Silver plate (not to be confused with plate/platt with the meaning of “chart” or “map”).

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Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

On October 14, 1664 Pepys has a valuable insight. Silver plate and utensils are a convenient and useful way to use his savings, and the craftsmanship outweighs the value of the silver involved:

"Coming home, weighed, my two silver flaggons at Stevens’s. They weigh 212 oz. 27 dwt., which is about 50l., at 5s. per oz., and then they judge the fashion to be worth above 5s. per oz. more — nay, some say 10s. an ounce the fashion. But I do not believe, but yet am sorry to see that the fashion is worth so much, and the silver come to no more."…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Stewart posted about Sterling Silver, Gold & Gilt:

English silver and gold have been tightly controlled since at least 1300 and this is probably the best system of consumer protection in history. The penalties were such that there were remarkably few abuses.

Sterling standard silver is and was an alloy of 925 parts per thousand of pure silver, with added or residual amounts of copper, etc.

Gold was generally 22 carat or 22/24 pure, until 18 carat was introduced in 1798, as pure gold is too soft to be worked usefully.

Gilt does mean sterling silver gilded with pure gold - this by coating the piece with an amalgam of gold and mercury and then burning the mercury off - very attractive but very deleterious to the health of the workmen involved breathing the poisonous mercury fumes.

A piece of (silver) plate was charged by weight with two amounts, one per (Troy) ounce for the actual weight of bullion used, and the second also per ounce for the workmanship, less for plainer, more for ornate.

Since the coinage passed at the actual bullion content of the coins (or close to it) we know what an ounce of silver was worth, so the "overage" was approximately eight shillings for the ounce and a half of bullion, and four shillings for the "making".

The relatively high value of the bullion to the wages of the craftsmen made silver plate an attractive way of storing value up against a rainy day, while enjoying both the use and display of the piece -- Pepys becomes something of an addict to fine plate.…

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