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Sterling silver is an alloy of silver containing 92.5% by mass of silver and 7.5% by mass of other metals, usually copper. The sterling silver standard has a minimum millesimal fineness of 925.
Fine silver, for example 99.9% pure silver, is generally too soft for producing functional objects; therefore, the silver is usually alloyed with copper to give it strength while preserving the ductility and appearance of the precious metal. Other metals can replace the copper, usually with the intention of improving various properties of the basic sterling alloy such as reducing casting porosity, eliminating firescale, and increasing resistance to tarnish. These replacement metals include germanium, zinc and platinum, as well as a variety of other additives, including silicon and boron. Alloys such as argentium silver have appeared in recent decades.
Norman silver pennies changed designs every three years. This two-star design (possible origin of the word "sterling"), issued by William the Conqueror, is from 1077-1080.
The sterling alloy originated in continental Europe and was being used for commerce as early as the 12th century in the area that is now northern Germany.
In England the composition of sterling silver was subject to official assay at some date before 1158, during the reign of Henry II, but its purity was probably regulated from centuries earlier, in Saxon times. A piece of sterling silver dating from Henry II's reign was used as a standard in the Trial of the Pyx until it was deposited at the Royal Mint in 1843. It bears the royal stamp ENRI. REX ("King Henry") but this was added later, in the reign of Henry III. The first legal definition of sterling silver appeared in 1275, when a statute of Edward I specified that 12 ounces of silver for coinage should contain 11 ounces 2 1⁄4 pennyweights of silver and 17 3⁄4 pennyweights of alloy, with 20 pennyweights to the Troy ounce.
In Colonial America, sterling silver was used for currency and general goods as well. Between 1634 and 1776, some 500 silversmiths created items in the “New World” ranging from simple buckles to ornate Rococo coffee pots. Although silversmiths of this era were typically familiar with all precious metals, they primarily worked in sterling silver. The colonies lacked an assay office during this time (the first would be established in 1814), so American silversmiths adhered to the standard set by the London Goldsmiths Company: sterling silver consisted of 91.5 - 92.5% by weight silver and 8.5-7.5 wt% copper. Stamping each of their pieces with their personal maker's mark, colonial silversmiths relied upon their own status to guarantee the quality and composition of their products.
Colonial silversmiths used many of the techniques developed by those in Europe. Casting was frequently the first step in manufacturing silver pieces, as silver workers would melt down sterling silver into easily manageable ingots. Occasionally, they would create small components (e.g. teapot legs) by casting silver into iron or graphite molds, but it was rare for an entire piece to be fabricated via casting. Next, silversmiths would forge the ingots into the shapes they desired, often hammering the thinned silver against specially shaped dies to "mass produce" simple shapes like the oval end of a spoon. This process occurred at room temperature, and thus is called “cold-working”.The repeated strikes of the hammer work hardened (sterling) silver, causing it to become brittle and difficult to manipulate. To combat work-hardening, silversmiths would anneal their pieces—heat it to a dull red and then quench it in water--to relieve the stresses in the material and return it to a more ductile state. Hammering required more time than all other silver manufacturing processes, and therefore accounted for the majority of labor costs. Silversmiths would then seam parts together to create incredibly complex and artistic items, sealing the gaps with a solder of 80 wt% silver and 20 wt% bronze. Finally, they would file and polish their work to remove all seams, finishing off with engraving and a maker’s mark.
The American revolutionary Paul Revere was regarded as one of the best silversmiths from this “Golden Age of American Silver.” Following the Revolutionary War, Revere acquired and made use of a silver rolling mill from England. Not only did the rolling mill increase his rate of production—hammering and flattening silver took most of a silversmith’s time—he was able to roll and sell silver of appropriate, uniform thickness to other silversmiths. He retired a wealthy artisan, his success partly due to this strategic investment: although he is celebrated for his beautiful hollowware, Revere made his fortune primarily on low-end goods produced by the mill, such as flatware. With the onset of the first Industrial Revolution, many smiths followed suit and silversmithing as an artistic occupation eventually dwindled.
From about 1840 to 1940 in the United States and Europe, sterling silver cutlery (US: 'flatware') became de rigueur when setting a proper table. There was a marked increase in the number of silver companies that emerged during that period. The height of the silver craze was during the 50-year period from 1870 to 1920. Flatware lines during this period sometimes included up to 100 different types of pieces.
A number of factors converged to make sterling fall out of favor around the time of World War II. The cost of labor rose (sterling pieces were all still mostly handmade, with only the basics being done by machine). Only the wealthy could afford the large number of servants required for fancy dining with ten courses. And changes in aesthetics resulted in people desiring simpler dinnerware that was easier to clean.
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Looper utilizes the Hollywood style of time travel. One universe, no String Theory. This makes the logic a bit shaky, but Rian Johnson is able to create some amazing scenarios with it. Besides the time travel, Looper puts on a solid show. The story is amazing, and the film has homages to works like The Terminator and Cowboy Bebop (see the above photo). It's action-based, with a touch of comedy and horror. 9/10
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is unlikable, but doesn't alienate you from the film. Characters I thought stood out well were Older Joe (Bruce Willis), Sarah (Emily Blunt), and another that I can't mention. The only thing I thought Looper lacked was a strong villain. Most of the bad guys were underdeveloped, or flip-flopped between good and evil. 6/10
Looper is set in 2044, and presents a wondrous, but grounded future (retrofitted cars, cool hoverbikes, etc). The cinematography is wonderful, with some amazing shots thrown in here and there. I heard China got an extended cut of the film, because they wanted more of the footage shot in Shanghai to be shown. I really hope that makes it onto home media! 10/10
When watching the movie, the music provides a perfect atmosphere and is well composed. When separated from the film, Nathan Johnson's score is a little less impressive. It's good, but not something I found myself raving over. 8/10
Looper contains some great sci-fi elements, actions scenes, comedic moments, and a horrific part that is one of the scariest things I've seen in recent memory. If you're a fan of any of the above, then you will enjoy this movie in some way. 10/10
Looper will probably go down as my favorite sci-fi (or overall) movie of 2012. I can see this becoming one of the landmarks in science fiction, and applaud Rian Johnson for this masterpiece. Looper is smart, original, and most of all, fun!