Bolsover and Sheffield Plate

In 1742 Thomas Bolsover, a Sheffield workman, was repairing a knife handle made of silver and copper when, by accidentally overheating it, he caused the metals to flow so that the silver formed a coating over the copper. He realized the commercial value of this discovery and exploited it to make small objects which, though looking like silver, were largely composed of the cheaper metal. Later, Joseph Hancock found that by making both plates separately, giving them the highest possible finish, fluxing and then heating them together under pressure they could be made to adhere. Usually the flux, which had been applied to the edges, covered the joint effectively; but in 1784 George Cadman adopted the practice of soldering on solid silver edging to ensure that the copper core was completely hidden. Thus was established yet another copper industry, Sheffield Plate. After a time of great prosperity its popularity fell away, and eventually it was largely superseded by the invention of electroplating during the 19th Century. However, it has come into favour again and many fine articles of Sheffield Plate may still be seen.