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I've got a spoon (probably a boulion spoon) with the following text in capitals:

wear-wite rustless
nickel silver Sheffield
Made in England

What does 'wear-wite' mean?

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3 Answers 3

I think "Wear-Wite" is a previous brand of cutlery made by the manufacturers, Viners. The term "wear-wite" only appears in reference to cutlery made by Viners. It doesn't even turn up as a material used by other manufacturers so I don't think it has a wider meaning.

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I think that it means wears 'white'... i.e. it is an alloy of silver and therefore as the product wears down it will continue to be the same colour throughout and you will not get the flaking. I have an old bent and worn tablespoon that has the words "STAINLESS NICKEL SILVER, MADE IN ENGLAND, WEARS WHITE THROUGHOUT" moulded into the back of the handle. Therefore, I would suggest that the word 'WITE' is an older spelling of 'white'.

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No, I think "wite" is a marketer's spelling of "white". –  GEdgar Jul 6 '12 at 13:47

I looked up the meaning of "wite", and it gives several, but I think the one you're specifically looking for is :

(obsolete or poetic) To go, go away, depart, perish, vanish

Now I looked up Sheffield silverware, and it turns out that old silverware usually flaked off because electro-plating wasn't known in those days, that is, in the past. Before electroplating was invented, the way they put silver on the cutlery was, they copper as the base metal, then the silver was put on via heating and pressing. Thus, when the silverware grew old, the silver just flaked off.

What "wear-wite" means, is that the silverware is the type that does not have the silver flaking off, but the type that had the silver "wear away(wite)"; "wite" I think in this case means to "vanish, go away", and thus, the silverware didn't flake, but "wear away", and vanished gradually.

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2  
You may be right, but that word is so obscure that without evidence I would doubt it. Also, it's not clear to me that "wearing away" is something you would want to advertise to your customers, even if it would be preferable to flaking off. I think it's just a Commercial spelling of "white" - "this stays white even as it wears". –  Colin Fine Aug 12 '11 at 12:01

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