Solid Silver - Composition of Silver Plate, Usual Patterns, Cleaning of Silver, Frosted, Silvered, Oxydised, Silver Braid - How to precipitate Whiting-Materials - Tin Solution - Cleaning of Tins - Britannia Metal - Pewter - Sheffield Plate.
Solid silver goods were plentiful in the sixteenth century; but during the wars between the King and Parliament both sides gave up much in order that it might be melted down to provide food and clothes for the troops. During the last prosperous reigns silver spoons, forks, decanter stands, etc., have once more become usual.
All silver must be amalgamated with some other metal to make it harder and less brittle. For this purpose copper is mostly employed. The recognized legal mixture is 11 ozs. 2 dwts. of silver to 18 dwts. of alloy : these are what are called the standard proportions.
The various imitations of silver have been wonderfully improved during the nineteenth century. German silver was once much in request, but very soon turned yellow when in constant use. Plating at one time was frequently done on dark metals, with the result that when the plating wore off, or became thin, the effect was very unsightly. Now, plating is mostly done on hard white metal, which is extremely durable and wears very well. Table forks, guaranteed to last in good condition in daily use for fifteen years, can be purchased at 17/per dozen; dessert spoons and forks at 12/9 per dozen; teaspoons at 9/11 per dozen. Of course there are many sold at lower prices; but it is false economy to buy that which has only a very thin plating, as it soon wears off, and re-plating is expensive. There are several regulation patterns; viz.:-
1. Rat's-tail, where the bowl of the spoon is strengthened by the continuation of the handle.
3. Old English.
5. Glasgow, or Queen's.
6. Threaded, or Reeded.
Apostle spoons are much used at present; the figures are mostly copies from the twelve figures on one of the shrines at Nuremberg. In olden days they were usually presented by godparents to their godchildren, with the child's patron saint represented on the handle.
Central cruet stands are rarely used now, as they interfere with the decoration of a table. Small cruets, or pepperettes, salt cellars, and quaint mustard pots are placed at the corners; or, if available, near each person. Very dainty plated ones can be purchased from 4/6 upwards.
Electro-plated salt cellars soon become black or green if the salt is left in them. Unless there is a glass lining, the salt should be often removed, and the salt spoons should not be kept in them.