Silver/Copper Sandwich Marketable
Sheffield plate was a silver substitute invented in England about 1740. It is a sandwich, with a thin sheet of copper as the filling, and one or two thin sheets of silver as the bread. The parts of the sandwich were fused together in a furnace and could then be rolled or hammered in the same way as pure silver.
Thomas Bolsover, a cutler from Sheffield, was the inventor. he apparently made nothing but buttons from his new product. Others adopted the process, and by the 1750s, it was being used for such domestic items as teapots and candlesticks.
A Birmingham manufacturer, Matthew Boulton, set up a factory in the 1760s to produce Sheffield plate in quantity.
The process continued to be used until electroplating superseded it in the 19th century.
Sheffield plate is a specialty collecting area in its own right. It does not command as high a price as corresponding pieces of silver, but in good condition can still be expensive. When buying a piece, check the borders carefully. A little copper showing through is generally considered attractive, but there should not be much.
Confusing for collectors is the fact that most Sheffield plate is unmarked and a piece with “Sheffield plate” stamped on it is electroplate made in Sheffield in the 19th century. You will want to consult come good reference books before investing too much in Sheffield plate.
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