metal plating

Britannia metal

Britannia metal is a pewter-type alloy favoured for its silvery appearance and smooth surface. The composition is approximately 93% tin, 5% antimony, and 2% copper.

It was first produced in 1769 or 1770, under the name of "Vickers White Metal", by the Sheffield manufacturers Ebenezer Hancock and Richard Jessop.

After the development of electroplating with silver in 1846, Britannia metal was widely used as the base metal for silver plated household goods and cutlery. The abbreviation EPBM on such items denotes Electroplated Britannia Metal. Britannia metal was generally used as a cheaper alternative to electroplated nickel silver (EPNS) which is more durable.

Some authorities and collectors think that it is this "white metal" that sometimes formed a base for early experimentations in mercury and tin or latten metal plating in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

One famous use of Britannia metal (also referred to as Britannium) is to make the Oscar statuettes handed out each year at the Academy Awards. The 8½-pound statuettes are Britannia metal plated with gold. The America's Cup is also made of this material.

Britannia metal should be distinguished from Britannia silver, a high-grade alloy of silver.

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