PLATING, is the art cf covering baser metals with a thin plate of silver, either for use or for ornament. It is said to have been invented by a spur-maker, not for show, but for real utility. Till then the more elegant spurs in common use were made of solid silver ; and from the flexibility of that metal, they were liable to be bent into inconvenient forms by the slightest accident. To remedy this defect, a workman at Birmingham contrived to make the branches of a pair of spurs hol low, and to fill that hollow with a slender rod of steel or iron. Finding this a great improvement, and being desirous to add cheapness to utility, he continued to make the hollow larger, and of course the iron thicker and thicker, till at last he discov ered the means coating an iron spur with silver in such a manner, as to make it equally elegant with those which were made wholly of that metal. The inven tion was quickly applied to other purpo ses ; and to numberless utensils, which were formerly made of brass or iron, are now given the strength of these metals, and the elegance of silver, for a small ad ditional expense. The silver plate was formerly made to adhere to the baser metal by means of solder ; which is of two kinds, the soft and the hard, or the tin silver solders. The former of these consists of tin alone, the latter generally of three parts of silver and one of brass. When a buckle, for instance, is to be pla .ted by means of the soft solder, the ring, before it is bent, is first tinned, and then the silver-plate is gently hammered upon it, the hammer employed being always covered with a piece of cloth. The silver
now forms, as it were, a mould to the ring, and whatever of it is not intended to be used is cut off. This mould is fastened to the ring of the buckle by two or three cramps of iron-wire ; after which the buckle, with the plated side undermost, is laid upon a plate of iron sufficiently hot to melt the tin, but not the silver. The buc kle is then covered with powdered resin, or anointed with turpentine ; and, lest there should be a deficiency of tin, a small portion of rolled tin is likewise melted on it. The buckle is now taken off with tongs, and laid on a bed of sand ; where the plate and the ring, while the solder is yet in a state of fusion, are more closely compressed by a smart stroke with a block of wood. The buckle is afterwards bent and finished.
The mode of plating at present is, to fasten plates of silver upon thicker plates ofcopper, and then rolling them together into thin plates. The copper is twelve times thicker than the silver, and one ounce of silver is rolled to a surface of three feet or more. The plates being thus made, they are then stamped by a single stroke into the size and form of buckles, buttons, spoons, he.