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Four sweetmeat dishes

Four sweetmeat dishes

  • Place of origin:

    Sheffield (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1765 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sheffield plate

  • Credit Line:

    The Wolseley Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

A sweetmeat dish is a type of dish which came in various forms, styles and sizes. It was used for serving sweetmeats which were small shaped pieces of confectionary consisting chiefly of sugar or chocolate with flavouring or filling at the end of the meal. At the end of the 18th century these items were made both in silver and Sheffield plate.

Sheffield plate originated with the discovery in 1742 by a working cutler of Sheffield, Thomas Boulsover (1704-88), that bars of silver and copper, in unequal proportions, fused by heating under pressure, could be rolled into sheets of laminated metal and worked like silver. The industry this material created, flourished for approximately one hundred years until superseded by electroplating in the 1840s.

The process Joseph Hancock (1711-1790) developed for the large-scale production fused plate (Sheffield plate) differed little throughout the course of the industry. An ingot of copper was covered with a thin sheet of sterling silver. These ingots were approximately 1½ to 1¾ inches thick and 2½ inches wide by 8 inches long. This could vary according to the weight and size of the plated sheet that was required to be made. Generally speaking however, the thickness of the silver sheet was 1/40 that of the copper block which meant that 10-12 oz of silver was used for every 8 lbs of copper.

After about 1760, it became the practice to plate two sides of the copper ingot so that the resulting sheet was plated with silver on both sides. In 1830, Samuel Roberts (1763-1849) patented a variation (no. 5963), July 1830) whereby a sheet of German silver, an alloy of copper, zinc and nickel, was inserted between the silver and the copper block. This produced a laminate of far greater durability.

Physical description

Oval, with scalloped borders pierced with flowers, gadrooned sides, the bottom fluted and gadrooned with plain centre. Imitation silver marks.

Place of Origin

Sheffield (made)


ca. 1765 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Sheffield plate


Length: 11.4 cm, Width: 9.3 cm

Descriptive line

Sweetmeat dish, Sheffield plate, English, ca. 1765

Production Note

Reason For Production: Retail


Sheffield plate


Eating; Metalwork; Tableware & cutlery

Production Type

Mass produced


Metalwork Collection

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