Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 800 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GERMAN SILVER or NICKEL SILVER, an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc, prepared either by melting the copper and nickel together in a crucible, and adding piece by piece the previously, heated zinc, or by heating the finely divided metals under a layer ' of charcoal. To destroy its crystalline structure and so render it fit for working, it is heated to dull redness, and then allowed to cool. German silver is harder than silver; it resembles that metal in colour, but is of a greyer tinge. Exposed to the air it tarnishes slightly yellow, and with vinegar affords a crust of verdigris. At a bright red heat it melts, losing its zinc by oxida- tion unless protected from the atmosphere. At a heat above dull redness it becomes exceedingly brittle. German silver in various modifications of composition is much used in the arts. Alloys, of which about 5o% is copper and the residue zinc and nickel in about equal proportions take a fine polish, and are used as imitation silver for knives and forks. With a somewhat higher proportion of copper an alloy is formed suitable for rolling and for wire. In Chinese white silver or packfong (paktong) the amount of copper is smaller, about 40%, with about 32 % of nickel, 25 of zinc, and 2 or 3 of iron. German silver for casting contains 2 or 3 % of lead, which like iron increases the whiteness of the alloy. German silver, having a high specific resistance and a low temperature coefficient, has been used for electrical resistance coils, and these qualities are possessed in a still greater degree in manganin, which contains manganese in place of zinc, its composition being 84% of copper, 12 of manganese and 4 of nickel. The addition of a trace of tungsten to German silver, as in platinoid, also largely increases the resistance.
End of Article: GERMAN SILVER

Additional information and Comments

i want to know that german silver is used in cooking foods-is it harmless or not to the cooked foods?
German silver should be safe for food. The metal you want to watch out for is lead.
I have purchased a vintage mirror/brush set, both outlined in German Silver and marked, "Patent Applied For." I believe the back of each piece is French ivory and the mirror is bevelled glass. Both pieces are rather heavy. I have no idea of value or actual age. Help?
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