PLATED WARE, articles chiefly intended for table use consisting of an inferior metal or alloy covered by one of the precious metals, with the object of giving them the appearance of gold or silver. Before the introduction of electro-plating the method employed for silver-plating (the invention of which in 1742 is associated with the name of Thomas Bolsover, of Sheffield) was to fuse or burn together, by a flux of borax, a thin sheet of silver on each side of an ingot of base metal, generally copper, or German silver, which is an alloy of copper. The silver plates were firmly wired to the ingot, which was then placed in a heated furnace and brought nearly to the fusingpoint of the silver. The artisan knew the exact moment to withdraw the ingot. When cold it was rolled down to a sheet, and from such sheets " silver-plated " articles were made. Articles like dish-covers were originally only silver-plated on one side, and after being worked into shape were tinned inside with pure tin. In Birmingham bar-copper was the base metal used; when bare of silver this showed blood-red. The Sheffield manufacturers, on the other hand, used shot-copper mixed with brass (an alloy of copper and zinc) in the proportion of 4 or 6 to i. In this way they got rid of the redness of the copper and rendered it harder, and their product is the " old Sheffield plate " (q.v.) that has become famous all over the world. This method of plating rapidly declined with the introduction of the newer process of electro-plating (q.v.), by which it has been superseded. Plating with nickel is extensively used for bedsteads and other articles of upholstery, and for various parts of bicycles, steamships, railway carriages, etc. Steel sheets are also plated with nickel for cooking purposes, and iron is plated with brass.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)