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From its appearance and its development by 19th-century German metalworkers in imitation of the Chinese alloy known as paktong.


German silver (usually uncountable, plural German silvers)

  1. Cupronickel, nickel silver; specifically the variety developed by 19th-century German metalworkers, an alloy of copper, nickel and zinc.
    • 1841, John Yonge Akerman (editor), The Numismatic Chronicle, Volume IV: April 1841—January 1842, page 175,
      Mr. Briggs recommended plated medals, on German silver, as the best.
    • 1907 [D. McKay], Paul N. Hasluck, Metalworking: Old-fashioned Tools, Materials, and Processes for the Handyman, 2011, Skyhorse Publishing, page 8,
      German silver consists essentially of copper, zinc, and nickel. Various metals have been introduced under fanciful names, such as Brazilian and Nevada silver, Argentan, Potosi silver, silveroid, silvene, arguzoid, etc., but these consist of German silver with perhaps slight additions, as, for instance, of iron, manganese, lead, tin, silver, cobalt, and magnesium. German silver is noted for its whiteness, lustre, brilliance, tenacity, and toughness, and its power of resisting chemical influences.
    • 1922, Metal Industry, Volume 21, page 129,
      Of these, unquestionably, the most popular are the German silvers, i.e., the alloys of nickel, copper, and zinc.
    • 1998, The Encyclopedia Americana: International Edition, Volume 1, page 582,
      German silvers are also used in ornamental hardware, costume jewelry, valves, rivets, springs, and plumbing fixtures. A typical German silver contains about 66% copper, 17% nickel, and 17% zinc.
    • 1999, Daniel C. Swan, Peyote Religious Art: Symbols of Faith and Belief, University Press of Mississippi, page 63,
      Between 1865 and 1880, the supply of German silver increased greatly, leading to an abundance of items manufactured from it and a decline in its value as a rare commodity. Southern Plains metalsmiths produced horse gear, pectorals and crosses, earrings, finger rings, other jewelry, and decorative objects with German silver.