This great Old Sheffield Plate (silver over copper) tureen is the largest tureen I have ever seen. Tureen is ornately decorated with the lid fitting the scalloped shape of the bowl's rim and it sits on four elaborately decorated feet. Tureen dates to the 1830's.
Dimensions: 12" high (with lid in place), 15" long and 10" wide. Base measures 7 1/4" high (including feet), 13" long (not including handles) and 10" wide with the interior bowl being 10 1/2" long, 8" wide and 5 3/4" deep.
Condition: Tureen is in excellent Estate condition reflecting only minimal signs of surface wear from normal use but no noted flaws or defects. The silver will polish beautifully if further polishing is desired. Interior is clean and bright. Piece is in amazing condition for being almost 200 years old.
Although Old Sheffield Plate is actually a plated silver, the process of producing this silver is completely different from the electroplating process we know today. The process of fusing silver and copper was discovered in 1743 and the process was used to make silver items available to those who could not afford the solid sterling silver items being produced by silversmiths of the late 1700's and early 1800's. The silver was produced by placing a thin sheet of sterling silver over a thicker sheet of copper and then heating the two to fuse the layers together. The composite "block" was then hammered or rolled to make it thinner in order to work into the desired designs. This process was very labor intensive but produced a product more economical than using solid silver. The manufacture of Old Sheffield Plate was generally discontinued in 1840 with the discovery of the electroplating silver plating process still used today.
One distinctive feature of Old Sheffield Plate is that the outer edge of the item often has a mellow glow from the exposure of the copper under layer. On pieces with both sides to be exposed, the copper layer was often "sandwiched" between two layers of sterling. This beautiful old silver should be properly labeled "Old Sheffield Plate" and not confused with "Sheffield" silver plate. This category of silver is highly desired by collectors today and choice pieces are becoming harder to find.
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