What is Quadruple Silver Plate?
Let's start with the common misconception about "quadruple silver plate" - also known as "quadruple silverplate". Quadruple silver plate items are NOT plated four times, nor do they have four times as much pure silver, known in the industry as .925, as any other hollowware item.
- Quadruple silver plate hollowware was some of the highest quality made during the later part of the 19th century. Within the silversmith and silver manufacturing industry, items marked "Standard" silver plate indicated that 2 troy ounces of pure silver were used to silver electroplate 144 teaspoons, but "Quadruple" silverplate used 8 troy ounces of silver to plate the same 144 spoons.
"Triple" silverplate items used three times as much purse silver as "Standard" and 1/4 less than "Quadruple" silverplate items. Silverplate holloware items which have been re-silvered over the years may have more or less silver than originally plated.
- Quadruple silverplate items were four times as heavily plated with silver than items marked "Standard" silverplate.
By the 1850's, a number metal craftsmen had shifted their operations to the manufacturing of silver-plated wares in various forms, ranging from silver tea and coffee services to silver butter dishes, pickle castors, cake dishes, silver platters, silver tureens, and other table ware. Among the large manufacturers besides Rogers Brothers, were Reed & Barton of Taunton, Massachusetts, who began electroplating in 1848, and the Meriden Britannia Company, founded in 1852 in Meriden, Connecticut, and by 1863 the largest maker of plated silver in America.
Since the change from crafting wares of pewter, (the "poor man's" silver) to electroplated silver occurred at the height of the Victorian period, the pieces made in the new ware are always more elaborate in design than the earlier pewter, which was generally very plain and simple. Not only are the silver-plated pieces ornamented with Victorian details but they are often embellished with florid engraved decoration. Details which are no longer used!
Many of these fine Victorian silver pieces were electroplated quadruple silver. Today, these pieces are becoming more scarce as collectors are quickly purchasing and keeping these pieces themselves. Fewer and fewer fine pieces are available on the "open market".
Also, as the years go by, unfortunately, more and more of these fine pieces of antique craftsmanship become damaged beyond repair, destroyed, or --- egads! ---- tossed out in the trash!
A common misconception is that silver plate is an inferior product. While it will never have the same silver content as sterling, dealers and silversmiths say many manufacturers made very highly-quality silver plate. Many people don't realize that Tiffany made silver plate.
The TECHNICAL Aspects of SILVER
Silver is somewhat rare and expensive, although not as expensive as gold. Slag dumps in Asia Minor and on islands in the Aegean Sea indicate that man learned to separate silver from lead as early as 3000 B.C.
Pure silver has a brilliant white metallic lustre. It is a little harder than gold and is very ductile and malleable. Silver iodide, AgI, is (or was?) used for causing clouds to produce rain.
Silver is stable in pure air and water, but tarnishes when exposed to ozone, hydrogen sulphide, or air containing sulphur.
Silver is highly valued for jewelry, tableware, and other ornamental use and is widely used in coinage, photography, dental and soldering alloys, electrical contacts, and printed circuits.
Silver is available in many forms including crystals, flakes, wire, foil, "evaporation slugs", granule, needles, powder, tube, mesh, bars, nano-sized activated powder, rod, shot, and wool. Small and large samples of silver foil, sheet, wire, insulated wire, mesh, rod, tube, and powder (and silver alloys in foil, wire and tube form) can be purchased from various metal companies.