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
Hampton HSV28 Gold Electroplate Dinner Fork NEW Stainless Silverware Flatware
Hampton HSV28 Gold Electroplate Dinner Fork NEW Stainless Silverware Flatware
$5.99
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Reed  Barton Golden Carriage Dinner Knife Electroplate Stainless Silverware EUC
Reed Barton Golden Carriage Dinner Knife Electroplate Stainless Silverware EUC
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Oneida LTD Silverware 1881 ROGERS Triple SERVING SPOON FORK and 3 SOUP SPOONS
Oneida LTD Silverware 1881 ROGERS Triple SERVING SPOON FORK and 3 SOUP SPOONS
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Vintage Silverware Silverplate Mixed Lot 9 pieces Spoons Forks Other pieces
Vintage Silverware Silverplate Mixed Lot 9 pieces Spoons Forks Other pieces
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Time Remaining: 1h 9m
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Reed  Barton Cortland Oval Soup Spoon NEW Stainless Flatware Silverware
Reed Barton Cortland Oval Soup Spoon NEW Stainless Flatware Silverware
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1938 AD Wm Rogers Silverplate Silverware Flatware Society Ultra Manor Plate
1938 AD Wm Rogers Silverplate Silverware Flatware Society Ultra Manor Plate
$12.99
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J A Henckels Serrated Blade Steak Knife HEN9 Stainless Flatware Silverware
J A Henckels Serrated Blade Steak Knife HEN9 Stainless Flatware Silverware
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Time Remaining: 1h 36m
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51 piece Rogers 1881 Oneida silverware with case
51 piece Rogers 1881 Oneida silverware with case
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Oneida Venetia Teaspoon Community Burnished Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Venetia Teaspoon Community Burnished Stainless Flatware Silverware
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Wm Rogers  Son Bermuda Dinner Knife International Stainless Flatware Silverware
Wm Rogers Son Bermuda Dinner Knife International Stainless Flatware Silverware
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WM Rogers  Son Bermuda Oval Soup Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
WM Rogers Son Bermuda Oval Soup Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware VGC
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Wm Rogers  Son Bermuda Dinner Fork International Stainless Flatware Silverware
Wm Rogers Son Bermuda Dinner Fork International Stainless Flatware Silverware
$3.99
Time Remaining: 1h 52m
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Cambridge 18 8 Stainless Silverware Unknown Pattern 02 Soup Spoon
Cambridge 18 8 Stainless Silverware Unknown Pattern 02 Soup Spoon
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Cambridge 18 8 Stainless Steel Silverware Unknown Pattern 02 Sugar Spoon
Cambridge 18 8 Stainless Steel Silverware Unknown Pattern 02 Sugar Spoon
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Time Remaining: 1h 58m
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Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware CRESTVU Dinner Knife
Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware CRESTVU Dinner Knife
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Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware CRESTVU Dinner Fork
Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware CRESTVU Dinner Fork
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Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware CRESTVU Salad Fork
Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware CRESTVU Salad Fork
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Time Remaining: 2h 3m
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J A Henckels Earl GLOSSY Teaspoon 6 1 2 Stainless Flatware Silverware
J A Henckels Earl GLOSSY Teaspoon 6 1 2 Stainless Flatware Silverware
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Mar Crest Starburst Stainless Silverware Flatware Lot 5 USA MCM Atomic Setting
Mar Crest Starburst Stainless Silverware Flatware Lot 5 USA MCM Atomic Setting
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J A Henckels Earl GLOSSY Dinner Fork 8 Stainless Flatware Silverware
J A Henckels Earl GLOSSY Dinner Fork 8 Stainless Flatware Silverware
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Time Remaining: 2h 4m
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Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware CRESTVU Soup Spoon
Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware CRESTVU Soup Spoon
$5.95
Time Remaining: 2h 4m
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J A Henckels Earl GLOSSY Oval Soup Spoon 7 3 8 Stainless Flatware Silverware
J A Henckels Earl GLOSSY Oval Soup Spoon 7 3 8 Stainless Flatware Silverware
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Cambridge 18 8 Stainless Silverware Unknown Pattern 02 Dinner Fork
Cambridge 18 8 Stainless Silverware Unknown Pattern 02 Dinner Fork
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Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware GLAMOUR Soup Spoon
Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware GLAMOUR Soup Spoon
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Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware GLAMOUR Serving Spoon
Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware GLAMOUR Serving Spoon
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Time Remaining: 2h 10m
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Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware GLAMOUR Pierced Serving Spoon
Stanley Roberts Rogers Co Stainless Silverware GLAMOUR Pierced Serving Spoon
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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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