Alpacca - (Metal) Glossary of Antique Terms

Alpacca - (Metal) The Berndorf Metalware Factory established in 1843, was the first industrial enterprise in Austria to introduce galvanic silver-plating and it established "Alpaca Silver" as the quality brand for years to come. Berndorf's development of "Alpacca" named, after the alpaca in Peru, is the registered trade name of an alloy consisting of copper, nickel and zinc the progress of development in the so-called 'galvanization' of metals. "Alpacca" cutlery - also called the "New Silver" - was much lighter in weight than solid silver cutlery. Moreover, galvanic silver-plating permitted lower production costs. The price for Alpaca amounted to only two thirds of the price of real silver. Products made of "Alpacca" became the first "best-seller" of the Berndorf Metalware Factory. Nickel formed a major part of the "Alpacca" alloy but its natural availability was limited. By purchasing a nickel works in in Hungary in 1853 and by acquiring interests in a nickel mine in Eastern Slovakia, they secured the factory's requirements for this raw material. The Berndorf Metalware Factory participated with great success at international exhibitions. The climax was the presentation of Berndorf products - finished products and raw materials - at the World Exhibitions in 1855 in Paris and in 1873 in Vienna. At the Viennese exhibition, the extraordinary nature of Berndorf products even made it necessary to exclude them from the awards-competition. Otherwise, the other candidates would not have stood a chance of an exhibition-medallion. The fact that Berndorf was unbeatable was immediately virtually "on record".


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