Silverware Flatware

Different Types of Silverware Explained


Historically, silverware referred only to those household items that were manufactured from silver. This could include anything from candlesticks, tea services, flatware, and cutlery. Today, silverware is a generic term that is used to describe all types of flatware and cutlery, regardless of its composition.

Silverware, as the name implies, was historically made from (obviously) silver. However, being a very soft and malleable metal, it was necessary to blend the silver with another metal to enhance its strength. This gave rise to the alloy called Sterling Silver, which has long been recognized as the 'silver' standard. Sterling Silver contains (by law) 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% of other metals - typically copper. More recently, other metals (such as zinc and platinum) have been used to enhance specific properties, such as resistance to tarnish, but none have been able to replace copper as the standard. So, if you're fortunate enough to have inherited, purchased (or possibly even collect) sterling silver, it contains at least 92.5% pure silver (and as the price of silver goes up, so does the value of your flatware).

Silverplate cutlery is made from a base metal (usually copper, nickel, or zinc) which is coated with a layer of silver. Originally, silver and copper were melted and fused together into a composite, the two layers behaving as one. Around 1770 the 'double sandwich' or Sheffield process was developed, where a copper core is 'sandwiched' between two layers of silver, then heated and formed. This continued until about 1840 when it was replaced by the highly efficient electroplating process. Electroplating deposits a very thin layer (typically 35 microns) of silver onto another conductive metal, as an electrical current passes through them. One benefit of electroplating is that the surface is made of pure silver, not sterling silver. Unfortunately, the silver layer itself is quite thin, so the majority of the part consists of the cheaper core metal.

All other types of flatware and cutlery, typically referred to as 'silverware' contain no silver at all. Today's most common varieties are made of stainless steel, typically the 18/8 or 18/10 alloys. The numbers refer to the composition of the steel alloy. The base metal is iron, and it is blended with 18% chromium and 8% (or 10%) nickel. Higher quality stainless steel flatware will be heavier than 'cheaper' versions.
Other materials from which cutlery has been made include gold (solid and plated), brass, and pewter, all of which obviously contain no silver.

As you can see, just because the flatware or cutlery you purchased is called silverware, that doesn't guarantee it will be made of silver. Depending on the type of silverware you purchase, it may contain sterling silver, silver and copper, or possibly no silver at all.

How its Made - Flatware
Mid Century Eldan Flatware Silverware Blackwood Handle Japan Teaspoon Lot of 6
Mid Century Eldan Flatware Silverware Blackwood Handle Japan Teaspoon Lot of 6
$9.99
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Oneida Humpty Dumpty Youth Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware 425 long
Oneida Humpty Dumpty Youth Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware 425 long
$3.00
Time Remaining: 33m
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Oneida Humpty Dumpty Youth Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware 425 long
Oneida Humpty Dumpty Youth Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware 425 long
$3.00
Time Remaining: 38m
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11 Piece Lot Antique Collectibles Sugar Spoons Silverware ONEIDA VIZCAYA GEHA
11 Piece Lot Antique Collectibles Sugar Spoons Silverware ONEIDA VIZCAYA GEHA
$20.00
Time Remaining: 48m
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VTG Sterling Silver Meat Fork Geo Y Brodnax Silverware
VTG Sterling Silver Meat Fork Geo Y Brodnax Silverware
$31.99
Time Remaining: 50m
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Mid Century Eldan Flatware Silverware Blackwood Handle Japan Tablespoon Lot 3
Mid Century Eldan Flatware Silverware Blackwood Handle Japan Tablespoon Lot 3
$9.99
Time Remaining: 52m
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17 Pieces Vintage Mid Century SCC Cane Flatware Silverware Retro Bamboo
17 Pieces Vintage Mid Century SCC Cane Flatware Silverware Retro Bamboo
$19.99
Time Remaining: 53m
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Oneida Chandler GLOSSY Pierced Serving Spoon 18 10 Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Chandler GLOSSY Pierced Serving Spoon 18 10 Stainless Flatware Silverware
$10.40
Time Remaining: 1h 4m
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Vtg12 Wm Rodgers MFG Co IS teaspoons Spoons Allure Wheat Pattern Silverware
Vtg12 Wm Rodgers MFG Co IS teaspoons Spoons Allure Wheat Pattern Silverware
$19.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 1h 4m
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Cambridge Black Silverware Flatware Set Forks Spoons Teaspoons 80 Pcs For 16 NEW
Cambridge Black Silverware Flatware Set Forks Spoons Teaspoons 80 Pcs For 16 NEW
$179.00
Time Remaining: 1h 6m
Buy It Now for only: $179.00
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Oneida Chandler BRUSHED Dinner Fork 18 10 Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Chandler BRUSHED Dinner Fork 18 10 Stainless Flatware Silverware
$4.31
Time Remaining: 1h 6m
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Oneida Twin Star Modern Solid Knives Knife Flatware Silverware Betty Crocker
Oneida Twin Star Modern Solid Knives Knife Flatware Silverware Betty Crocker
$24.99
Time Remaining: 1h 9m
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Oneida Frostfire Dinner Knife HH Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Frostfire Dinner Knife HH Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
$6.05
Time Remaining: 1h 11m
Buy It Now for only: $6.05
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International Cortez Aztec Sugar Spoon LYON Stainless Flatware Silverware
International Cortez Aztec Sugar Spoon LYON Stainless Flatware Silverware
$12.99
Time Remaining: 1h 12m
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Oneida Milady Cocktail Fork Silverplate 1940 Community Flatware Silverware
Oneida Milady Cocktail Fork Silverplate 1940 Community Flatware Silverware
$9.99
Time Remaining: 1h 15m
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Oneida Milady Sugar Spoon Silverplate 1940 Community Flatware Silverware
Oneida Milady Sugar Spoon Silverplate 1940 Community Flatware Silverware
$5.99
Time Remaining: 1h 15m
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Gorham Column Gold 2 Serving Spoons Stainless Flatware Silverware
Gorham Column Gold 2 Serving Spoons Stainless Flatware Silverware
$19.99
Time Remaining: 1h 15m
Buy It Now for only: $19.99
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Oneida Michelangelo Oval Soup Place Spoon Heirloom Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Michelangelo Oval Soup Place Spoon Heirloom Stainless Flatware Silverware
$9.99
Time Remaining: 1h 15m
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ANTIQUE 68 PC SILVERPLATE SILVERWARE SET by MARTIN 90 MONOGRAMMED ES
ANTIQUE 68 PC SILVERPLATE SILVERWARE SET by MARTIN 90 MONOGRAMMED ES
$150.00
Time Remaining: 1h 24m
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Vintage Lot Silverware Branford Silverplate Bouquet Vendome Jewelry Making
Vintage Lot Silverware Branford Silverplate Bouquet Vendome Jewelry Making
$14.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 1h 31m
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Three Chid Spoons Oneida Chateau Silverware Flatware
Three Chid Spoons Oneida Chateau Silverware Flatware
$12.99
Time Remaining: 1h 33m
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Four Chid Forks Oneida Chateau Silverware Flatware
Four Chid Forks Oneida Chateau Silverware Flatware
$15.99
Time Remaining: 1h 34m
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Godinger Flatware Silverware 2 Dinner Knives Dinning Gold Plate Colectibles
Godinger Flatware Silverware 2 Dinner Knives Dinning Gold Plate Colectibles
$2.99
Time Remaining: 1h 39m
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Silverware Stainless Steel 78 Piece Kitchen Flatware Set 12 Settings Forks Knife
Silverware Stainless Steel 78 Piece Kitchen Flatware Set 12 Settings Forks Knife
$89.98
Time Remaining: 1h 46m
Buy It Now for only: $89.98
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Antique 4 Louis XVI Teaspoons Silverplate Silverware c1911 103 Years Old L7
Antique 4 Louis XVI Teaspoons Silverplate Silverware c1911 103 Years Old L7
$27.00
Time Remaining: 1h 52m
Buy It Now for only: $65.00
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Antique 4 Louis XVI Teaspoons Silverplate Silverware c1911 103 Years Old L8
Antique 4 Louis XVI Teaspoons Silverplate Silverware c1911 103 Years Old L8
$27.00
Time Remaining: 1h 52m
Buy It Now for only: $65.00
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Silverware Flatware
  • Flatware Silverware
  • Silver Silverware
  • Sterling Silver Silverware
  • Antique Silverware
  • Silver Plated Silverware
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