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
Fitzhugh Mahogany Flatware Silverware Chest by Reed and Barton 1600M
Fitzhugh Mahogany Flatware Silverware Chest by Reed and Barton 1600M
$299.00
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Gorham stainless silverware floral knives and forks replacements
Gorham stainless silverware floral knives and forks replacements
$6.00
Time Remaining: 37m
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Towle Montclair Pierced Serving Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
Towle Montclair Pierced Serving Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
$5.06
Time Remaining: 38m
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Towle Montclair Cold Meat Serving Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware
Towle Montclair Cold Meat Serving Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware
$5.06
Time Remaining: 39m
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Gorham Fabrique Cold Meat Serving Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware Textured
Gorham Fabrique Cold Meat Serving Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware Textured
$5.06
Time Remaining: 42m
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Yamazaki Belgrove Salad Fork New Stainless Flatware Silverware
Yamazaki Belgrove Salad Fork New Stainless Flatware Silverware
$6.99
Time Remaining: 44m
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Oneida Huntington Cold Meat Serving Fork Rogers Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Huntington Cold Meat Serving Fork Rogers Stainless Flatware Silverware
$4.21
Time Remaining: 47m
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Oneida Celebrity Solid Serving Spoon SSS Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Celebrity Solid Serving Spoon SSS Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware
$5.06
Time Remaining: 54m
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1847 rogers bros silverware 2 spoons 1 fork
1847 rogers bros silverware 2 spoons 1 fork
$3.49
Time Remaining: 54m
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Oneida Sentimental Rose Dinner Knife HH Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Sentimental Rose Dinner Knife HH Stainless Flatware Silverware
$4.21
Time Remaining: 56m
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JA Henckels China 18 10 Stainless Silverware MANOR Dinner Fork 8
JA Henckels China 18 10 Stainless Silverware MANOR Dinner Fork 8
$6.95
Time Remaining: 56m
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Wallace Circe Solid Serving Spoon Tablespoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
Wallace Circe Solid Serving Spoon Tablespoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
$4.21
Time Remaining: 57m
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Gourmet Settings Continental Silverware 20 Pieces 4 Settings Symphony
Gourmet Settings Continental Silverware 20 Pieces 4 Settings Symphony
$45.99
Time Remaining: 59m
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SRI Stanley Roberts Astro Teaspoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
SRI Stanley Roberts Astro Teaspoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
$4.21
Time Remaining: 1h 1m
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JA Henckels China 18 10 Stainless Silverware MANOR Dinner Knife
JA Henckels China 18 10 Stainless Silverware MANOR Dinner Knife
$6.95
Time Remaining: 1h 1m
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early 1900s vintage solingen silverware cutlery set
early 1900s vintage solingen silverware cutlery set
$200.00
Time Remaining: 1h 1m
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Oneida Bourbon Hapsburg Teaspoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Bourbon Hapsburg Teaspoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
$4.21
Time Remaining: 1h 6m
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Oneida Driftwood Salad Fork Dessert Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Driftwood Salad Fork Dessert Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
$4.21
Time Remaining: 1h 7m
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Oneida Kenwood Master Butter Knife HH Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Kenwood Master Butter Knife HH Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
$4.21
Time Remaining: 1h 8m
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Vintage Asia 29pc Flatware Silverware Sheraton Jewel Siam Brass
Vintage Asia 29pc Flatware Silverware Sheraton Jewel Siam Brass
$49.99
Time Remaining: 1h 9m
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NEW IN BOX Southern Living at Home Astoria Flatware Silverware Caddy Retired
NEW IN BOX Southern Living at Home Astoria Flatware Silverware Caddy Retired
$64.99
Time Remaining: 1h 9m
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Mikasa Regency Oval Soup Spoon Place NEW Stainless Flatware Silverware
Mikasa Regency Oval Soup Spoon Place NEW Stainless Flatware Silverware
$4.21
Time Remaining: 1h 11m
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National Silver Co King Edward 121 Pc Silver Plate Flatware Silverware 1950s
National Silver Co King Edward 121 Pc Silver Plate Flatware Silverware 1950s
$269.75
Time Remaining: 1h 20m
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Vintage URAI Thailand Brass silverware 29 pieces Thia Dancer
Vintage URAI Thailand Brass silverware 29 pieces Thia Dancer
$45.00
Time Remaining: 1h 23m
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Pfaltzgraff Edgebrook silverware 18 0 Salad fork set of 4 NEWStainless Steel
Pfaltzgraff Edgebrook silverware 18 0 Salad fork set of 4 NEWStainless Steel
$8.99
Time Remaining: 1h 25m
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Pfaltzgraff Edgebrook silverware 18 0 Dinner spoon set of 3Stainless Steel
Pfaltzgraff Edgebrook silverware 18 0 Dinner spoon set of 3Stainless Steel
$8.99
Time Remaining: 1h 25m
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Silverware Flatware
  • Flatware Silverware
  • Silver Silverware
  • Sterling Silver Silverware
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  • Silver Plated Silverware
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