than 1/20 of the product weight

In both cases, the coated silver layer is much thicker than electroplating, so it will not peel off easily, and even if you polish it, the bare metal will hardly come out.
It looks more like SOLID SILVER than electroplating, and is often used for accessories.

electroplating (plate)

Many of them are manufactured by a method called EPNS (electro plated nickel silver), which uses electricity to coat silver on a nickel alloy called nickel silver.
There is also a type called EPBM based on an alloy called Britannia metal (pewter).
Its history is surprisingly old, and in the UK, Elkington Company in Birmingham obtained various patents and started manufacturing around 1840.

Compared to the old Sheffield plate and silver plate, the amount of silver used is small, and it is possible to mass-produce products of uniform quality at low cost in factories, so it spread at once in the latter half of the 19th century.

The thickness of the silver layer varies depending on the rank, but even the thickest silver plating is about 40-60 microns (1 micron = 0.001 mm).

silver gilt

Silver with gold plating is called SILVER GILT.
In French, it is called "vermeil".

In addition to adding gold decoration to silver to make it look more glittery, it also has the purpose of making it less likely to get dirty by coating the parts that come into contact with other objects with gold, which is less likely to tarnish.
Many of them have a guild on the inside of the cup or silver case.

silver guild

The old ones use a manufacturing method called the amalgam method, in which a liquid mixture of mercury and gold is applied to the surface and heated to evaporate the mercury (fire golding).


Although it is generally called "silver plating", it has its own characteristics depending on the era and manufacturing method.

Silver-plated antique silver is generally considered to be less valuable than products made entirely of silver (solid silver, pure silver) because the amount of silver used is less.

However, since the base metal is hard, it is hard to dent and you don't have to worry about handling it, and it is durable even if it is heavy or has a lot of movement.
In addition, even if it is polished, it does not wear out easily, so there are many old ones where the engraving remains clearly.

Click here for our silver plate product list