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 20 Piece Danish Modern Mid Century Look Flatware Silverware Set
Vintage 20 Piece Danish Modern Mid Century Look Flatware Silverware Set
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1936 AD International Sterling Silver Silverware Flatware Pine Tree Minuet 1810
1936 AD International Sterling Silver Silverware Flatware Pine Tree Minuet 1810
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Reed  Barton Seabury Salad Fork Select Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
Reed Barton Seabury Salad Fork Select Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
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Vintage Doll House Miniature Plastic Silverware Flatware RED
Vintage Doll House Miniature Plastic Silverware Flatware RED
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Vintage Doll House Miniature Plastic Silverware Flatware pink clear
Vintage Doll House Miniature Plastic Silverware Flatware pink clear
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Vtg Doll House Miniature Plastic Silverware Flatware pink marble
Vtg Doll House Miniature Plastic Silverware Flatware pink marble
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Bremer Silberschmied Ostfriesen Salad Fork Dessert Stainless Germany Silverware
Bremer Silberschmied Ostfriesen Salad Fork Dessert Stainless Germany Silverware
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Hostess 5 Pc SET  NORTH STAR Betty Crocker SILVERWARE +4 Spoons +1 Knife
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Vintage COMMUNITY MORNING STAR 1948 SILVERWARE 50 PIECES
Vintage COMMUNITY MORNING STAR 1948 SILVERWARE 50 PIECES
$75.00
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LOT OF 2 COMMUNITY BALLAD 1953  COUNTRY LANE  SILVERWARE FORKS 7 1 2 INCHES
LOT OF 2 COMMUNITY BALLAD 1953 COUNTRY LANE SILVERWARE FORKS 7 1 2 INCHES
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Oneida Achievement Salad Fork Northland Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
Oneida Achievement Salad Fork Northland Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
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Oneida Achievement Oval Soup Spoon Northland Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
Oneida Achievement Oval Soup Spoon Northland Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
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Reed  Barton Seabury Dinner Fork Select Stainless Flatware Silverware
Reed Barton Seabury Dinner Fork Select Stainless Flatware Silverware
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NEW 20 PC STAINLESS STEEL FLATWARE SILVERWARE DEER MOOSE ELK BEAR PINECONE
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LOT OF 2 COMMUNITY BALLAD 1953  COUNTRY LANE  SILVERWARE FORKS 6 7 8 INCHES
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Reed  Barton Seabury Teaspoon Select Stainless Flatware Silverware
Reed Barton Seabury Teaspoon Select Stainless Flatware Silverware
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ZWILLING JA HENCKELS 1810 SERVING FORK  SPOON EARL FLATWARE SILVERWARE
ZWILLING JA HENCKELS 1810 SERVING FORK SPOON EARL FLATWARE SILVERWARE
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DIRIGOLD DIRILYTE FLATWARE SILVERWARE SERVICE 6 ORIG STORAGE BOX +
DIRIGOLD DIRILYTE FLATWARE SILVERWARE SERVICE 6 ORIG STORAGE BOX +
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Longaberger Flatware Silverware Set Dinner Fork Knife Teaspoon Table Spoon
Longaberger Flatware Silverware Set Dinner Fork Knife Teaspoon Table Spoon
$54.00
Time Remaining: 1h 46m
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Vintage alpaca silverware silverplated flatware set box 84 pieces
Vintage alpaca silverware silverplated flatware set box 84 pieces
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42 Pieces Rogers ROSE PETALS FIRST LADY Serving Stainless Flatware Silverware
42 Pieces Rogers ROSE PETALS FIRST LADY Serving Stainless Flatware Silverware
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Oneida Lasting Rose Salad Fork Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware Glossy
Oneida Lasting Rose Salad Fork Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware Glossy
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WM Rogers  Sons Silverware complete 63 piece set enchanted rose
WM Rogers Sons Silverware complete 63 piece set enchanted rose
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Time Remaining: 2h 6m
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Oneida Lasting Rose Oval Soup Spoon Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware Glossy
Oneida Lasting Rose Oval Soup Spoon Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware Glossy
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Snap On Tools Flatware 4 Pcs Fork Knife  Spoon Silverware Set
Snap On Tools Flatware 4 Pcs Fork Knife Spoon Silverware Set
$30.00
Time Remaining: 2h 15m
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silverware 100 pcs for 12 Lady Hamilton by Oneida Community 1932 and chest VG+
silverware 100 pcs for 12 Lady Hamilton by Oneida Community 1932 and chest VG+
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Silverware Flatware
  • Flatware Silverware
  • Silver Silverware
  • Sterling Silver Silverware
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