Paktong (an Ni-Cu-Zn alloy) in Chinese is "bai tong" literally meaning "white copper". Long before nickel was isolated in the West, the Chinese has produced an alloy of nickel and copper (often contains zinc as well) which has the lustrous sheen and colour tone of silver.
Nickel was not identified in the West until the second half of the eighteenth century.
It is significantly harder than silver and quite resistent to tarnish upon use. It was widely used since early 18th C as a substitute of real silver to produce a wide range of household items such as candlesticks, inkstands, small desk objects. It was also imported into Europe in small quantities during the eighteenth century and used by European craftsmen to make domestic objects in imitation of silverware.
See also Tutanego