Sunday, August 28, 2011

Silver Glossary

Silver Glossary

Acanthus: A Mediterranean plant with prickly leaves; a popular motif on Classical revival silver in the late 18th century.

Actuals: Physical commodities as opposed to futures contracts or the commodity that underlies a futures contract.

Ag: The Chemical symbol of silver, from the Latin Argentum.

Allocated Metal Assigning defined quantities of physical metals to specific accounts. For example, if an investor buys shares in a gold exchange-traded fund, each share is backed by a defined amount of physical gold.

Alloy: Any substance combined of two or more chemical element by fusion or diffusion and having metallic properties of which at least one is an elemental metal. Silver with a purity of less than .999 is an alloy.

Alluvial: Sedimentary material from running water, sometimes containing precious metals, which is deposited in river beds, flood plains, lakes or at the foot of mountain slopes.

Alpacca: trade name of an alloy of 60 percent copper, 20 percent nickel, 20 percent zinc and 5 percent tin. Note: it contains no silver. however its white color and durable nature makes it ideal for silver plating. It was originally formulated in Germany during the 19th century by two chemists, Henninger and Geitner. It is often spelt as Alpaca and is also known as German Silver or Nickel Silver.

Amalgam: Silver mixed with mercury. Sometimes also copper gold or another metal. Used since classical times. Amalgam was commonly used in dentistry for many years.
Anchor: The Birmingham mark on sterling silver.

Andrion: Supports used for log burning and known to have been made of silver. Also called Fire Dogs.

Annealing: This is the process of heating silver in between session so hammering, pressing or rolling. Whereas the compression makes the silver brittle, the heating restores the molecular structure to its prestressed state possibly by realigning the molecules.

Apostle Spoon: The traditional figural form. Apostle spoons usually come in sets of thirteen. Christ and the twelve apostles. Often given as Christmas gifts, early hallmarked examples can be traced back to 1478. Each figure is identified by the tribute in the right hand.

Applique: A term used to describe a decoration made separately and then added to the body of the object later.

Anthemion: a stylised honeysuckle flower motif.

Apostle Spoon: Spoons terminating in figures representative of Christ and the twelve apostles. Popular as Christening presents. Earliest examples date to the 15th century.

Approved Carriers An exchange-authorized armored carrier approved for the transport of precious metals.

Arabesque: form of Oriental style decoration using symmetrically scrolling foliage.
Argent: An English term used for silver, based on Latin term "Argentum."

Argentum: The Latin word for silver.

Argyll: A container for gravy or sauce incorporating a heat source such as a hot water reservoir. Original design attributed to the 18th century Duke of Argyll.
Armorial Bearings: (also Arms, Coat of Arms) consists of a shield and its external ornaments.

Ask: The price which the seller is willing to accept for a commodity; also known as the offer price.

Assay: An analytical test or trial to find out the fineness, or purity, and consistency of precious and other metals.

Au: The chemical symbol for gold.

Aurum: the Latin for gold.


Backwardization: A market situation in which prices are progressively lower in future months than in the nearest month. Opposite of "Contango." Bactericides: Materials, such as silver salts, that kill bacteria.

Bank Wire: An electronic transfer of funds through the Federal Reserve System from one financial institution to another for the benefit of a specific account.

Base Metals: Copper, aluminium, iron, lead, nickel, tin and zinc. Metals that are not noble or precious and serve as a base for any object clad or covered with precious metals.

Basis: The variation between the spot price of a deliverable and the relative price of the futures for the same actual that has the shortest duration until maturity.

Bateman: Hester Bateman (1709-94) was matriarch of a successful family firm of 18th century London silversmiths.

Bear Market: A market where prices are falling or expected to fall. A market characterized by a declining trend in terms of prices.

Bid: The bid price is the price at which a dealer is willing to buy a commodity; opposite of "ask".

Biological Leaching: A process for the dissolution of metals from ores using acterial action.

Black Jack: a form of leather jug or tankard, associated with the 17th century, occasionally mounted with a silver rim.

Blast Furnace: A furnace where mixed charges of oxide or sulphide ores (copper, iron, lead, tin, etc.), fluxes and fuels are blown with a continuous blast of hot air and sometimes oxygen-enriched air to force combustion for the chemical reduction of ores with metals to their metallic states.

Blast Hole: A hole drilled in rock for blasting with explosives, rather than for exploration and geological information.

Bleeding Bowl: a small shallow, single handled bowl supposedly used whilst bleeding a patient. Generally 17th or 18th century.

Bombé: the term for a bulbous, outwardly curved form.

Bougie Box: a cylindrical container holding a coiled wax taper for use as a light.
Brazing Alloys: See "silver solder".

Bright-cut: technique for engraving silver with a sharp, burnished tool leaving a highly polished cut. Used for feather-edge decoration.

Britannia: a standard of silver defined by law as 958.3 parts pure silver in a 1000. The Britannia standard was introduced in 1697 in the UK to halt the widespread melting down of sterling standard silver coinage. The traditional sterling hallmark of a lion passant was replaced by the figure of Britannia. A relaxation of the law in 1720 saw the reinstatement of the sterling standard although many silversmiths, such as Paul de Lamerie, continued to work in the softer Britannia standard as it was better suited to the elaborate and fashionable Rococo style.

Bruise: An accidental indentation or dent to silver.

Bull Market: A market where prices are rising or expected to rise. A market characterized by upwardly moving price trend.

Bullion Coin: A precious metal coin whose market value is determined by its inherent precious metal content. They are bought and sold mainly for investment purposes.
Bullion: Precious metals, including gold, silver, platinum, and palladium, in a tradable form of .995 purity or finer. they are traded based on their intrinsic metal value.

By-product: A secondary or additional mineral or mineral product from a mine, refinery or a secondary refinery.


Caddy spoon: a small spoon designed in the mid-17th century for measuring tea into a teapot.

Call Option: An option giving the right but not the obligation to go long at a specific price on or before a particular date.

Candelabrum: a multi-light candlestick often loaded with pitch for stability. 18th to 19th century.

Canteen: originally described a set of bespoke-made articles used for eating, drinking and personal hygiene whilst travelling; latterly, the general term for a service of flatware and cutlery.

Carry Market: A market situation in which a futures contract for a commodity has a higher value in the nearest delivery month relative to the expiration date.

Carrying Charge: The cost associated with holding a financial instrument or storing a physical commodity over a defined period of time.

Cash Commodity: The actual physical commodity underlying a futures contract.

Cash Market or Price: The physical commodity or the price required for immediate settlement. Also known as "spot price."

Cash Market: The market for a cash commodity where the actual physical product is traded.

Cash: U.S. or another countries currency.

Cashier's Check: Check drawn by a bank with its own funds and signed by its cashier.
Cast: A technique for producing a solid decorative motif or form in silver from a mould.

Caster: A bottle with a pieced cover for distributing spices, pepper or sugar on food.

Casting: The formation of objects by pouring molten metal into molds.

Catalyst: A chemical (metal) substance by which its mere presence accelerates, assists, retards or permits a chemical reaction but remains chemically unchanged in nature or amount at the end of the reaction.

Central Bank: The entity responsible for establishing a nation's monetary and fiscal policy and controlling the money supply and interest rates. In the U.S., the Federal Reserve Board is often referred to as the central bank.

Chalice: A wine cup used during Mass or Communion.

Chamber stick: A short, portable candlestick usually with drip tray and snuffer for extinguishing the light.

Champlevé: Decorating a surface by filling engraved troughs with enamel before polishing.

Chandelier: Multi-light ceiling ornament.

Chasing: The raising and shaping silver by scoring and hammering to create decoration.

Châtelaine: A collection of small domestic tools, such as scissors and keys, attached to a hook to wear, generally by a woman, on a belt. Chinoiserie: A form of European decoration imitating techniques and motifs of the Orient; especially fashionable in the late 17th century and revived during the Regency vs Ciborium: A bowl and cover used for consecrating bread for the Holy Sacrament.

Classical: Silver which reproduces forms and decoration of Greek and Roman antiquity. Especially fashionable in the late Georgian and Regency periods (1770-1830).

Cleaning: Silver in everyday use need only be washed in soap and water before being thoroughly dried with a soft cloth (silver should never be left wet) and stored in baize or tissue. Salt corrodes silver so salt cellars should be fitted with glass liners or part gilded (gold does not react to salt). Various proprietary cleaners are available for cleaning tarnished silver but liquid cleaners are preferred to dry, abrasive solutions. Always use a soft cloth to dry and polish.

Cloisonné: Decoration using enamel poured into a design pre-determined by a wire outline.

Close: The official end of a trading session.

Coaster: A shallow sided circular dish, usually with wooden base, for holding a bottle of wine or decanter.

Coat of Arms: The heraldic bearings of a family of rank, a corporation or an institution.

Commercial Silver: Silver that is .999 fine (99.9%) or higher, usually sold and shipped in 1000 oz. bars.

Commission: The fee charged by a broker for the execution of an order.

Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC): U.S. federal regulatory agency created under the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Act of 1974. It ensures open and efficient operation of the futures markets.

Commodity, commodities: Raw materials that can be bought and sold.

Complex Ore: An ore containing a number of minerals, one or more of which are of economic value, usually implying difficulty in the extraction or separation of the valuable metals.

Concentrate: An enriched fraction of an ore after separation from other unwanted minerals.

Conductivity: A measure of the ability of a metal to conduct an electrical current.
Contango: A market situation in which prices are progressively higher in future months than in the nearest delivery month. A Contango market usually reflects ample supplies of a commodity. Also known as a carry market ity is the exact opposite of "Backwardization."

Contract: An agreement between two or more parties enforceable by law. When applied to commodities, it is an agreement to accept or deliver a specific amount of the commodity on a certain date.

Core Sample: The long cylinder of rock, about one inch or more in diameter recovered by diamond drilling during exploration.

Crown: The Sheffield mark on sterling silver. An assay office was established in the city in 1773.

Cruet: Frame fitted to hold bottles and casters of oil, vinegar and spices for use whilst dining.

Current Delivery Month: Also called the spot month, it refers to the period during which a futures contract becomes available during the current month or the month closest to scheduled delivery.

Cut and Fill: A method of stoping where ore is removed in slices, or lifts, after which the excavated slice or lift is filled with rock or other waste material known as backfill, before the next ore is mined.

Cut-card work: The application by solder of small decorative pieces of silver to flat silver to add ornamentation. Late 17th- early 18th century.

Cutlery: The specific term for knives with blades made by specialist cutlers. Until the introduction of stainless steel in the mid-19th century, most knives were mounted with carbon steel blades often bearing the distinctive cutler's mark of a dagger.

Cyanidation: The extraction of gold or silver by dissolving it in a weak solution of alkali metal cyanide.


Damascene: one metal inlaid for decoration (by hammering into scored grooves) with another.

Deliverable Bar: A precious metals bar with a weight, fineness and hallmark approved as a tradable unit on a commodity exchange.

Delivery Month: The calendar month in which the futures contract matures and within which the delivery of the physical commodity is stipulated. Delivery Point: A location designated by an exchange at which delivery may be made in fulfillment of contract terms.

Delivery: The exchange by which an underlying commodity, cash, or other delivery instrument is tendered and received by the contract holder. The tender of the actual commodity such as silver or gold against a short position in futures during the period allowed by the futures contract. Depository or Warehouse Receipt: A document issued by a depository institution indicating ownership of a commodity stored in a vault or warehouse.

Derivative: Financial instrument whose value is derived from the underlying actual, futures contract, or other financial instrument. For example, futures contracts are derivatives of physical commodities, options on futures are derivatives of futures contracts.

Dessert service: matching cutlery and flatware specifically made for use whilst eating dessert. Often richly decorated and gilded to prevent fruit acid corroding the silver. 17th-19th centuries.

Differential floatation: An after-milling process for the separation of an ore from associated gangue or waste rock, whereby more than one valuable mineral is floated and separated, one from the other, as well as from the waste constituents of the ore.
Differentials: Premiums paid in the market for grades better than the basic grade or discounts allowed for lower grades.

Dilution: Incorporation of low grade mineralization or waste rock with ore during mining operations.

Doré Bullion: An impure alloy of silver and gold produced at a mine; often 35 percent silver, 65 percent gold. Named for the Dore furnace used at mining facilities that produces it.

Doré Silver: Crude silver that contains some gold.

Ductility: An ability to change shape drastically without breaking. The capacity of a metal to be hammered into a thin sheet or drawn into a fine wire without breaking.


Egg and dart: form of decoration, used for mouldings and borders, of alternating arrow shaped and oval motifs.

Electrolysis: The process used for refining precious and other metals in which an electric current passes through an electrolyte (chemical solution) from anode to cathode. Impure metal dissolves at the anode and pure metal is deposited to the cathode.

Electroplating: technique for depositing a layer of pure silver on base metal article by electrolysis (immersing article into electrically charged solution of pure silver). Developed and perfected by Elkington & Co., of Birmingham, in the mid-1800.

Electroplating: The process by which a thin layer of precious or other metal of varying thickness and fineness is electrically deposited onto the surface of another material such as base metal.

Embossing: a form of decoration achieved by pushing silver from beneath creating a raised pattern of domes and curves.

Engraving: decorating silver by scraping or cutting away material to create a design, especially of armorials and crests.

Entrée dish: a covered dish for serving food, sometimes accompanied with heater and stand. 18th-19th century.

Epergne: an elaborate table centrepiece usually mounted with a large basket or bowl surrounded by stands for various dishes. 18th - 19th century. Exchange of Futures for Physicals (EFP): The name given to the method by which both parties of a futures contract that has underlying cash commodities agree to close out their positions simultaneously.

Exchange: A place where business is carried on by brokers; generally refers to one of the major stock or commodity exchanges. Expiration: its price tends to rise; also known as an inverted market.

Exploration: The prospecting, diamond drilling or other work involved in searching for ore.


Étui: small decorative case fitted for essential items such as a pencil, scissors and needles; sometimes attached to a chatelaine. 18th century.


Fabricator: A company which makes fabricated or semi-fabricated products such as wire, cable, tubes, strip, rods, etc. from refined metals and occasionally from scrap.

Feasibility Study: A refinement and reassessment of the prefeasibility study, based on extensive additional information, detailed engineering and optimization work. This provides a level of confidence so that a decision to build the project can be made.

Feather-edge: finely engraved decoration resembling a bird's feather; especially popular on flatware in late 18th century.

Filigree: delicate silver and gold wirework used as decorative panels for small boxes etc. 16th-17th century (European); 19th century (Indian). Fine Ounce: A troy ounce of "pure" precious metal.

Fine Silver: Pure silver whereby 1000 parts fine or 999.5 parts (or higher) per 1000 parts silver.

Fine Weight: The actual weight of the pure gold or silver contained in a coin, ingot, bar or other item with a precious metal content, determined by multiplying the gross weight by the fineness, as opposed to the item's total weight, which includes the weight of the alloying component.

Fineness: A measure of the purity equal to the number of parts of pure silver in 1000 parts of the alloy; represents the purity of precious metals, either in monetary or bullion form.

Finial: an ornament surmounting an object or the terminal of a spoon.

Fix or Fixing: The setting of the precious metals prices once each day by the authorized dealers in London, England. The set prices are used by authorized dealers to buy and sell precious metals for their clients.

Flatware: the term for spoons and forks which are raised from a single, flat piece of silver.

Floatation: The process in which ore is separated from gangue. Ore is agitated in a bath of special liquid so the metallic ore fraction either rises or sinks to the bottom and the gangue does the opposite.

Fluting: channel shaped decoration used on borders etc.

Forward Contract: A cash market transaction in which two parties agree to the purchase and sale of a commodity at some future date.

Fretwork: a repetitive geometric ornamentation engraved on a border etc.

Frosted silver: a decorative technique, involving heat and submersion in sulphuric acid, to create a contrasting layer of pure silver on the surface of sterling silver; especially popular in early 19th century.

Futures: A commodity contract is a commitment which requires delivery or receipt of a commodity at an agreed future date, at an agreed price established by public auction in the trading pit of an organized public commodity exchange.


Gadroon: Decorative moulding of repetitive curving convex flutes, used on borders etc.

Gangue: Waste rock surrounding and/or within an ore which must be separated in order to extract the desired mineral.

Georgian: Silver associated with the reigns of Kings George I (1714-1727), George II (1727-1760) and George III (1760-1820). Also broadly refers to the eighteenth century and to its style.

Gold/Silver Ratio: The number of ounces of silver that can be bought with one ounce of gold.

Good Delivery Bar: A silver or gold bar that meets the 'good delivery' requirements of the London Bullion Market Association. Good delivery bars are the medium for international trading.

Grade: The amount of silver or other metal per metric ton of ore, expressed in grams or kilograms respectively, i.e. the standard set for judging the quality of a mineral, metal or commodity.

Grain: (1) One of the earliest units of weight in which one grain was the equivalent of a grain of wheat taken from the middle of the ear. (2) Spherical particles of silver grain widely sold in the jewellery trade for alloying, made by pouring molten silver into water.


Hallmark: A stamped symbol on silver objects guaranteeing that the metal conforms to certain legal quality standards, also showing place of origin.

Hallmarking: The striking of marks on silver at a legally recognised assay office to describe standard of purity, name of maker, and date and place of assay.

Hallmarks: A group of distinctive marks applied to wrought silver to describe standard, maker, date and origin. Hallmarks vary according to country and place of assay.

Hanoverian pattern: Flatware which has stems with turned up ends; style associated with reigns of Hanoverian monarchs in 18th century.

Hedging: A variety of financial instruments used to guarantee the price to be received or paid on certain commodities such as gold, silver, interest rates, crude oil or currencies.

High Grade: The best or richest ore in a deposit.

Hollowware: Articles wrought from sheets of silver by hammering, spinning or stamping generally for domestic or culinary use eg. teapots.

Host Rock: Rock in which a deposit of precious metals or other minerals occurs.
Humetty: Couped at the ends. Usually refers to saltires and crosses. When on a shield the ends follow the contours of the shield.


Ingot: A mass of silver or gold cast in a mould, or stamped from sheet.
Inventory: The working stock of a refiner, jewellery manufacturer, wholesales or bullion dealer.


Joint Venture: A mineral exploration program or mine operation funded by two or more parties.

Jardinière: A deep bowl or pot, often with handles, intended for the display of flowers. Popular in silver in late 18th century.


Knop: a bulbous ornament on a stem (for instance, of a goblet); can also refer to the terminal of a spoon.


Leaching: The extraction of a soluble metallic compound from ore by dissolving the metals in a solvent.

Leasing: The practice by banks and bullion dealers of lending silver at an annual rate of interest, to jewellery manufacturers and other professional users of the metal to provide part of their working stock.

Leopard’s Head: the London mark on sterling silver.

Lion Passant: the mark applied in the UK to silver of sterling standard.

London Price: See "Fix or Fixing."


Malleable: The property of metals being deprived of form, accepting deformation under pressure, hammering or rolling without breaking. Mazer: A wooden drinking bowl, often with silver mounts and rims. 14th-16th century; revived by artist silversmiths in early 20th century.

Metallurgy: The science of extracting, smelting, refining alloying and fabricating metals.

Mill: The plant facility where the ore is reduced through crushing and grinding, then it becomes a concentrate through flotation or gravity separations.

Mine Production: The content of usable ore-concentrates produced from a mine.

Mineralization: Mineral-bearing rock.

Mining: The extraction of economically important minerals and ores from the earth.

Monstrance: A silver or gold mounted glass vessel for displaying the Host (consecrated bread) at Holy Mass.

Monteith: A large bowl on foot with (removable) scalloped rim for serving drink. Rim was used to support glasses. 17th-18th century.

Moresque: (Arabesque) elaborate foliate engraving for ornamenting silver in the eastern style.


Native silver: Silver found occurring in nature in fairly pure metallic state, notably Norway and Canada.

Nugget: A water-worn piece of precious metal found in nature, usually implying some size.

Numismatics: Relating to the hobby or occupation of collecting coins and related items.

Ogee: form of decorative moulding combining a convex and concave curve having a cross section in the form of an "S".

Old English pattern: description of a simple form of flatware of plain design with stems which turn down at the ends. Spoon bowls sometimes terminate in a point. Popular in late 18th- 19th century.

Options: A privilege or right to buy or sell specified securities or commodities at a definite price within an agreed-upon time.

Ore Reserves: The prime measured assets of a mine as to tonnage and grade that can be extracted at a profit at current prices and at current technology, in the near future. Resources may be classified as proven, probable, possible or speculative.

Ore: A native mineral containing a precious or useful metal or metalliferous minerals in such quantities and in such chemical combination as to make its extraction profitable or a mixture of valuable ore minerals and gangue from which at least one of the metals can be extracted for profit.

Ounce: See "Troy Ounce."

Over-the-Counter (OTC) Options: Flexible options which represent a specific agreement between the seller and the buyer, each acting as a principal. No details of volume are given and the true size and scope of the OTC market is not known.


Pap boat: Plain, elongated shallow bowl with lip for feeding a child (pap is a mixture of flour, sugar and milk).

Parcel-gilt: Silver partly gilded for decorative effect.

Paul de Lamerie: (1688-1751) leading 18th century London silversmith of Huguenot origin famed for his work in the elaborate Rococo style often in Britannia standard. Examples of his work are highly sought after by collectors.

Plate: Traditional term of articles wrought in silver and gold (from Spanish plata). Following the development of Sheffield Plate in the early 18th century, the term was misappropriated to describe any form of silver plating on base metal.

Plique à jour: technique of enamelling using wires within the enamel to create translucent effect similar to stained glass.

Porringer: a small, two handled bowl or cup sometimes with a cover and on a low foot. Mid 17th- early 18th century.

Primary silver: Unworked silver, usually bullion or grain, newly recovered from mining operations.

Production Cost: The working costs to a mine of producing a metal and can include smelting, refining, and any by-product benefit, but generally excludes taxes, exploration, depreciation, depletion expenses and financing.

Provincial silver: any silver hallmarked outside the principal assay offices.

Put Option: An option that gives the option buyer the right but not the obligation to sell the underlying futures contract at a particular price on or before a particular date.


Quaich: a shallow, pronounced two-handled dish on low foot. Of Scottish origin, 17th-18th century.

Quotation: Price in a market; not necessarily the purchase or sale price, but an indication of market levels.


Reduction Plant: Ore treatment works where ore is milled, a crude or refined form of gold or silver extracted and dispatched to the central refinery.

Reduction: The removal of oxygen or similar anion from a chemical compound or oxide ore in order to produce metal.

Reef: A metallic mineral deposit, especially gold-bearing, commonly in a sedimentary rock.

Refinery: Facility where precious metals are refined.

Refining: The process of removing the precious metals from the alloying metals to improve the purity of the precious metals.

Regency: silver associated with the regency (1811-1820) of George, Prince of Wales (later King George IV); also term for the prevalent style of the period.

Repoussé: Working embossed decoration from the front to add detail.

Reserve: The portion of a resource that has been actually discovered, outlined and measured but not yet exploited and which at present is technically and economically feasible.

Resource: A concentration of naturally occurring solid, liquid or gaseous materials in or on the earth's crust in such form that economic extraction of a commodity is potentially feasible.

Roasting: Treatment of ore by heat and air, or oxygen enriched air, or other reagent, to eliminate volatile substances and bring about chemical change such as oxidation of sulphides.

Rococo: Exuberant naturalistic style of decoration fashionable in the early 18th century. Associated with the work of Paul de Lamerie.

Royalty: A share of the gross money receipts, or the profits due an owner of mineral rights under a contract, for the right to work them.


Salver: Flat dish with plain or decorated border on foot or feet, originally for presentation of food. Usually circular but can be octagonal, trefoil shaped etc. Salvers with a smaller diameter than 9" (23cm) are generally called Waiters. 17th-19th century.

Sampling: The selection of a small but representative part of an ore body or process material for analysis.

Sconce: Candlestick for wall mounting with reflecting back plate for magnifying light. 17th-18th century.

Service: term for articles of same pattern, date and maker; especially of flatware. Incomplete services are described as "part" or "matched".

Shaft: A vertical accessway to a mine. Shafts are used in the movement of personnel and materials, including ore and non-mineralized rock.

Shagreen: a type of dyed granular leather used to cover boxes for the presentation of small silver items, jewels etc. Different skins have been used from horse and camel to shark (popular from mid 18th century). Fish skins are generally green in colour.

Sheffield Plate: The technique for plating copper with sterling silver developed in Sheffield in circa 1740. Method relies on fusing sheets of copper and sterling silver together by binding and heating them before manufacturing the article. In the 19th century, Sheffield plate was superseded by mass-production electroplating.
Silver Plating: A technique which uses electrolysis to coat a base metal product with a thin layer of fine silver.

Silver Solder: A group of alloys containing silver, zinc and copper with at least 10 percent silver used for brazing or joining other metals. Also called "Brazing Alloys."

Silver: A lustrous, white, malleable and ductile precious metal, with remarkable electrical and thermal, light-reflecting, bacteria-killing, wear resistant, photosensitive and other qualities.

Silver-gilt: Application of a layer of gold to silver for decorative effect or as protection against corrosion, either in whole or in part (see parcel-gilt).
Slimes: The fine fraction of waste material discharged from the mill after valuable minerals have been recovered or the metallic compounds left in the bath during electrolytic refining of metals.

Smelting: The process of extracting crude metal from its ore or concentrate by fusion, before being sent to the refinery for final processing. Snuff box: Small box for keeping snuff (tobacco which has been powdered for inhaling). From mid 17th-19th century.

Snuff Mull: Cylindrical form of snuff box, generally of Scottish origin. Also describes silver mounted snuff boxes made from a hollowed ram or cow's horn. 18th century.

Snuffer scissors: Scissors designed to trim candle wicks, often accompanied by snuffer trays. 17th-19th century.

Spigot: The tap of a tea urn or similar.

Spot Price: The going price of silver or gold in the daily cash market. See "cash price."

Standard Silver: See "sterling silver."

Standard: The legally recognised purity of wrought silver after alloy with other metals. Only two standards are currently recognised in the UK: Sterling standard (925 parts pure silver in a 1000) and Britannia standard (958.3 parts in a 1000). Elsewhere, standards vary throughout the world. Some countries recognise higher standards, others lower such as 800 parts per 1000.

Sterling Silver: Silver of .925 fineness - 92.5 % silver; 7.5% copper. Also called "Standard Silver."

Sterling: A standard of silver defined by law as 925 parts pure silver in a 1000.

Sterling silver is the principal standard in the UK and USA (where articles are usually marked "Sterling")

Stirrup cup: Footless beaker for use on horseback, associated with hunting hence many naturalistically designed as fox masks. 18th- 19th century.

Stockpile: Broken ore accumulated in a heap at the mine's surface, pending treatment or shipment to mill, or a stock of metals kept by a government for emergencies.
Stope: Step-like or other excavation in an underground mine for the removal or ore.


Tailings: Material rejected from a mill after the recoverable valuable minerals have been extracted.

Tankard: A lidded drinking vessel. 15th-18th century.

Taper stick: Small single candlestick used to melt wax for sealing letters or light tobacco.

Tea Caddy: Canister for preserving and securing loose tea. 17th-19th century.

Troy Ounce or Weight: Ancient French system of weight, taking its name from the medieval trading town of Troyes, France. One troy ounce equals 31.1034 grammes.

Tumbler cup: Plain, cylindrical drinking vessel with ovoid base. 17th-18th century.


Vein: A seam or lode of metallic-bearing ore through a rock.

Vermeil: A coating of pure gold of at least 120 micro-inches, on a solid sterling silver artifact. It looks like gold, but is virtually all solid silver. French term for silver gilt.

Vinaigrette: A portable hinged box designed to hold, beneath a pierced grill, a small sponge soaked in aromatic scent as an antidote to everyday odours. 17th - 19th century.

Vizard: A mask.


Waiter: flat dish similar to salver but sometimes without foot or feet and smaller than 9" (23cm) in diameter.

Waste: Rock lacking sufficient grade and/or other characteristics' of ore to be economical.


Yield: The actual ore grade realized at the mine mill.

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