Silver information

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Silver has been in use since 4000BC and has been used for both practical purposes and ornamental. Not only are there different purposes for silver, but there are also different types.

 

London Silver Makers

American Silver Makers

 

If an item is marked Sterling, it means that the silver content is at least 92.5% silver. American silver usually has the word Sterling stamped on it whereas British silver may have either the word Sterling or the Lion Passant. Both indicate that the silver is at least 92.5% silver.

Coin silver was used before sterling silver in America. Coin silver is usually 90% silver.

In addition to sterling silver there is Sheffield Plate, Electroplate and German Silver. Sheffield Plate was one of the earliest types of silver plate. Sheffield Plate was copper with a layer of silver on the top and bottom so that the copper does not show. Sheffield Plate is quite collectible as it is quite rare. Sheffield Plate is no longer used as Electroplating took its place. Sheffield Plate is rarely marked and has a blueish tinge to it.

Electroplating is the process which involves taking a base metal, such as copper or brass, and plating it with silver. Electroplated goods are often stamped EPNS but there are some excellent silver makers which carried out these tasks and electroplated items can also be collected according to their makers.

German Silver actually contains no silver at all. German silver is an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc.