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Britannia metal was first produced in 1769 or 1770; it was created by James Vickers after purchasing the formula off 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).
Britannia metal melts at 255 degrees Celsius.
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. 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.
Some authorities and collectors think this "white metal" sometimes formed a base for early experimentations in mercury and tin or latten metal plating in the 18th and early 19th centuries.. One notable use of britannium is to make the Oscar statuettes handed out each year at the Academy Awards. The 8½-pound statuettes are Britannia metal plated with gold.
Britannia metal is also called Britannia Ware.