A SMALL COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE SILVER
AND OBJECTS OF VERTU
THE WHAT IS? SILVER DICTIONARY

BRITISH SILVER PLATE
ALPHABETIC SYMBOLS

The marks of electroplated silver were often inspired to the hallmarking used for sterling silver, but, unlike this system, no codified rule was followed by silver plate makers.
Nonetheless, besides the trade mark, many electroplaters used alphabetic symbols to identify the town of origin, the quantity of the silver used in plating and, in some cases, the date of manufacture.
The purpose of these marks was, mostly, of promotional nature and hid the unacknowledged goal of confusing the customer about the nature of the metal alloy.
This misconduct was so obvious that in 1895c the use of the "crown" was forbidden to avoid confusion with the sterling mark used by the Sheffield Assay Office.

TOWN SYMBOLS

The more common town symbols used by electroplaters were:
G = Glasgow
L = London
M = Manchester
S = Sheffield
Apparently, this practise was not followed by Birmingham plate makers as I never found a mark with a "B" used to identify Birmingham as the town of origin (but I found marks of firms active in Birmingham bearing the "S" of Sheffield -possibly having a branch in Sheffield-).
"G" FOR GLASGOW TOWN MARK
G for Glasgow in DYKES BROTHERS mark G for Glasgow in WILLIAM ALEXANDER & SON mark
DYKES BROTHERS - Glasgow (possibly)
WILLIAM ALEXANDER & SON - Glasgow
"L" FOR LONDON TOWN MARK
L for  London in ROBERT PRINGLE & SONS mark L for London in MAXFIELD & SONS mark
ROBERT PRINGLE & SONS - London
MAXFIELD & SONS - London
"M" FOR MANCHESTER TOWN MARK
M for Manchester in ARNOLD & LEWIS mark
ARNOLD & LEWIS - Manchester
"S" FOR SHEFFIELD TOWN MARK
S for Sheffield in MARK WILLIS mark S for Sheffield in HARRISON BROTHERS mark
MARK WILLIS - Sheffield
HARRISON BROTHERS - Sheffield
S for Sheffield in BOARDMAN & GLOSSOP mark S & L  for Sheffield and London in MAPPIN & WEBB  mark
BOARDMAN & GLOSSOP - Sheffield
MAPPIN & WEBB - Sheffield and London

QUALITY SYMBOLS

British electroplaters used a letter code for their "Plated" wares. The best quality was "A1" or "AI", lower level was "A", next level was "B", followed by level "C", and the lowest level was "D".
A1 (or AI)= Superior Quality = 32 grams on 12 pieces = 2 2/3 grams per table spoon or table fork
A = Standard Quality = 24 grams on 12 pieces = 2 grams per table spoon or table fork
B1 = Quality code found in a Walker & Hall spoon = meaning unknown
B = Third Quality = 16 grams on 12 pieces = 1 1/3 grams per table spoon or table fork
C = Fourth Quality = 12 grams on 12 pieces = 1 grams per table spoon or table fork
D = Fifth Quality = 6 grams on 12 pieces = 0 1/2 grams per table spoon or table fork
(Example by Barker Brothers, Birmingham, around 1900: courtesy Oskar M. Zurell).
"A1" OR "AI" SUPERIOR QUALITY
silver plate mark: superior quality A1 silver plate mark: superior quality A1
silver plate mark: superior quality A1 silver plate mark: superior quality AI
"AA" or "A.A." UNKNOWN QUALITY
silver plate mark: quality AA silver plate mark: quality A.A.
"A" STANDARD QUALITY
silver plate mark: standard quality A
"B1" UNKNOWN QUALITY
silver plate mark: quality B1
"B" THIRD QUALITY
silver plate mark: third quality B
"C" FOURTH QUALITY
silver plate mark: fourth quality C

METAL ALLOY

British makers adopted a letter code to identify the base metal and/or the different silver plating process used on their "Plated" wares.
The most common was EPNS (Electro Plated Nickel Silver), but many other symbols were used, as EBPM (Electro Plated Britannia Metal), EPCA (Electro Plated Copper Alloy), PGS (Plated German silver), MP (Magnetic Plating), PS (Plated Steel), WP (White metal Plated), EP (Electro Plated) and others that I was unable to identify with certainty (BP)
"BP": BRITANNIA PLATE (possibly)
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process BP silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process BP
"EP": ELECTRO PLATED
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EP silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EP silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EP
"EPBM": ELECTRO PLATED BRITANNIA METAL
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPBM
"EPCA": ELECTRO PLATED COPPER ALLOY
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPCA
"EPGS": ELECTRO PLATED GERMAN SILVER
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPCA silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPCA silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPCA
"EPNS": ELECTRO PLATED NICKEL SILVER
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPNS silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPNS
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPNS silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPNS
"EP ON COPPER": ELECTRO PLATED ON COPPER
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EP ON COPPER
"ESM": ELECTROPLATED SILVER MOUNTS
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process ESM
"EPWM": ELECTRO PLATED WHITE METAL
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process EPWM

"MP": MAGNETO PLATE
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process MP silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process MP
"PS": PLATED STEEL
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process PS

"P over EP" and "P over MP": PRIME ELECTRO PLATE and PRIME MAGNETO PLATE
("Prime" referring presumably to Thomas Prime process of electro deposition)
silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process MP silver plate mark: metal alloy/plating process MP

DATE LETTERS

The use of a "date letter" (or symbol) was not a common practice for British electroplaters. Only Elkington made regular use of this device and the series of its date letters from 1849 to the 1970s is well known and fully decoded (click here for the complete series of Elkington date marks).
Date letters are present in the marks of other firms as Mappin & Webb (click here ), Thomas Bradbury & Sons and Walker & Hall (click here ) which used date letters on a less systematic base. At the present the key of interpretation is unknown to me (any information would be highly appreciated)
Elkington & Co: date letter H year 1893 Thomas Bradbury & Sons: date letter W year unknown Mappin & Webb: date letter J year unknown Walker & Hall: date letter B year unknown
Elkington & Co
date letter H
year 1893
Thomas Bradbury & Sons
date letter W
year unknown
Mappin & Webb
date letter J
year unknown
Walker & Hall
date letter b
year unknown
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