Two replies to Richard McDanel's question on
Bill Kime writes:
With reference to Richard McDanel's
question about the marks on a sauce boat and a tureen, featured in
the ASCAS newsletter #7, November, 2004, I've seen similar marks on
silver plated wares here in Canada on several occasions... always
assuming that they were of mid-20th century English origin... the
objects are usually characterized by particularly heavy casting of
white metal in quite elaborate and flamboyant styles, sometimes with
fanciful armorials, as evidenced by the two objects photographed by
Though the marks on the two pieces appear to be different, both
include the letters EP in almost identical old English script and I
wouldn't be at all surprised to find that they were made by the same
manufacturer, though perhaps for different suppliers or retailers.
In general, any representation at all of the letters EP as part of a
set of 'hallmarks' first should be considered as a probable
indicator of silver-plate marks... that's a reliable 99% rule, and
one to remember (though it's always worth keeping an eye open for
that stray piece of 18th century Scottish silver assayed by Edward
Many plate marks of this type were
somewhat disguised as hallmarks and intended to confuse the layman
to some extent... some will even include a tantalizing lion or a
crown, just to make it all the more exciting... so, it's important
to remind yourself that the assaying of silver and the application
of silver hallmarks, particularly in England, but in some other
countries as well, was quite methodical and was regulated by law (as
always, it's all about taxes!).
If the marks don't seem to add up, then they probably don't add up
and it's time to review them with a more critical eye. In fairness
to the manufacturers, however, their intention really wasn't to
deceive anyone... it was more to avoid making it obvious at a glance
that an object was silver-plated, as opposed to being made of solid
silver, whilst the object was in use... essentially, to thwart the
curiosity of those guests who might slyly turn over their spoons to
see what their hosts were made of!
English silver-plate marks of the 'pseudo-hallmark' style actually
originate with the earliest old Sheffield plate of the 18th century,
but it isn't until the latter part of the 19th century, well after
the establishment of electro-plating technology, that we begin to
see the appearance of the letters EP, either singly or together, in
These marks might typically include manufacturers initials, perhaps
a quality guarantee (A1 is commonly seen), a reference to the base
metal employed (as in EPNS, EPBM or EPC... for electro-plated
nickel-silver, Britannia metal or copper respectively), sometimes
with other brand-associated devices as well, all arranged in such a
way as to appear like a set of silver hallmarks at a glance.
It can be very confusing. I'm sorry that this turns out to be not
much of an answer to Mr. McDaniel's question...
I can't suggest who might have made these two articles and I'm
afraid I don't know of a good reference book to recommend for
tracing plater's marks... I rather doubt that one exists... the
incentive for putting such a thing together might be rather low and
the task a formidable one. I'd like to hear of one though.
Hymie Dinerstein writes:
Regarding the marks on the sauceboat and sauce tureen, these
purport to be the silverplate marks for Elkington and Co, the great
inventors of electroplating.
But I have my doubts. If these pieces are quite heavy and are in perfect
condition, then I suspect that they are 1960's copies produced in the
Far East in an Antimony based cast Metal called Mazack. This was a very
poor product but looked beautiful when plated. Unfortunately, the
English silver platers did not like replating it and if it was dropped
and a foot broke off, or something was damaged, it could not be properly
repaired (It could be "cobbled together). It was inferior to Brittania
Metal which in itself was considered the " POOR MANS" Electroplate.