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"Sterling" alone means solid sterling silver; if other words accompany it, beware.
Some American silversmiths mimicked British hallmarks to lend their wares prestige -- rather than to convey specific information.
Silver plate has its own codes in the United States and abroad.
The maker or company name is usually stamped on the back of the piece along with an indication that it's plated: in America, for instance, A1, AA, EP, sterling inlaid, or silver soldered.
With silver marks, it's a tiny world, so it's best to come prepared. Electroplated nickel silver, or EPNS, is an alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc that's covered with a layer of pure silver in an electrochemical process.
Nickel's resemblance to silver helps disguise any worn spots in the plating. (top), located in Birmingham, was Britain's biggest plate manufacturer and the world's first producer of electroplate.