Following the invention of German silver (60% copper, 20% nickel and 20% zinc), around 1820, it was found that this new material also fused well with sheet silver and provided a suitable base metal for the Sheffield process.
Because of its nearly silver color, German silver also revealed less wear, or "bleeding", when Sheffield-made articles were subject to daily use and polishing.
When he examined the damaged handle, he noticed that the silver and copper had fused together very strongly.
While trying to repair the handle of a customer's decorative knife, he heated it too much and the silver started to melt.
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.
Much Old Sheffield seen today has been re-plated, especially items which received much use and polishing, such as candlesticks.
Items seldom displayed or used, such as egg cruets or soufflé dishes, are often in excellent condition and so may be confused with electroplate.
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