CoTipperary-L ArchivesArchiver > CoTipperary > 2004-02 > 1076444123
From: Geralyn W Barry <>
Subject: Re: silver plating
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 12:15:41 -0800
Jerry asked about silver plating, not silver smithing. Jerry, exactly what
kind of silver plating did your ancestor do in Davenport, Iowa [US]? Do you
have any additional information on the exact nature of the craft he engaged
in? Did he own his own business or was he employed by a company? Was there
an electroplating shop in Davenport, Iowa at that time - perhaps making
cutlery or tableware or fancy harnesses? Do you know what kinds of
industries were in Davenport that could have been doing silver plating in
the early 1860s?
I found a few references online to electroplating in Iowa in the 1800s and
1. http://www.celticcousins.net/scott/auntmart2.htm mentions someone from
LeClaire who worked at the "Iowa Silver Plating works" in the early 1940s.
2. http://www.rootsweb.com/~neresour/andreas/douglas/douglas-p27.html has
an entry from "Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska" for "H. R. BROWN,
foreman of silver plating department, U. P. R. R.".
That says Brown "[a]rrived in Omaha, 1877, commenced work at U. P. Company
Shops as silver plater, in 1880 was appointed foreman of the plating
department." [UPRR is the Union Pacific Railroad]
3. http://www.celticcousins.net/scott/file34.html - census of the city of
Davenport, taken March 1858 (list of occupations) lists 1 silver plater.
Was he your ancestor?
4. The 1880 US census lists one silver plater in Davenport - Henry McPIKE
from New York.
I think it's important to understand exactly what your ancestor was doing
before you go looking for Irish records of guilds or apprenticeships. Much
of the work in the electroplating industry was (and is) dirty and dangerous
work (with chemicals not known for their healthful effects). I would guess
that some of the work would have been done by laborers - unskilled perhaps
- not craftsmen. Then there were the people who were more skilled and some
who even understood the chemistry involved. Do you have any idea exactly
what your ancestor's role was in silver plating?
Do you know what kind of silver plating he was doing - electrolysis,
cladding or something else? Through the ages, there have different kinds of
plating or cladding technologies - ways of applying a layer of precious
metal to a less expensive base metal. One particular process of silver
plating was developed by cutler Thomas Boulsover of Sheffield, Yorkshire,
England in 1743. This process appears to be sometimes known as silver
cladding. The more modern silver plating method of electrolysis was
discovered in the early 1800s and not developed commercially until the
1830s or 1840s.
A good reference encyclopedia would have more about the development of
silver plating. I found a couple of websites with some history about
Geralyn Wood Barry in Oregon, USA
----- Original Message -----
From: "gerald o'meara" <>
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 12:58 AM
Subject: Silver Plating
> Have several questions concerning the trade of silver plating. Was silver
plating a craft practiced in Ireland in the 1830s-1840's and 1850's? Were
young Irish lads allowed to learn and practice this craft? Did the English
government restrict entry into the trade? My great grandfather engaged in
this pursuit in and around Davenport Iowa in the early 1860s. Th ultimate
issue I want is to determine is whether he brought his skills with him from
Ireland or learned them after his arrival in the U.S. If this trade was
learned in Ireland were members listed in a duild members list?