Britannia: A silver-white alloy composed largely of tin hardened with copper and antimony. Closely akin to pewter but with a more silvery appearance due to the higher proportion of tin, addition of antimony and omission of lead. Often contains a small quantity of zinc. A common proportion is 140 parts tin, 3 of copper and 10 parts antimony.
Oxidizing: Accented beauty of ornamentation by the application of an oxide, which darkens metal wherever applied. Shadows and highlights are created, which give depth and character.
Patina: A soft luster caused by tiny scratches that come with daily use.
Alloy: A substance that’s a mix of two or more metals.
Bleeding: A technical term applied to pieces of plate whereon the copper base is exposed.
Sponging or Brush Plating: A technique where plating a single area is possible instead of the traditional practice of submerging the entire piece in a plating tank. This process allows for touch ups in repair areas. Also referred to as “Ragging.”
Sterling Silver: An alloy made of .925 parts silver and .075 parts copper and declared the legal standard of silver in 1238. In 1300, the use of the “925” hallmark was introduced by Edward I to prevent fraud.
Coin Silver: An alloy made of .900 parts silver and .100 parts copper. Commonly used by American silversmiths prior to 1868.
Sheffield Plate: True Sheffield Plate was produced by fusing a thin sheet of silver to one or both sides of a thick sheet of copper. Also known as Old Sheffield Plate to distinguish it from electroplate. Invented by Thomas Boulsover in approximately 1743.
Repousse: (French) Its translation means “pushed out.” A relief ornament hammered from the upper or inner side of the metal, it gives an added sharpness of form by surface chasing of detail and outline. Introduced to the United States by Samuel Kirk in 1828.
Epergne: Often ornate, this tiered centerpiece typically consists of a central frame of silver or silverplate that holds dishes, vases, candle holders or a combination of the three. Usually fitted with three or more arms.