Unlike Sheffield Plate, electroplate pieces are suspended in a chemical solution along with solid silver ingots. Electrical currents cause the silver particles to travel and ultimately deposit a layer of pure silver all over the piece. This process uses a lot less silver than the Sheffield Plate “sandwich” method and it does not require the labor to hide the edges, so it is much less expensive to make. Therefore, Sheffield Plate is more valuable to collect. Electroplate pieces are usually whiter in color and sometimes even a little harsher in tone than Sterling or Sheffield Plate. Look carefully at the seams because in the Electroplating process, the wash of silver will go over them and there will not be a color difference between the seams and the body as there is in Sheffield Plate. Also, Electroplate manufacturers being in competition with the other high quality wares often used expressions like “Sheffield Silver,” “Sheffield Plate” or “Sheffield on Copper.” These terms are Electroplate terms! Also, look for “EPNS” [Electro Plated Nickel Silver], you will see this often and it is proper. Electroplate didn’t come into existence until 1840 in Birmingham, England.
Pamela Pierrepont Bardo, ASA, AAA