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Eclectic Taste: Victorian Silver Plate

July 15, 2020 Airport No Comments Email Email

Silver-plated housewares are lustrous and ornate examples of Victorian style. Produced in large quantities in England and the United States, silver plate was a hallmark of eclectic décor during the Victorian era (1837-1901). By the late 1800s, many homes featured extensive collections of silver plate. The most elaborate items were found in the dining room and main parlor, where they served a variety of entertainment functions. Ownership of silver plate became an indicator of social and economic status, and manufacturers created highly specialized and imaginative designs to meet consumer demand.

Silver plate was developed in England during the mid-eighteenth century as a more affordable alternative to solid silver. Known first as Sheffield plate, items were made from thin sheets of silver and copper that were fused together and formed into flatware and hollowware. Electroplating, patented in 1840, is an advanced process that utilized electric current to coat metal objects with a thin layer of silver. Victorian electroplated silver designers combined elements of Gothic, Rococo, and Italian Renaissance styles with Greek and Egyptian Revival influences to create contemporary interpretations of historical styles. This exhibit presents a selection of imaginative, electroplated silver items from the Victorian era.

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