This is a wonderful and rare antique English Old Sheffield Plate, silver on copper, wine cooler of campana form, Circa 1780 in date.
It is fitted with an exceptional pair of decorative handles and is embellished with chased and embossed foliate decoration.
It retains the original detachable liner.
There is no mistaking the unique and fabulous quality and design which is sure to make this a treasured piece by any discerning collector.
In really excellent condition with only minor signs of wear commensurate with age and use, please see photos for confirmation of condition.
Dimensions in cm:
Height 25.5 x Width 24.5 x Depth 24.5
Dimensions in inches:
Height 10 inches x Width 10 inches x Depth 10 inches
Old Sheffield Plate – or ‘fused plate’ as it is sometimes known, was the first commercially viable method of plating metal.
The material was accidentally invented by Thomas Boulsover, of Sheffield’s Cutlers Company, in 1743. While trying to repair the handle of a customer’s decorative knife, he heated it too much and the silver started to melt. When he examined the damaged handle, he noticed that the silver and copper had fused together very strongly. Experiments showed that the two metals behaved as one when he tried to reshape them, even though he could clearly see two different layers.
Boulsover set up in business, funded by Strelley Pegge of Beauchief, and carried out further experiments in which he put a thin sheet of silver on a thick ingot of copper and heated the two together to fuse them. When the composite block was hammered or rolled to make it thinner, the two metals were reduced in thickness at similar rates. Using this method, Boulsover was able to make sheets of metal which had a thin layer of silver on the top surface and a thick layer of copper underneath. When this new material was used to make buttons, they looked and behaved like silver buttons but were a fraction of the cost.
The technique Boulsover developed was to sandwich an ingot of copper between two plates of silver, tightly bind it with wire, heat it in a furnace and then mill it out in to sheet, from which objects could be made.
Our reference: A2873