An unmarked antique ear trumpet in Sheffield plate dating to the turn of the 19th century
The trumpet is of a conical shape with a mid shaft fluted rim and a concentric circular border at the trumpet end. It is here on the table surface that a faint copper colour gives away the nature of the silver plate.
The earliest form of silver plating was done by rolling two plates of silver either side of a sheet of copper. Under pressure and heat the two metals fused together and the product appeared and behaved like solid silver. Even thought this process was relatively time consuming compared, it still allowed production of silverware at a fraction of the cost of solid silver. The manufacturing process done largely in Sheffield, was termed Sheffield plate. Common in its day, the practice was superseded by the development of electroplating and the mass production of silverware. The thickness of silver in Sheffield plate was many time that found in electroplated silver and it is now less common and sought after by collectors.