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Sheffield Plate
The first thing to say is that Sheffield Plate is emphatically not electro-plated silver, in any way, shape or form. Sheffield Plate is rolled sheet silver which sandwiches an internal layer or sheet of copper, to which it is fused. The process was accidentally discovered in 1742 by Thomas Boulsover in Sheffield, and domestic articles were made using the technique from the 1750s until about the 1850s. It was recognised by the Sheffield Assay Office in 1784, after which date articles were stamped accordingly, and was being made there and elsewhere (Birmingham was a big producer) by the 1760s. By 1800 a wide range of articles were being produced in large quantites and a variety of styles, in many English towns. It was also copied abroad, notably France, Russia and Poland. The invention/development of " British Plate " in the 1840s brought production to an end, and in turn British Plate was superseded by the much cheaper electro-plating developed in the mid-to-late C18th. Sheffield Plate is very strong, and surviving pieces, and there are many, are generally in good condition. On the other hand, C19th silver plated ware can often be in poor condition, with worn off plate commonly evident.