The natural beauty of antique silver lends itself to the designs of artists and craftsmen. Silver has been mined and worked into an endless variety of useful and decorative items. Pure silver is too soft to be fashioned into strong, durable, and serviceable utensils. Therefore, a way was found to give silver the required degree of hardness by adding alloys of copper and nickel.
There are many types of antique silver, including antique American coin, antique American, antique Arts & Crafts, antique Continental, antique Italian, antique Portuguese, antique English, and antique Sheffield.
Another form of antique silver is silverplate, which is a form that is completely shaped from a base metal, usually silver or brass, and then coated with a thin layer of silver through a process called electroplating.
A third form of silver is silver overlay, which is silver applied directly to a finished glass or porcelain object. The overlay is cut and decorated, usually by engraving, prior to being molded around the object. The glass or porcelain is usually of high quality and is either crystal or colored. Most designs are from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods.
Manufacturers of silver, silverplate and silver overlay include, Wallace, Meriden, Frank M. Whiting, James Tufts, Sheffield, Towle, Faith Co., Gorham, Rogers, Newcastle, Napier, Pairpoint, Whiting, Reed & Barton, Peter & Ann Bateman, Lunt, Alexander Clark, Barker Ellis, and Godinger.