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
vintage WM A Rogers Premier Stainless Oneida LTD silverware set in box
vintage WM A Rogers Premier Stainless Oneida LTD silverware set in box
$24.00
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Antique Silverware Lot King Edward Oneida Community
Antique Silverware Lot King Edward Oneida Community
$5.00
Time Remaining: 57m
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1910 AD 2 Page Silverware Flatware Roger 1847 Vintage PatternLadle Sugar Shell
1910 AD 2 Page Silverware Flatware Roger 1847 Vintage PatternLadle Sugar Shell
$19.99
Time Remaining: 58m
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1910 AD 4 PG Silverware Flatware Rogers Bros Tipped Pat Spoons Sugar Shells Kid
1910 AD 4 PG Silverware Flatware Rogers Bros Tipped Pat Spoons Sugar Shells Kid
$19.99
Time Remaining: 1h 2m
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1910 AD 6 Page Community Plate Silverware Flatware Louis XVI Tongs Ladles Spoons
1910 AD 6 Page Community Plate Silverware Flatware Louis XVI Tongs Ladles Spoons
$29.99
Time Remaining: 1h 5m
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1910 AD 6 PG Community Plate Silverware Flatware Carving Sets Flower De Luce
1910 AD 6 PG Community Plate Silverware Flatware Carving Sets Flower De Luce
$29.99
Time Remaining: 1h 6m
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WMA Rogers Oneida Teaspoon spoon Stainless steel replacement Silverware Lot of 2
WMA Rogers Oneida Teaspoon spoon Stainless steel replacement Silverware Lot of 2
$7.99
Time Remaining: 1h 7m
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EKCO Stainless Lot of 2 Soup spoon silverware floral engraved flatware Large
EKCO Stainless Lot of 2 Soup spoon silverware floral engraved flatware Large
$7.99
Time Remaining: 1h 7m
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Pfaltzgraff Tea Rose Salad Fork silverware ivory handle pink flowers flatware
Pfaltzgraff Tea Rose Salad Fork silverware ivory handle pink flowers flatware
$7.99
Time Remaining: 1h 7m
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1910 AD 6 PG Community Plate Silverware Flatware Classic Pattern Meat Fork Sugar
1910 AD 6 PG Community Plate Silverware Flatware Classic Pattern Meat Fork Sugar
$29.99
Time Remaining: 1h 7m
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1910 AD Landers Frary Clark Silverware Flatware Meat Fork Cake Fruit Knife B
1910 AD Landers Frary Clark Silverware Flatware Meat Fork Cake Fruit Knife B
$12.99
Time Remaining: 1h 8m
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RIVIERA STAINLESS MONTEREY SILVERWARE 88 PIECES TOLAL ALL IN THERE PLASTIC
RIVIERA STAINLESS MONTEREY SILVERWARE 88 PIECES TOLAL ALL IN THERE PLASTIC
$99.00
Time Remaining: 1h 8m
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1910 AD Silverware Flatware Rogers  Hamilton Fruit Knife Knives Tea Spoons
1910 AD Silverware Flatware Rogers Hamilton Fruit Knife Knives Tea Spoons
$12.99
Time Remaining: 1h 11m
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1910 AD Silverware Flatware Rogers Bros Round End Montana Butter Knife Knives
1910 AD Silverware Flatware Rogers Bros Round End Montana Butter Knife Knives
$12.99
Time Remaining: 1h 11m
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Gorham COLUMN GOLD Stainless Flatware Silverware 5 Piece Place Setting NEW
Gorham COLUMN GOLD Stainless Flatware Silverware 5 Piece Place Setting NEW
$49.98
Time Remaining: 1h 11m
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1910 AD Silverware Flatware Rogers Bros Round End Peerless Oneida
1910 AD Silverware Flatware Rogers Bros Round End Peerless Oneida
$12.99
Time Remaining: 1h 11m
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POTTERY BARN Summer BBQ Outdoor Utensils 12pc Set FLATWARE GREEN Silverware NEW
POTTERY BARN Summer BBQ Outdoor Utensils 12pc Set FLATWARE GREEN Silverware NEW
$15.00
Time Remaining: 1h 24m
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Pfaltzgraff Stainless PFF21 11 Piece Silverware Lot
Pfaltzgraff Stainless PFF21 11 Piece Silverware Lot
$16.99
Time Remaining: 1h 25m
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Reed  Barton GOLDEN SEAFARE Salad Fork Gold Accent Stainless 18 8 Silverware
Reed Barton GOLDEN SEAFARE Salad Fork Gold Accent Stainless 18 8 Silverware
$11.89
Time Remaining: 1h 26m
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Reed  Barton GOLDEN SEAFARE Dinner Fork Gold Accent Stainless 18 8 Silverware
Reed Barton GOLDEN SEAFARE Dinner Fork Gold Accent Stainless 18 8 Silverware
$14.89
Time Remaining: 1h 26m
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Reed  Barton GOLDEN SEAFARE Dinner Knife Gold Accent Stainless 18 8 Silverware
Reed Barton GOLDEN SEAFARE Dinner Knife Gold Accent Stainless 18 8 Silverware
$9.89
Time Remaining: 1h 26m
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International Wedgwood Sterling Silver Flatware Butter Table Knife Silverware
International Wedgwood Sterling Silver Flatware Butter Table Knife Silverware
$24.99
Time Remaining: 1h 39m
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International Wedgwood Sterling Silver Flatware Relish Berry Fork Silverware
International Wedgwood Sterling Silver Flatware Relish Berry Fork Silverware
$24.99
Time Remaining: 1h 39m
Buy It Now for only: $24.99
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NEW Oneida Wordsworth Pattern 45 Pc Flatware Service for 8 People Silverware Set
NEW Oneida Wordsworth Pattern 45 Pc Flatware Service for 8 People Silverware Set
$94.95
Time Remaining: 1h 42m
Buy It Now for only: $94.95
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STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE 1982 ONEIDA 3 PC SET of AMER GREETINGS SILVERWARE 0423
STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE 1982 ONEIDA 3 PC SET of AMER GREETINGS SILVERWARE 0423
$49.99
Time Remaining: 1h 48m
Buy It Now for only: $64.99
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Vintage Oneida Prestige Bordeaux 1945 Silverplate Flatware Silverware Silver
Vintage Oneida Prestige Bordeaux 1945 Silverplate Flatware Silverware Silver
$3.50
Time Remaining: 1h 51m
Buy It Now for only: $3.50
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Silverware Flatware
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