DOES SILVERPLATE BRITANNIA METAL HAVE VALUE?

By: John Hogan

Of course Meriden Silverplate like many other American and Standard Silverplate like many other Canadian silverplate companies of the period has value!

Benedict Proctor Antique Silver Plate Biscuit Barrel, C. 1910

Benedict Proctor S.P. Biscuit Barrel, C. 1910

Pairpoint Corp., Antique Silver Plate Creamer, C. 1910

Benedict Proctor Biscuit Barrel, Factory Mark

Wm. A. Rogers, Antique Silver Plate Butter Dish, C. 1900

Pairpoint Corporation S.P. Creamer, C. 1910

Pairpoint Corporation Manufacturer's Mark

Wm. A. Rogers S.P. Butter Dish, C. 1900

Wm. A. Rogers Butter Dish Factory Mark

The value depends on the condition, form and pattern. If it is Meriden Plate or Standard Silver Plate (two well known names) other than the hotel-ware line which was a line of silverplate that many companies produced, most of these ornate shapes and patterns, designs or motifs were manufactured with an Art Nouveau and Arts & Crafts Theme in mind. Granted most of it was electroplated over a Britannia white metal and was often plated several times, which was referred to as Triple Plate or Triple Deposit up to four times which was referred to as Quad Plate or Quadruple Plate. Just because one cannot bring it to a top sheen when polished definitely does not mean it is worthless. Such older Victorian or Art Nouveau pieces with ornate patterns that were manufactured by many silver companies at the time are treasures to be cherished for their artistic work depicting a style and flavor of the times. It shows the fine craftsmanship of the silversmiths of our past.

Granted the best quality silverplate is electroplated on copper and nickel silver. However much of the silverplate produced between 1880-1920 is electroplated on a Britannia white base metal that was composed of a pewter-type alloy which contained 85-95% tin, 5-10% antimony, 1% zinc or bismuth and sometimes 2% copper.

Often times pieces are marked EPBM or ELECTROPLATED BRITANNIA METAL. Its similarities in composition is a close facsimile of Pewter in terms of its component alloys. Afterall, Pewter does contain a small percentage of lead, brass and well over 95% tin. There are also forms of Spelter that look like pewter and again is very similar in its alloy ingredients.

The Electroplated Britannia Metal can be re-silvered or re-plated if the darkness or tarnishing bothers you. On the other hand it could be added to a pewter collection and preserved for just what it is and be appreciated for its aged beauty. The forms and color of EPBM  and Pewter can easily compliment each other in a collection.

The following illustrations are fine examples of American and Canadian  Britannia Silverplate:

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