Antique Silver Plate is  DIFFERENT and  BETTER than modern silver plate

In 1840 the electrochemical deposition of silver onto base metals was invented by a company called Elkington of Birmingham, England. This technique was very suitable for use in the new factories being set up to manufacture objects to satisfy demand created by the great wealth of mid Victorian Britain. Early electroplating was on nickel and produced many fine objects, which are now becoming more and more sought after by collectors. Electroplating can usually be recognized since the process deposits pure silver rather than sterling silver (which is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper). Many pieces were struck with pseudo-hallmarks and, to avoid confusion, this was made illegal in 1896 and pieces had to be marked EPNS for 'electroplated nickel silver'. 

There was no legal requirement to mark electroplated goods so the system of hallmarking described elsewhere does not apply. So it is often quite difficult to precisely date an electroplated item. However some makers, such as Elkington & Co., actually marked their pieces with a date letter which is very helpful when deciding on their age. Most of the time electroplated pieces are dated based on their style and the way they are made, and this can lead to a fairly accurate circa date within 5 to 10 years either side.    http://www.bryandouglas.co.uk