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
Silverware 2 Huge Serving Plates
Silverware 2 Huge Serving Plates
$39.99
Time Remaining: 31m
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AD 3 VTG 1950S GOTHAMWARE TOURQUOIS HARD PLASTIC FLATWARE SILVERWARE TRAY
AD 3 VTG 1950S GOTHAMWARE TOURQUOIS HARD PLASTIC FLATWARE SILVERWARE TRAY
$6.99
Time Remaining: 32m
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Imperial IIC Korea Stainless Silverware FLEURETTE Salad Fork 6 1 2
Imperial IIC Korea Stainless Silverware FLEURETTE Salad Fork 6 1 2
$4.99
Time Remaining: 37m
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Gorham 18 8 Stainless Silverware MONET Glossy Cocktail Seafood Fork
Gorham 18 8 Stainless Silverware MONET Glossy Cocktail Seafood Fork
$4.95
Time Remaining: 37m
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Imperial IIC Korea Stainless Silverware FLEURETTE Soup Spoon
Imperial IIC Korea Stainless Silverware FLEURETTE Soup Spoon
$4.95
Time Remaining: 38m
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International DUBONNET 3 Salad Forks Decorator Stainless Flatware Silverware
International DUBONNET 3 Salad Forks Decorator Stainless Flatware Silverware
$19.95
Time Remaining: 38m
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Imperial IIC Korea Stainless Silverware FLEURETTE Teaspoon
Imperial IIC Korea Stainless Silverware FLEURETTE Teaspoon
$4.99
Time Remaining: 39m
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MAGNOLIA INSPIRATION 47pc 8Pl 1951 Rogers IS Silverplate Flatware Silverware Set
MAGNOLIA INSPIRATION 47pc 8Pl 1951 Rogers IS Silverplate Flatware Silverware Set
$99.95 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 41m
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Imperial IIC Korea Stainless Silverware FLEURETTE Flat Master Butter Knife
Imperial IIC Korea Stainless Silverware FLEURETTE Flat Master Butter Knife
$4.95
Time Remaining: 42m
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Antigue 1931 TPC Dilver Seal Tarnish Proof Silverware Storage Chest
Antigue 1931 TPC Dilver Seal Tarnish Proof Silverware Storage Chest
$9.99
Time Remaining: 43m
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VINTAGE ANTIQUE LOT OF 48 PIECES OF SILVER PLATED FLATWARE SILVERWARE
VINTAGE ANTIQUE LOT OF 48 PIECES OF SILVER PLATED FLATWARE SILVERWARE
$39.99
Time Remaining: 44m
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Stainless By Salem 1776 Pattern Beaded Edge Flatware silverware spoons 13 avail
Stainless By Salem 1776 Pattern Beaded Edge Flatware silverware spoons 13 avail
$2.00
Time Remaining: 45m
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45 Piece Gold Tone Electroplate Flatware Set Silverware Korea HIL
45 Piece Gold Tone Electroplate Flatware Set Silverware Korea HIL
$46.00 (15 Bids)
Time Remaining: 46m
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VINTAGE COLLECTIBLE SILVERWARE RODGERS DEMLER HOLMES 23 PCREPURPOSE LOOK
VINTAGE COLLECTIBLE SILVERWARE RODGERS DEMLER HOLMES 23 PCREPURPOSE LOOK
$9.99
Time Remaining: 50m
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International DUBONNET 3 Teaspoons 1847 Rogers Stainless Flatware Silverware
International DUBONNET 3 Teaspoons 1847 Rogers Stainless Flatware Silverware
$14.95
Time Remaining: 53m
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Vintage Antique Silver Plated Spoon Bracelet Silverware Flatware Sterling Silver
Vintage Antique Silver Plated Spoon Bracelet Silverware Flatware Sterling Silver
$25.00
Time Remaining: 58m
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Pfaltzgraff Stainless Silverware Bone Ivory Plastic Handle Dinner Fork
Pfaltzgraff Stainless Silverware Bone Ivory Plastic Handle Dinner Fork
$4.95
Time Remaining: 58m
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Vtg Doll House Miniature Barton Wooden Silverware Box 16pc Flatware Set Lot
Vtg Doll House Miniature Barton Wooden Silverware Box 16pc Flatware Set Lot
$11.19
Time Remaining: 59m
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ONEIDA OUR VERY BEST SILVERWARE CO 1907 VINEYARD YOUTH OR SALAD FORK 1907
ONEIDA OUR VERY BEST SILVERWARE CO 1907 VINEYARD YOUTH OR SALAD FORK 1907
$6.99
Time Remaining: 1h 1m
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Pfaltzgraff Stainless Silverware Bone Ivory Plastic Handle Salad Fork
Pfaltzgraff Stainless Silverware Bone Ivory Plastic Handle Salad Fork
$4.95
Time Remaining: 1h 1m
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Pfaltzgraff Stainless Silverware Bone Ivory Plastic Handle Soup Spoon
Pfaltzgraff Stainless Silverware Bone Ivory Plastic Handle Soup Spoon
$4.95
Time Remaining: 1h 3m
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Set Lot of 4 Oneida Bordeaux Salad Fork silverware BRAND NEW FREE SHIPPING
Set Lot of 4 Oneida Bordeaux Salad Fork silverware BRAND NEW FREE SHIPPING
$18.74
Time Remaining: 1h 5m
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2 Dinner Salad Forks Flatware Braniff WM Rogers Silverware
2 Dinner Salad Forks Flatware Braniff WM Rogers Silverware
$0.99
Time Remaining: 1h 6m
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2 ONEIDA OUR VERY BEST SILVERWARE CO 1907 VINEYARD TABLE OR SOUP SPOONS
2 ONEIDA OUR VERY BEST SILVERWARE CO 1907 VINEYARD TABLE OR SOUP SPOONS
$38.99
Time Remaining: 1h 10m
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Pfaltzgraff Stainless Silverware Bone Ivory Plastic Handle Teaspoon
Pfaltzgraff Stainless Silverware Bone Ivory Plastic Handle Teaspoon
$4.95
Time Remaining: 1h 10m
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Brown 20 Piece Flatware Set Knives Forks Spoons Silverware Service For Four New
Brown 20 Piece Flatware Set Knives Forks Spoons Silverware Service For Four New
$39.95
Time Remaining: 1h 13m
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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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