Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Britannia Metal

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A trade description for a pewter alloy containing a comparatively high proportion of antimony – typically 92% tin, 6% antimony and 2% copper.

This alloy was first introduced by Sheffield manufacturers in the second half of the 18th century. It was also known in its early days as white metal

Reputedly discovered by James Vickers but this is disputed by Nathaniel Gower.

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It was originally known as "Vickers White Metal" when made under contract by the Sheffield manufacturers Ebenezer Hancock and Richard Jessop. In 1776 James Vickers took over the manufacturing himself and remained as owner until his death in 1809, when the company passed to his son John and son-in-law Elijah West. In 1836 the company was sold to John Vickers's nephew Ebenezer Stacey (the son of Hannah Vickers and John Stacey).

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.

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