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German-silver.  A copper alloy of silver-white color because of the presence of nickel and zinc, now called nickel-silver. There is no silver in German-silver or nickel-silver. The most common formula for German-silver is 55 copper, 25 zinc, 20 nickel; the best is 46 copper, 34 zinc, 20 nickel. But the range of alloys described as German-silver is broad: 50 to 62 copper, 20 to 30 zinc, 15 to 30 nickel. In Western countries the name was dropped during World War I (for anti-German sentiment) in preference to nickel-silver.

German-silver is ideal for striking and makes a hard alloy, particular for badges, charms, keytags and items to be worn. Despite its color it is not a white metal (because of its hardness). See composition (2).


excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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