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The first period molds were used was the17thC, especially with flatware in England.
Electroplating was patented in 1841 by the Elikington Co.
Much more skilled craftsmen were required to make teasets and coffee set without molds.
Use of original molds for teasets/coffee sets was most probably started in mid 19thC both in USA and England.
A master craftsman was required to make the original pattern designs from which a base metal mold was made. Once the mold was made for a pattern, the required skill was less, in fact, it was much less as one would expect.
The skill required to make the original design for a pattern was not as great as the required work to make pieces in the hand made - one of-a-kind Georgian-Mid Victorian tea/coffee sets. The work and skill required to make a commissioned piece without a mold was much greater as the craftsman had to work quickly while the silver is still hot.
Gorham Martele silver of the late 19thC was made without molds. That is one reason it is considered very collectible.
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