Metals and Standards Guide
Quality & Restored Antique Silver and how to determine their ...
Fine Silver: 99% pure
Sterling Silver 1544 - 1697 (92.50% Fine Silver, 7.5% Copper)
Britannia Silver 1697 - 1720 (95.84% Fine Silver)
Both Sterling and Britannia 1720 - Present
Sterling Standard adopted in US in 1870
Mexican Silver (95% Fine Silver, 5% Copper)
Gorham Martele' 1895 - 1910 (95% Pure Silver)
Coin Silver US 1792 - 1837 (89.2% Fine, 10.8% Copper)
Coin Silver US 1837 - 1869 (90% Fine, 10% Copper)
Coin Silver US 1869 to date (92.5% Fine Silver, 7.5% Copper)
German Silver (80% Fine Silver) 1888 - Present (crescent mark and imperial crown)
Scandinavian Countries Fine: 830/1000
COIN SILVER 1820 - 1850
Before 1820 very little coin money existed in America. When silver coins first were circulated they were often melted down and made into spoons, which made them hard to fence if stolen. By 1850, most coin silver objects were factory made from silver ingots.
Coin Silver is marked "Coin", "Pure Coin" "Dollar", "Standard", "C", or "D"
Base Metals Used for Silverplating
Pewter (Tin 95%, Antimony 2%, Copper 1%, Lead 2%)
British plate (thin sheet of silver over nickel silver) 1835 - 1840
Copper 1865 -1870 (Deep Red Color)
White Metal (Pewter with increased Antimony) 1870 - 1910
Britannia (Tin 91%, Antimony 7.5%, Copper 1.5%) 1870s-1880s
Britannia contains no lead
Copper was used again, beginning in 1910 (red appearance)
Pewter (Tin 80%, Antimony 7%, Copper 13%) 1930s
Copper/Zinc Base Metal 1931 - 1935 (Copper Pinkish Color)
Nickel Silver (Nickel 18%, Zinc 22%, Copper 60%) 1857 – (Yellowish color)
Brass used beginning 1960s (Yellowish-white tinge)
EPCA Electroplated, Copper Alloy
In fifthteenth, century three grades were established.
Fine: 80% tin, 20% brass or copper
Hollowware Pewter: 80% tin, 20% lead
Trifle Pewter: 60% tin, 40% lead
Later changed to 83% tin, 17% Antimony
In seventeenth century
Hard Metal Pewter: 90% tin, 8% antimony, 2% copper
Black Pewter: 60% tin, 40% lead
The term flatware introduced toward the end of the 19th century includes spoons, forks, and other serving pieces used at the table. Knives are cutleries. The terminology used on silverplate is generally of little value in judging quality. Grades were used to indicate the amount of silver used to plate a gross of standard teaspoons. "Standard" (A1) indicated two troy ounces per gross of teaspoons. "Double" (XX) meant four troy ounces per gross, and "quadruple" indicated eight troy ounces per gross of teaspoons. However, the grades were never formally adopted, and only by gentleman's agreement by a hand-full of companies did they have any meaning whatsoever.
'Quadruple' was (as described above) the highest standard public grade. However, it was not the highest grade produced. 'Federal Standard' was 15% higher and several companies produced at 'Hotel Grade' that was even higher.
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