Old Sheffield silver plate
Before 1740 or so, silver was sterling quality, that is 925 parts out of 1000 pure silver, and only available to the very rich.
Around 1740, a method was developed of fusing a block of copper and a block of sterling silver and rolling the block into a sheet from which hollow ware items could be made in much the same way sterling could be made.
A great deal of this ware was made in Sheffield England, so it got the name "Sheffield Plate".
With the invention of electro plating of pure silver over a nickel silver base about mid 19th century, Sheffield plate was no longer made.
But there was also lots of electro plated silver which was made in Sheffield and stamped "Sheffield" or "Sheffield Plate"Â.Those items are not old Sheffield plate and do not command the price that old Sheffield plate does.
There were also items that were electro plated over copper that were stamped "Sheffield"Â.but are not Old Sheffield. And there were ( and are) items made in Sheffield England that are not made out of silver but of pewter and other metals like Britannia ( which is another subject!)
Since the time frame of Old Sheffield silver was roughly 1740 to 1840, it is mostly Georgian in style. And because it was "poor manÂs sterling" it often has a side of the silver sheet from which the item was made that is covered with tin and not silver.
Often the decorations that may have been applied were pure silver and wore faster than the sterling out of which the body of the piece was made.
Here are 4 items that I own:
There is a tray and wick trimmer, a candle stick and a ewer of some sort, probably part of a communion set.....or perhaps a syrup jug. The only marks are on the wick trimmer and are an anchor and a word I can't read clearly "pernell"?....and that causes me to doubt that it is Old Sheffield....but everything else about it is right.
However Old Sheffield was seldom marked.
This picture shows the underside of the tray and the inside of the ewer. Notice the dull oxidized lead alloy on the inside of the ewer and back of the tray.
This view shows the bottom of the candle stick. Notice that the candle stick has shiny tin on the bottom.
Old Sheffield is often worn and showing copper. That is called "bloody Sheffield" and really doesn't detract. But Old Sheffield that has been replated ( and the lack of that dull interior or back side is a sure sign!) has lost a considerable amount of it's value.