Sheffield Silver

Sheffield silver plate consists of a layered combination of silver and copper. It was used to produce a variety of household items including soup tureens, caddy spoons, buttons, tableware, coffee and tea sets, and candlesticks. Silversmiths in the town of Sheffield, England typically produced identical wares in sterling silver, which they sold at higher prices than those fabricated from Sheffield silver.

Like many great inventions, the process of Sheffield plating was discovered accidentally in 1743 by Thomas Boulsover of Sheffield’s Cutler Company. While in the process of repairing a client’s knife, he heated the metal handle to an unanticipated temperature, causing the silver to melt. To his surprise, the silver and copper formed a strong bond and appeared as a single material.

For roughly the next hundred years, the Sheffield plating technique enjoyed great popularity among silversmiths and was used in the creation of objects of every variety. Beginning around the mid-19th century, it was largely replaced by electroplating techniques such as those pioneered by George Elkington.


Quick Facts

  • Sheffield silver requires less pure silver to produce and therefore can be purchased at a more accessible price point than sterling silver
  • While sterling silver tea services and tableware sets by eminent silversmiths can run into the thousands of dollars, Sheffield silver sets can usually be purchased for a fraction of the price
  • In March 2014, Skinner Auctioneers sold a James Dixon & Sons Sheffield tray for more than $600

Recommended Items at Auction

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Antique cutlery canteen & cutlery canteen 18 x 35.50 x 45.50 cm. (7.09 x 13.98 x 17.91 in.)
Oct 18, 7:00 PM AEDT
Antique cutlery canteen & cutlery canteen 18 x 35.50 x 45.50 cm. (7.09 x 13.98 x 17.91 in.)
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD805 Bids
Set of six English sterling silver teaspoons
Oct 18, 7:00 PM AEDT
Set of six English sterling silver teaspoons
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD604 Bids
A pair of late George III Sheffield-plate twin branch candelabrum,English, circa 1800
Nov 14, 2:30 PM AEDT
A pair of late George III Sheffield-plate twin branch candelabrum,English, circa 1800
by Artvisory
Est: AUD200- AUD400
AUD1303 Bids
Vintage Sheffield Plate Squirrel Nut Compote
Oct 29, 5:00 PM EDT
Vintage Sheffield Plate Squirrel Nut Compote
by Mebane Antique Auction
Est: $10- $1,000
$72 Bids
19TH C. OLD SHEFFIELD PLATE ARMORIAL ENTREE DISH
Oct 24, 10:00 AM EDT
19TH C. OLD SHEFFIELD PLATE ARMORIAL ENTREE DISH
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $100- $200
$1002 Bids
Set of Six Stainless Steel Knives With Hinged Case
Oct 20, 10:00 AM EDT
Set of Six Stainless Steel Knives With Hinged Case
by The Benefit Shop Foundation Inc
Est: $100- $250
$11 Bid
Vintage James Dixon & Sons Sheffield Flask
Oct 23, 11:00 AM EDT
Vintage James Dixon & Sons Sheffield Flask
by Gulfcoast Coin and Jewelry
Est: $95- $100
$251 Bid
A pair of Art Nouveau Urania pewter mounted glass vases, circa 1900,
Oct 28, 10:00 AM BST
A pair of Art Nouveau Urania pewter mounted glass vases, circa 1900,
by Cheffins
Est: £80- £120
£801 Bid
72pc Roberts & Belk silver tone flatware
Oct 17, 12:00 PM EDT
72pc Roberts & Belk silver tone flatware
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $50- $100
$251 Bid
English Sheffield Edwardian Style Sterling Silver Sauce Boat and Tray
Oct 23, 10:00 AM CDT
English Sheffield Edwardian Style Sterling Silver Sauce Boat and Tray
by Link Auction Galleries
Est: $225- $275
$1001 Bid
Pair of Matthew Boulton Old Sheffield Plate Candlesticks & 2 Hurricanes
Oct 23, 9:00 AM EDT
Pair of Matthew Boulton Old Sheffield Plate Candlesticks & 2 Hurricanes
by Case Antiques, Inc. Auctions & Appraisals
Est: $300- $350
$1501 Bid
Pair of sterling silver and silver plate candlesticks - 1823
Oct 20, 7:00 PM EDT
Pair of sterling silver and silver plate candlesticks - 1823
by Champagne Auctions
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$1,5000 Bids
Pair of English Silver Candlesticks/Lamps
Oct 23, 9:00 AM EDT
Pair of English Silver Candlesticks/Lamps
by Brunk Auctions
Est: $500- $800
$2500 Bids
Old Sheffield Plate Argyle
Oct 23, 9:00 AM EDT
Old Sheffield Plate Argyle
by Brunk Auctions
Est: $100- $300
$500 Bids
Boxed Fruit Knife and Fork Setting
Oct 19, 6:00 PM AWST
Boxed Fruit Knife and Fork Setting
by McKenzies Auctioneers
Est: AUD200- AUD300
AUD1500 Bids
A Fine Boxed Fish Service
Oct 19, 6:00 PM AWST
A Fine Boxed Fish Service
by McKenzies Auctioneers
Est: AUD200- AUD0
AUD1500 Bids
An Art Deco six-piece silver condiment set
Oct 19, 10:00 AM BST
An Art Deco six-piece silver condiment set
by Sworders
Est: £150- £200
£1200 Bids
George V Silver Tray
Oct 20, 11:00 AM EDT
George V Silver Tray
by Stair
Est: $800- $1,200
$4000 Bids
19TH C. SHEFFIELD PLATE REGIMENTAL MEAT DOME
Oct 24, 10:00 AM EDT
19TH C. SHEFFIELD PLATE REGIMENTAL MEAT DOME
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $1,500- $2,000
$7500 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Sheffield Silver


Chiswick Auctions

Chiswick Auctions

Bonhams

Bonhams

Cooper Barrington LLP

Cooper Barrington LLP

Sworders

Sworders