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
15 Community Plate Flatware Silverware Adam Spoons Knives Fork Knife Silverplate
15 Community Plate Flatware Silverware Adam Spoons Knives Fork Knife Silverplate
$34.99
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Silver Flatware New 20 piece Carlisle Stainless silverware set
Silver Flatware New 20 piece Carlisle Stainless silverware set
$38.00
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Vintage 1881 Rogers Bros Oneida Flatware Silverware Storage Chest Box Tarnish
Vintage 1881 Rogers Bros Oneida Flatware Silverware Storage Chest Box Tarnish
$59.99
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Oneida Humpty Dumpty Baby Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Humpty Dumpty Baby Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware
$3.99
Time Remaining: 34m
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VINTAGE THAILAND JAMES 19 PIECE DESSERT SILVERWARE SET Cherry
VINTAGE THAILAND JAMES 19 PIECE DESSERT SILVERWARE SET Cherry
$44.99
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Madesmart Silverware Tray Silver Ware Flatware Fork Knife Spoon Organizer Drawer
Madesmart Silverware Tray Silver Ware Flatware Fork Knife Spoon Organizer Drawer
$21.99
Time Remaining: 39m
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SSS BY ONEIDA SILVERWARE FLATWARE STAINLESS STEEL
SSS BY ONEIDA SILVERWARE FLATWARE STAINLESS STEEL
$16.35
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59pc Lot Vintage Oneida Community Silverware Lady Hamilton Silver Plated
59pc Lot Vintage Oneida Community Silverware Lady Hamilton Silver Plated
$49.99
Time Remaining: 41m
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VINTAGE SILVERWARE MIXED LOT PURITAN J RUSSELL ROGERS ONEIDA H  R
VINTAGE SILVERWARE MIXED LOT PURITAN J RUSSELL ROGERS ONEIDA H R
$10.99
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Vintage 1847 Rogers Bros IS First Love Silverplate 45 Pc Silverware Set
Vintage 1847 Rogers Bros IS First Love Silverplate 45 Pc Silverware Set
$135.00
Time Remaining: 51m
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Th Marthinsen Norway Vidar Pattern 5 Piece Place Setting Silverware S P Flatware
Th Marthinsen Norway Vidar Pattern 5 Piece Place Setting Silverware S P Flatware
$55.00
Time Remaining: 55m
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ONEIDA COMMUNITY GROSVENOR SILVER PLATE SERVICE FLATWARE SILVERWARE c1921 56 PCS
ONEIDA COMMUNITY GROSVENOR SILVER PLATE SERVICE FLATWARE SILVERWARE c1921 56 PCS
$49.95
Time Remaining: 57m
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6 Gumbo Spoons Oneida Community Silverware Lady Hamilton Silver Plated 7
6 Gumbo Spoons Oneida Community Silverware Lady Hamilton Silver Plated 7
$19.99
Time Remaining: 58m
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SET 3 VINTAGE EMBROIDERED STORAGE BAGS POUCHES SILVERWARE FLATWARE
SET 3 VINTAGE EMBROIDERED STORAGE BAGS POUCHES SILVERWARE FLATWARE
$5.99
Time Remaining: 1h 3m
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Vintage Eastern Airlines Flatware Silverware 18 Pieces Free Shipping
Vintage Eastern Airlines Flatware Silverware 18 Pieces Free Shipping
$29.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 1h 7m
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Assortment of Silverware
Assortment of Silverware
$8.00
Time Remaining: 1h 9m
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VINTAGE COMPLETE SET BENEDICT MFG SOLID ELECTRIC SILVER WARE ORIGINAL BOX
VINTAGE COMPLETE SET BENEDICT MFG SOLID ELECTRIC SILVER WARE ORIGINAL BOX
$119.99
Time Remaining: 1h 10m
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43 Piece Lot Airline Silverware No Duplicates
43 Piece Lot Airline Silverware No Duplicates
$29.00
Time Remaining: 1h 11m
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92 Pc Vintage Set Siam Brass Buddha Flatware Collectible Silverware Wood Handles
92 Pc Vintage Set Siam Brass Buddha Flatware Collectible Silverware Wood Handles
$75.99
Time Remaining: 1h 12m
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Lunt Stainless Silverware HILLSBOROUGH Gravy Ladle
Lunt Stainless Silverware HILLSBOROUGH Gravy Ladle
$17.99
Time Remaining: 1h 16m
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Tuscany 45 Pcs Flatware Set Serves 8 Silverware Frosted Salad Dessert Stainless
Tuscany 45 Pcs Flatware Set Serves 8 Silverware Frosted Salad Dessert Stainless
$96.93
Time Remaining: 1h 20m
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Vintage Oneida And Customcraft Stainless Steel Flatware Silverware 161 Pieces
Vintage Oneida And Customcraft Stainless Steel Flatware Silverware 161 Pieces
$99.99
Time Remaining: 1h 24m
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4 Towle Lauffer Pela Soup Spoon 7 1 2 Stainless Flatware Silverware 18 8 VGUC
4 Towle Lauffer Pela Soup Spoon 7 1 2 Stainless Flatware Silverware 18 8 VGUC
$17.99
Time Remaining: 1h 29m
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Utensil Tray Holder Ex Large Bamboo Organizer Silverware Kitchen Drawer Storage
Utensil Tray Holder Ex Large Bamboo Organizer Silverware Kitchen Drawer Storage
$47.07
Time Remaining: 1h 31m
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2 Towle Lauffer Pela Dinner Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware 18 8 VGC
2 Towle Lauffer Pela Dinner Fork Stainless Flatware Silverware 18 8 VGC
$9.99
Time Remaining: 1h 34m
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Johnys Gems Vintage brass silverware set Made by Sikuk Phayasri of Bangkok
Johnys Gems Vintage brass silverware set Made by Sikuk Phayasri of Bangkok
$89.00
Time Remaining: 1h 35m
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Silverware Flatware
  • Flatware Silverware
  • Silver Silverware
  • Sterling Silver Silverware
  • Antique Silverware
  • Silver Plated Silverware
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