Silver plating was invented in the City of Sheffield and the craftsmanship associated with the trade has endured for centuries. The originators of silver-plating were George Richards Elkington and Henry Elkington who began their research in times of the Industrial Revolution. By the 1830's they had patented their processes and 1840 saw the technique of electro-plating brought to perfection.
Silver plate or electroplate is formed when a thin layer of pure or sterling silver is deposited electrolytically on the surface of a base metal (usually nickel silver).
Silver plated cutlery will display that same "warm" patina appearance that silver cutlery has. Owning a set of this type of cutlery is sure to impress your friends and dinner party guests.
Click below to check the range of cutlery available in our Showroom.
We offer a wide range of silver plated cutlery and gifts from this web site. Please check prices for cutlery patterns and gifts in silver plate here -
EPNS stands for "Electro Plated Nickel Silver". Nickel Silver (or occasionally stainless steel) is the base metal onto which silver is plated. Despite its name, Nickel Silver contains no silver at all, but is an alloy of Nickel, Zinc & Copper. A layer of pure silver is deposited electrolytically on the base metal to give a silver finish.
*EPSS stands for "Electro Plated Stainless Steel" and this is the current production style for Arthur Price of England silver plated ranges. This means that silver is plated onto a base metal of stainless steel rather than onto nickel silver. Some Hostess items from the Sheffield factory are now produced in the EPSS version.
The major practical difference between EPNS and EPSS is that EPNS is much more readily re-plateable in the future when the silver has worn down. EPSS might not be re-plateable so if you envisage that your cutlery may be suitable for re-plating at some future date, then our advice would be to opt for Sheffield Cutlery.
Common base metals include Copper, Brass, Nickel Silver - an alloy of Copper, Zinc and Nickel - and Britannia Metal - a Tin alloy with 5-10% Antimony.
Electroplated materials are often stamped EPNS for Electroplated Nickel Silver, or EPBM for Electroplated Britannia Metal. EPBM isn't ideal for replating but we do have access to specialists who will quote for re-silverplating onto this metal.
We offer a re-plating service for cutlery and other items that you might feel are in need of a facelift. See our Re-Silver Plating Service page for details.
Silver, Copper, Brass or Nickel plating is available. EPNS items are the most common form of silver plate and this can be easily re-plated.
The factory does not re-plate if the base metal is chrome, zinc, aluminium, MAZAC (magensium-aluminium-zinc compound), mild steel (carbon Steel), pewter, or wrought iron.
Stainless Steel, Britannia Metal, Britannia Plate & EPBM items are subject to assessment.
The Sheffield Cutlery ranges are 10, 20 or 30 microns which the factory regards as 10, 20 or 30 year plate respectively with usual wear and usage.
The Arthur Price Of England range is 20 microns for their Sovereign Range.
The Elkington range of EPNS is plated to a generous thickness of 35 microns. Very generally speaking, this equates to a probable lifetime of 35-50 years for pieces plated to this thickness but, of course, this time span can vary according to the level of usage and care of your silverware.
Do beware of rival manufacturers who offer silver plate to a much thinner depth of silver plating. We have seen silver plate on offer on the web to as thin as 3 microns of silver.
You will find that all knives for sale on this web site will have Stainless Steel knife blades. The handles will be the parts made from either sterling silver or plated with a generous coating of silver. Even the silver plated knives will have a Stainless Steel blade. This is because sterling silver / silver plate is too soft for it to last for long as a cutting material.
We advise against the use of dishwashers for any cutlery. Please see our FAQ Re Dishwasher Safety. No material is truly stainless and it is easy to spoil the condition and appearance of cutlery, particularly silver/silverplate cutlery, by inappropriate use of dishwashers and/or detergents.
We do have access to a re-polishing service.
Silver plate cutlery from our suppliers is a high quality material. Elkington, for example, have Quality Control registered to ISO 9002 and support internally with their own analytical and metallurgical laboratories to ensure that the tight controls on alloy composition, impurity limits, metallurgical structure, gold and silver plate standards are all maintained.
Please see the following links for an explanation of the maker's marks and company information:
Many electroplaters used alphabetic symbols to identify the town of origin, the quantity of the silver used in plating and, occasionally, the date of manufacture.
The more common town symbols used by electroplaters are:
G = Glasgow
L = London
M = Manchester
S = Sheffield
The best quality is "A1" / "AI", then "A", "B", "C", and the lowest level is "D".
British makers adopted a letter code to identify the base metal and/or the different silver plating process used on their plated items.
The most common is EPNS (Electro Plated Nickel Silver) but many other symbols are used:
Both Elkington & Mappin & Webb used to regularly add a letter to show the date the item was made. This system was also used by Walker & Hall. Click the links to find out the dates from the letters.
Silver plated cutlery, as supplied to the RMS Titanic & other White Star Line liners is now available from this web site from Arthur Price, one of the original suppliers. The pattern used on the Titanic was Panel Reed. This is available in Sovereign Silver Plate. Please see our Titanic Page for more details and ordering information.
This cutlery is supplied with the White Star Line logo on the Dessert and Table knives. These items are plated to 40 microns thickness. The available items are: Table Knives, Table Forks, Dessert Knives, Dessert Forks, Dessert Spoons, Soup Spoons, Tea Spoons, Fish Forks, Fish Knives, Serving Spoons, Coffee Spoons, Cheese Knives, Pie Knives & Letter Openers.
Sheffield Cutlery - Manufacturers' Guarantee
Arthur Price Of England Sovereign Silver Plate - 50 Year Manufacturers' Guarantee
Elkington - Manufacturers' Guarantee
You may also be interested in the About Stainless Steel & About Sterling Silver Pages