I found a Halco Nickel Silver Cream Pitcher for .99 at Goodwill. The pictures above are from eBay, but mine looks just like this one. The one on eBay was just listed with the opening bid starting at 9.99. I’ll keep an eye on it and see what it actually brings. My pitcher was also covered in patina, but I polished it. I know you are not supposed to remove the patina, but my pitcher is for my own use and it looked dull and dirty. After polishing it, though, it is shiny, beautiful, clean, and ready to fill with fresh Farmer Jimmy cream.
Nickel silver is named only for its appearance, which very much resembles sterling silver, the alloy is often used as a cheaper version of the precious metal in the manufacture of cutlery, decorative items and musical instruments.
Nickel silver contains between 7 and 20% nickel, and between 14 and 46% zinc, such alloys can be categorized as a type of brass.
Nickel silver was originally produced during the early Qing dynasty in China (c. 1700), and was smuggled into various parts in the East Indies. Despite a ban on exports of baitong (or paktong) as it is known in Chinese, the metal found its way to Europe by the early 18th century. The piece I found was made in Japan.
German metallurgists were so impressed by the quality of the Chinese alloy that they began working on ways to recreate the metal. By the late 18th century, types of nickel silver were also being produced in Germany, resulting in the alloy also being referred to as “German silver”.
Collectors might consider the pitcher I found as ordinary and simple, but I consider it a splendid little piece of history and artistry.