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
Wm Rogers Tudor Plate Oneida Silverware in original Wood box Queen Bees Pattern
Wm Rogers Tudor Plate Oneida Silverware in original Wood box Queen Bees Pattern
$44.99
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VINTAGE EASTERN AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE KNIFE STAINLESS
VINTAGE EASTERN AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE KNIFE STAINLESS
$7.95
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VINTAGE CONTINENTAL AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE FORK  KNIFE STAINLESS ONEIDA
VINTAGE CONTINENTAL AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE FORK KNIFE STAINLESS ONEIDA
$14.95
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1951 Magnolia Inspiration Queen Rose Silverware by Wm Rogers Mfg Co 50p
1951 Magnolia Inspiration Queen Rose Silverware by Wm Rogers Mfg Co 50p
$79.99
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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
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VINTAGE NATIONAL SILVER CO SILVERPLATE 21 PIECE SILVERWARE DOUBLE TESTED
VINTAGE NATIONAL SILVER CO SILVERPLATE 21 PIECE SILVERWARE DOUBLE TESTED
$29.95
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57 Viceroy Plate USA flatware silverware forks spoons knives Vintage
57 Viceroy Plate USA flatware silverware forks spoons knives Vintage
$18.99
Time Remaining: 47m
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30 Pieces Cuisinart Stainless Steel Flatware Silverware Dining Set
30 Pieces Cuisinart Stainless Steel Flatware Silverware Dining Set
$19.99
Time Remaining: 51m
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Pfaltzgraff Meridian Oval Soup Place Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
Pfaltzgraff Meridian Oval Soup Place Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
$3.95
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VINTAGE ASA AFRICAN SAFARI AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE KNIFE
VINTAGE ASA AFRICAN SAFARI AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE KNIFE
$7.95
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Huge lot of WM Rogers Bros  Rogers  Sons Silverware AA 1847 1881 Proposal
Huge lot of WM Rogers Bros Rogers Sons Silverware AA 1847 1881 Proposal
$14.75
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Vtg Retro Nu Dell Plastics Green Swirl Flatware Silverware Kitchen Utensil Tray
Vtg Retro Nu Dell Plastics Green Swirl Flatware Silverware Kitchen Utensil Tray
$3.99
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VINTAGE ASA AFRICAN SAFARI AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE FORK BRANDWARE
VINTAGE ASA AFRICAN SAFARI AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE FORK BRANDWARE
$7.95
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VINTAGE ASA AFRICAN SAFARI AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE KNIFE BRANDWARE
VINTAGE ASA AFRICAN SAFARI AIRLINES FLATWARE SILVERWARE KNIFE BRANDWARE
$7.95
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Krusius Gazelle Dinner Knife 2 Knives Germany Stainless Flatware Silverware
Krusius Gazelle Dinner Knife 2 Knives Germany Stainless Flatware Silverware
$13.99
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Two Unique Vintage Travel Silverware Set
Two Unique Vintage Travel Silverware Set
$9.99
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12 forks and 1 spoon vintage flatware silverware craft projects
12 forks and 1 spoon vintage flatware silverware craft projects
$14.95
Time Remaining: 1h 9m
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Pfaltzgraff Wheels Frost Flatware 17 Replacement Pieces Silverware
Pfaltzgraff Wheels Frost Flatware 17 Replacement Pieces Silverware
$41.65
Time Remaining: 1h 9m
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Stainless Flatware Set Bamboo Style Table Cloth Silverware Dinner Plate Forks
Stainless Flatware Set Bamboo Style Table Cloth Silverware Dinner Plate Forks
$54.48
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Collection 7 Different Baby Child Toddler Spoon Forks Silverware Bozo The Clown
Collection 7 Different Baby Child Toddler Spoon Forks Silverware Bozo The Clown
$4.99 (1 Bid)
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Vintage Rubbermaid Drawer Flatware Tray Silverware Organizer
Vintage Rubbermaid Drawer Flatware Tray Silverware Organizer
$11.99
Time Remaining: 1h 14m
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Oneida Juilliard Dinner Fork Heirloom Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Juilliard Dinner Fork Heirloom Stainless Flatware Silverware
$8.95
Time Remaining: 1h 18m
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SET OF 3 EKCO ETERNA MONTALO STAINLESS SILVERWARE FLATWARE SERVING PIECES NIP 1
SET OF 3 EKCO ETERNA MONTALO STAINLESS SILVERWARE FLATWARE SERVING PIECES NIP 1
$9.00
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ANTIQUE SILVERWARE GORHAM WM ROGERS SPOONS FORKS KNIVES MISC PIECES SILVER PLT
ANTIQUE SILVERWARE GORHAM WM ROGERS SPOONS FORKS KNIVES MISC PIECES SILVER PLT
$29.99
Time Remaining: 1h 21m
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Hagerty Flatware Silverware Silver Dip polish cleaner fork spoon knife
Hagerty Flatware Silverware Silver Dip polish cleaner fork spoon knife
$14.99
Time Remaining: 1h 21m
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ONEIDA SILVERWARE SET COMMUNITY BALLAD 1953  COUNTRY LANE  IN BOX 65pc
ONEIDA SILVERWARE SET COMMUNITY BALLAD 1953 COUNTRY LANE IN BOX 65pc
$129.99
Time Remaining: 1h 22m
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Silverware Flatware
  • Flatware Silverware
  • Silver Silverware
  • Sterling Silver Silverware
  • Antique Silverware
  • Silver Plated Silverware
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    Filed under: Sterling Silver Flatware

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