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
Antique WM A Rogers Oneida Knives Spoon Fork Cake cutter Silverware Lot of 70
Antique WM A Rogers Oneida Knives Spoon Fork Cake cutter Silverware Lot of 70
$159.99
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12 piece dark blue plastic handle silverware of stainlees steel
12 piece dark blue plastic handle silverware of stainlees steel
$2.00
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8 Pieces of 1948 Morning Star Community Plated Silverware 7 Spoons and 1 Fork
8 Pieces of 1948 Morning Star Community Plated Silverware 7 Spoons and 1 Fork
$25.00
Time Remaining: 36m
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International New Charm Dinner Knife HH Lyon Stainless Flatware Silverware
International New Charm Dinner Knife HH Lyon Stainless Flatware Silverware
$8.95
Time Remaining: 37m
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Rubbermaid Silverware Flatware Drawer Tray 6 Compartment Blue No 2925 USA
Rubbermaid Silverware Flatware Drawer Tray 6 Compartment Blue No 2925 USA
$0.99
Time Remaining: 40m
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Gorham Melon Bud FROSTED Dinner Knife 18 10 Stainless Flatware Silverware
Gorham Melon Bud FROSTED Dinner Knife 18 10 Stainless Flatware Silverware
$5.99
Time Remaining: 41m
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Flatware Caddy Buffet Mason Jar Table Silverware Storage Cutlery Holder Picnic
Flatware Caddy Buffet Mason Jar Table Silverware Storage Cutlery Holder Picnic
$39.90
Time Remaining: 43m
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WMF Fraser Edinburgh Festival Salad Fork Dessert Stainless Flatware Silverware
WMF Fraser Edinburgh Festival Salad Fork Dessert Stainless Flatware Silverware
$29.95
Time Remaining: 48m
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WMF Fraser Edinburgh Festival Teaspoon Stainless Flatware Silverware 6 1 8
WMF Fraser Edinburgh Festival Teaspoon Stainless Flatware Silverware 6 1 8
$79.95
Time Remaining: 50m
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Mason Jar Flatware Caddy Silverware Holder Glass Metal Picnic Party Table NEW
Mason Jar Flatware Caddy Silverware Holder Glass Metal Picnic Party Table NEW
$39.99
Time Remaining: 51m
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International Royal Bead Iced Tea Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
International Royal Bead Iced Tea Spoon Stainless Flatware Silverware
$7.99
Time Remaining: 52m
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Oneida Chatelaine Jelly Server Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
Oneida Chatelaine Jelly Server Community Stainless Flatware Silverware
$15.99
Time Remaining: 52m
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Oneida Lasting Rose Sugar Spoon Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware Glossy
Oneida Lasting Rose Sugar Spoon Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware Glossy
$6.99
Time Remaining: 52m
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Oneida Lasting Rose Gravy Ladle Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware Glossy
Oneida Lasting Rose Gravy Ladle Deluxe Stainless Flatware Silverware Glossy
$9.99
Time Remaining: 52m
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Oneida Milady Sugar Spoon Silverplate 1940 Community Flatware Silverware
Oneida Milady Sugar Spoon Silverplate 1940 Community Flatware Silverware
$9.99
Time Remaining: 52m
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King Edward Silverware National Silver Company
King Edward Silverware National Silver Company
$33.00
Time Remaining: 55m
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VINTAGE Flatware Case Storage Cutlery Silverware Chest Box MAHOGANY Curved
VINTAGE Flatware Case Storage Cutlery Silverware Chest Box MAHOGANY Curved
$10.95 (2 Bids)
Time Remaining: 57m
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Silverware Sugar Spoon Alvin Plate Pat 1940 Fashion Lane Silverplate Flatware
Silverware Sugar Spoon Alvin Plate Pat 1940 Fashion Lane Silverplate Flatware
$6.25
Time Remaining: 1h 3m
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3 PIECES OF ANTIQUE SILVERWARE
3 PIECES OF ANTIQUE SILVERWARE
$4.95
Time Remaining: 1h 5m
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Antique Rare Silver Silverware spoons forks knifes set collection 1930s
Antique Rare Silver Silverware spoons forks knifes set collection 1930s
$99.99
Time Remaining: 1h 5m
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Vtg Alvin Silverware Gravy Ladle Chateau Rose Spoon Sterling Silver Flatware
Vtg Alvin Silverware Gravy Ladle Chateau Rose Spoon Sterling Silver Flatware
$54.95
Time Remaining: 1h 10m
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VINTAGE WMROGERS  SON IS SILVERWARE MINT CONDITION
VINTAGE WMROGERS SON IS SILVERWARE MINT CONDITION
$14.95
Time Remaining: 1h 16m
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VINTAGE WMROGERS  SON IS FULL TWO SET SILVERWARE MINT
VINTAGE WMROGERS SON IS FULL TWO SET SILVERWARE MINT
$34.95
Time Remaining: 1h 16m
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44 PC STERLING SILVER ROGERS BRIDAL VEIL FLATWARE SILVERWARE SET
44 PC STERLING SILVER ROGERS BRIDAL VEIL FLATWARE SILVERWARE SET
$1,579.99
Time Remaining: 1h 19m
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Community Real Silver Silverware Set Heavily tarnished
Community Real Silver Silverware Set Heavily tarnished
$99.00
Time Remaining: 1h 20m
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Gorham Golden Swirl Sugar Spoon Shell Stainless Flatware Silverware 6 1 8
Gorham Golden Swirl Sugar Spoon Shell Stainless Flatware Silverware 6 1 8
$6.95
Time Remaining: 1h 23m
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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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