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
58 PCS Vintage Silverware Springtime by 1847 Rogers Brosw Display Chest
58 PCS Vintage Silverware Springtime by 1847 Rogers Brosw Display Chest
$45.95
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Silver Plated Silverplated Spoon Necklace Silverware Flatware Handcrafted
Silver Plated Silverplated Spoon Necklace Silverware Flatware Handcrafted
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Silver Plated Silverplated Spoon Necklace Silverware Flatware Handmade
Silver Plated Silverplated Spoon Necklace Silverware Flatware Handmade
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Vintage 24K Gold Plate Silverware Flatware FLORENTINE 14 PC
Vintage 24K Gold Plate Silverware Flatware FLORENTINE 14 PC
$19.95
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93 Pieces Of Vintage Nobility Silverware Caprice Pattern 1937 Mahogony Box
93 Pieces Of Vintage Nobility Silverware Caprice Pattern 1937 Mahogony Box
$125.00 (1 Bid)
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1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Beauty Maytime Pattern Design
1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Beauty Maytime Pattern Design
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1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Bridal Virginia Lady Fiancee
1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Bridal Virginia Lady Fiancee
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1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Chapel Bells Chased Romantique
1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Chapel Bells Chased Romantique
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1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Chatelaine Talisman Rose Gaycourt
1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Chatelaine Talisman Rose Gaycourt
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International Silver Company yorkshire bead 77 pc Goldplated Flatware silverware
International Silver Company yorkshire bead 77 pc Goldplated Flatware silverware
$65.00
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1938 AD Flatware Silverware Plaza Design Court Pattern
1938 AD Flatware Silverware Plaza Design Court Pattern
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1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Mastercraft Della Robbia
1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Mastercraft Della Robbia
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1938 AD Rogers Silverware Flatware New Concord Warwick Silver
1938 AD Rogers Silverware Flatware New Concord Warwick Silver
$12.99
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Pfaltzgraff Satin Danford Silverware Set
Pfaltzgraff Satin Danford Silverware Set
$100.00
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Oneida Sumatra NEW Sugar Spoon Northland Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Sumatra NEW Sugar Spoon Northland Stainless Flatware Silverware
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Vintage Silverware Flatware Jelly Servers Srawberry Handles
Vintage Silverware Flatware Jelly Servers Srawberry Handles
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stainless flatware silverware assorted lot of 40 for use jewelry
stainless flatware silverware assorted lot of 40 for use jewelry
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stainless silverware flatware assorted lot of 44 for use crafts jewelry
stainless silverware flatware assorted lot of 44 for use crafts jewelry
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Oneida Silver Shell  1046SBLFsilverware Bouillon spoon 499 each
Oneida Silver Shell 1046SBLFsilverware Bouillon spoon 499 each
$4.99
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WINCO SILVERWARE FLATWARE CYLINDER NYLON WHITE
WINCO SILVERWARE FLATWARE CYLINDER NYLON WHITE
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ANTIQUE SILVERWARE 2 KNIVES2FORKSAMERICAN CUTLERY
ANTIQUE SILVERWARE 2 KNIVES2FORKSAMERICAN CUTLERY
$12.50 (2 Bids)
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Oneida Community Morning Star place setting Flatware Silverware 4
Oneida Community Morning Star place setting Flatware Silverware 4
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WMF Cromargan Japan Stainless Silverware SPOLETO Cocktail Seafood Fork
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Wallace Antique Baroque Oval Soup Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
Wallace Antique Baroque Oval Soup Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
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stainless steel flatware silverware assorted lot of 42 for use craft jewelry
stainless steel flatware silverware assorted lot of 42 for use craft jewelry
$10.50 (1 Bid)
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2 Large R Carlton Serving spoons silver plate Ritz  England silverware RARE
2 Large R Carlton Serving spoons silver plate Ritz England silverware RARE
$14.99
Time Remaining: 4h 47m
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Silverware Flatware
  • Flatware Silverware
  • Silver Silverware
  • Sterling Silver Silverware
  • Antique Silverware
  • Silver Plated Silverware
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