Sheffield plate was produced by the fusion of silver and a base metal, usually copper or copper and brass. The process, developed initially at Sheffield around the middle of the 18th Century and later at Birmingham, remained popular for about 100 years until the advent of electroplating in the 1840s. Durable, visually attractive and considerably cheaper than silver, it was extremely popular and was put to widespread use. Candlesticks, dish rings, coasters and a wide range of tableware were produced. Large quantities were imported into Ireland, especially in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. The examples in the Museum collection were acquired largely between 1895 and 1910, at a time when there was considerable emphasis on exhibiting contemporary design, style and craftsmanship.
Bronze, an alloy of copper and tin, has been used from very early times to make weapons, domestic utensils, jewellery and works of art. The material in-store here ranges in date from the late 1500s to the early 20th Century and includes examples of work from Ireland, England, France, Germany and Italy. The collection contains material acquired for its religious, utilitarian or artistic merits.
Brass, an alloy of copper and zinc, did not come in to general use until the 16th Century. As with bronze, it was put to a whole range of religious and secular uses. The collection consists of Irish, English and European pieces, including a considerable amount of 18th-Century Dutch material and several examples of Russian religious objects.
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