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Britannia metal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Teapot, Britannia metal

Britannia metal (also called britannium or Britannia ware[1]) is a specific type of pewter alloy, favoured for its silvery appearance and smooth surface. The composition by weight is typically about 92% tin, 6% antimony, and 2% copper.[2]

Britannia metal is usually spun rather than cast,[1] and melts at 255 degrees Celsius.[3]



Britannia metal was first produced[4] in 1769 or 1770. James Vickers created it after purchasing the formula from a dying friend. It was originally known as "Vickers White Metal" when made under contract by the Sheffield manufacturers Ebenezer Hancock and Richard Jessop. In 1776 James Vickers took over the manufacturing himself and remained as owner until his death in 1809, when the company passed to his son John and son-in-law Elijah West. In 1836 the company was sold to John Vickers's nephew Ebenezer Stacey (the son of Hannah Vickers and John Stacey).

After the development of electroplating with silver in 1846, Britannia metal was widely used as the base metal for silver-plated household goods and cutlery.[5] The abbreviation EPBM on such items denotes "electroplated Britannia metal". Britannia metal was generally used as a cheaper alternative to electroplated nickel silver (EPNS) which is more durable.

Until 2016, britannium was used to make the solid core of the Oscar statuettes. The 8½ lb (4 kg) statuettes were Britannia metal plated with gold.[6] The awards have since changed to a bronze core.

In his essay "A Nice Cup of Tea", writer George Orwell asserts that "britanniaware" teapots "produce inferior tea" when compared to chinaware.[7]

See also



  1. ^ a b "Britannia Ware English".
  2. ^ "Britannia metal". Archived from the original on 2012-11-15. Retrieved 2012-09-16.
  3. ^ Composition and Physical Properties of Alloys Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine, Oliver Seely, August 18, 2007
  4. ^ The New Encyclopædia Britannica, Micropædia (2002, 15th edition)
  5. ^ Krupp, Alfred; Andreas Wildberger (1888). The metallic alloys: A practical guide for the manufacture of all kinds of alloys, amalgams, and solders, used by metal-workers ... with an appendix on the coloring of alloys and the recovery of waste metals. H.C. Baird & Co.
  6. ^ "Oscar Statuette". 25 July 2014.
  7. ^ George Orwell (12 January 1946). "A Nice Cup of Tea". Evening Standard – via Books AtoZ.