FOREIGN PLATED-WARE INDUSTRY
Plated ware is not so important an article of commerce in Germany as in either England or the United States. A solid low percentage gold alloy from 8 to 10 carats fine (the commercially pure gold of Germany is 14 carats fine) has proved a popular substitute for gold plate at home, and the business of the gold-plate factories is largely export. Silver-plated ware is replaced to a great extent on the one hand by articles made of composition metal, and on the other hand by articles of solid silver. The commercial silver of Germany is but 0.800 fine, compared with the English and American standard of 0.925 fine. Solid silver articles are correspondingly cheaper, and with the decline in the price of silver metal during recent years have come within the reach of an enlarging circle of purchasers.
Articles of Composition Metals
While solid-silver articles have thus been making inroads on the demand for plated ware on the part of the better to do, purchasers of more limited means find a comparatively cheap substitute in the composition metals. The contributor to the "Daily Consular and Trade Reports" was shown a platter of solid 0.800-fine silver priced at $60. The same thing in composition, the dealer said, might be purchased for as low as $10, while plated it would probably cost $35. Even aside from considerations of price, composition articles are often preferred, because being of one material throughout, they retain in all stages of wear much the same outward appearance. A few years ago an English firm opened a store in Berlin stocked with silverplated ware. Although the store was centrally located, contained attractive displays and was properly advertised, it was closed within 12 months as a failure.
The composition metals referred to are known in English as white metal and German silver, and in German as Neusilber or new silver. Each factory holds the exact character of its compositions secret. The general formula is 50 to 60 per cent, copper, 19 to 31 per cent, zinc or tin, and 13 to 18½ per cent, nickel.
Germany's exports of composition-metal wares of all kinds, so far as the classification of the statistics allows them to be distinguished, were valued at $1,421,000 in 1911, and at $1,502,000 in 1912: imports during the same years were valued at $825,000 and $1,019,000, respectively. The Empire's exports of gilded and gold-plated wares of all kinds were valued at $2,385,000 in 1911 and $2,640,000 in 1912, while the imports were valued at $884,000 and $819,000, respectively. The exports of silvered and silver-plated ware of all kinds were valued at $2,517,000 in 1911 and $2,940,000 in 1912; the imports were valued at $803,000 in 1911 and $773,000 in 1912.
Source: The Brass World and Platers' Guide - March 1914