Tips for identifying sheffield plate, sterling silver and EPNS plate
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Identifying Sterling Sheffield Plate & EPNS Silver

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Silver & Plate

Sterling Silver and Silver Plate make great collections, as pieces are small, easy to store and maintain, they look fantastic on display and in most cases can still be used! Collecting sterling silver and silver plate homeware, or jewellery is increasingly popular, as you can start your collection very inexpensively, so if silver or plate are your choice of collectable, then here are a few pointers that should help get you started!

vintage silver plate epns

gold & silver jewellery

Sterling Silver or EPNS?

Sterling Silver and Silver Plate are distinctly different and should not be confused with each other. Most pieces of silver and silver plate carry some form of mark and this can be used to identify and possibly date it. The marks used on silver and silver plate are usually very small and placed in an inconspicuous area of the object. The marks used on silver and silver plate can look very similar if you have limited experience, but it is important that you do not confuse them, as this could lead to you paying an over inflated price for a piece. Here's a comparison of a Sterling Silver hallmark, which has a mark of origin, standard mark, date letter and a duty mark or commemorative mark and a typical mark from a piece of silver plate, which is a set of letters.

sterling silver and epns marks

For more details on identifying a genuine Sterling Silver Hallmark visit our Sterling Silver hallmarks page.

Roughly speaking there are three types of silver and plate:

Silver Plate.

Silver Plate is also known as "electroplated silver", "silver plated" and "EPNS" This is made by applying a fine layer of Silver to a base metal, such as Copper or an alloy. British Plate was developed in the 1840s, replacing the OId Sheffield Plating method (see below). Later in the century, the Electroplating process arrived, allowing the inexpensive and easy production of Silver Plate items.
If you'd like to find out more about Silver Plate and EPNS then visit our How To Identify EPNS page.


Silver is also refered to as "sterling silver" or "solid silver". Sterling silver is silver that is at least 92.5% pure Silver, it is usually hallmarked with a set of Sterling Silver hallmarks or an import mark if it has been mark if it has been imported.
If you'd like to find out more about correctly identifying Sterling Silver pieces then visit our
How To Identify Sterling Silver page.

Old Sheffield Plate.

Old Sheffield Plate is an early form of plated silver, produced by physically bonding a fine layer of pure silver on to a base metal.
If you'd like to find out more about correctly identifying Old Sheffield Plate items then take a look at our
How To Identify Old Sheffield Plate page.

Please note that this information has been obtained from a variety of sources, and it is to the best of our knowledge correct. However, Steptoes Dog does not accept responsibility regarding its accuracey, or any adverse occurences, damage or injury resulting from the use of this information.

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