Household silver

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A silver dinner service

Household silver or silverware (the silver, the plate) includes tableware, cutlery and other household items made of sterling silver, Britannia silver or Sheffield plate silver. Silver is sometimes bought in sets or combined to form sets, such as a set of silver candlesticks or a silver tea set.

Silver requires a good deal of care, as it tarnishes and must be hand polished, since careless or machine polishing ruins the patina and can completely erode the silver layer in Sheffield plate.

In a great house, the footmen cleaned and polished the silver, overseen by the butler who was responsible for it. In middle-income households the few items of silver or silverplate may be displayed on a buffet or in a cabinet or china cabinet or breakfront, but a larger collection of silver is usually locked away in a secure room or a special silver safe.

A silverman or silver butler has expertise and professional knowledge of the management, secure storage, use and cleaning of all silverware, associated tableware and other paraphernalia for use at military and other special functions. This expertise covers the maintenance, cleaning,proper use and presentation of these assets to create aesthetically correct layouts for effective ambience at such splendid occasions. The role of silverman tends now to be restricted to some private houses and large organizations, in particular the military.

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