History and Development
- Nickel silver was first smelted in China from unprocessed ore.
- It was smuggled into the East Indies during the Qing dynasty, despite a government ban.
- In the West, it was known as 'baitong' or 'paktong' and used to imitate sterling silver.
- The earliest European mention of 'paktong' was in 1597.
- German artificial recreation of nickel silver began in the mid-18th century.
- The Chinese alloy was known as paktong, while in Europe, it was initially called argentan.
- The term 'nickel silver' was coined in the 19th century.
Uses of Nickel Silver
- Nickel silver is used in silver-plated cutlery and other silverware.
- It is used in zippers, costume jewelry, and musical instruments.
- The alloy is preferred for the track in electric model railway layouts.
- It is used for durable keys, lock cylinder pins, and coins.
- Nickel silver is used in marine fittings, plumbing fixtures, and heating coils.
- Counterfeiters have used nickel silver to produce fake silver rounds and Morgan dollars.
- Replica bullion bars marked as nickel silver or German silver have been sold without disclosing the absence of elemental silver.
- Prolonged contact of copper alloys, including nickel silver, with acidic food or beverages can leach out copper and cause toxicity.
- Long-term, low doses of copper can lead to cirrhosis.
- Some people have allergic reactions to nickel, causing a persistent rash.
Related Metals and Alloys
- Argentium sterling silver, a different precious white metal with improved tarnish resistance.
- Britannia silver, an alloy with a higher silver content than nickel silver.
- Britannia metal, an alloy primarily made of tin.
- Cupronickel, an alloy of copper and nickel.
- Sheffield plate, a layered silver-plated metal.
Nickel silver Data Sources