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
Flatware Set Silverware Red 20 piece Knives Forks Spoons Kitchen Dinning Plates
Flatware Set Silverware Red 20 piece Knives Forks Spoons Kitchen Dinning Plates
$39.75
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OLD LACE 1939 STERLING SILVER TEASPOON TOWLE FLATWARE SILVERWARE 925 257 GRAMS
OLD LACE 1939 STERLING SILVER TEASPOON TOWLE FLATWARE SILVERWARE 925 257 GRAMS
$24.95
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Japan Avon Spoons Stainless Steel Metal Collect Flowers Silverware
Japan Avon Spoons Stainless Steel Metal Collect Flowers Silverware
$9.00
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1930 ad 1847 Rogers Bros Silver Plate Lady Fair Pattern Flatware Silverware
1930 ad 1847 Rogers Bros Silver Plate Lady Fair Pattern Flatware Silverware
$9.99
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Oneida American Harmony 8 Teaspoons New Stainless Silverware Flatware
Oneida American Harmony 8 Teaspoons New Stainless Silverware Flatware
$40.99
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ONEIDA AMERICAN HARMONY 8 DINNER SOUP PLACE SPOONS NEW SILVERWARE FLATWARE
ONEIDA AMERICAN HARMONY 8 DINNER SOUP PLACE SPOONS NEW SILVERWARE FLATWARE
$36.99
Time Remaining: 41m
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Vintage Twisted Butter Knive 1847 Roger  Bros A 1 Engraved Magee Silver ware
Vintage Twisted Butter Knive 1847 Roger Bros A 1 Engraved Magee Silver ware
$6.50
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1930 ad 3 Page Community Plate Bird of Paradise Design Flatware Silverware Spoon
1930 ad 3 Page Community Plate Bird of Paradise Design Flatware Silverware Spoon
$19.99
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1930 ad 3 Page Community Plate Grosvenor Design Flatware Silverware Baby Spoon
1930 ad 3 Page Community Plate Grosvenor Design Flatware Silverware Baby Spoon
$19.99
Time Remaining: 52m
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1930 ad 3 Page Community Plate Noblesse Design Flatware Silverware Baby Spoon
1930 ad 3 Page Community Plate Noblesse Design Flatware Silverware Baby Spoon
$19.99
Time Remaining: 53m
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Gorham silverware 80 pieces Plate pat 1933
Gorham silverware 80 pieces Plate pat 1933
$90.00 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 58m
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1930 ad 3 Page Tudor Plate Enchantment Pattern Flatware Silverwa
1930 ad 3 Page Tudor Plate Enchantment Pattern Flatware Silverwa
$19.99
Time Remaining: 59m
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1930 ad 4 Page 1847 Silver Plate Legacy Design Pattern Flatware Silverware
1930 ad 4 Page 1847 Silver Plate Legacy Design Pattern Flatware Silverware
$19.99
Time Remaining: 1h 2m
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1930 ad 4 Page 1847 Silver Plate Silhouette Pattern Flatware Silverware
1930 ad 4 Page 1847 Silver Plate Silhouette Pattern Flatware Silverware
$19.99
Time Remaining: 1h 4m
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Wooden Spoons Disposable Wood Cutlery Silverware 100
Wooden Spoons Disposable Wood Cutlery Silverware 100
$14.98
Time Remaining: 1h 9m
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1930 ad 5 Page 1847 Silver Plate Argacy Pattern Flatware Silverware
1930 ad 5 Page 1847 Silver Plate Argacy Pattern Flatware Silverware
$19.99
Time Remaining: 1h 9m
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Vintage Silverware Rogers Co Stainless Hampshire Pattern Flatware Pieces
Vintage Silverware Rogers Co Stainless Hampshire Pattern Flatware Pieces
$9.99
Time Remaining: 1h 14m
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1930 ad Tudor Plate Mary Stuart Pattern Flatware Silverware Spoons Forks
1930 ad Tudor Plate Mary Stuart Pattern Flatware Silverware Spoons Forks
$12.99
Time Remaining: 1h 17m
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WM A Rogers Oneida LADY DORIS LENOX VICEROY PLATE MISC SILVERPLATE SILVERWARE
WM A Rogers Oneida LADY DORIS LENOX VICEROY PLATE MISC SILVERPLATE SILVERWARE
$7.99 (1 Bid)
Time Remaining: 1h 17m
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1930 ad Tudor Plate Queen Bess Mary Stuart Honeymoon Flatware Silverware Chests
1930 ad Tudor Plate Queen Bess Mary Stuart Honeymoon Flatware Silverware Chests
$9.99
Time Remaining: 1h 18m
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1930 ad Tudor Plate Skyline Pattern Flatware Silverware Spoons Baronet Dutchess
1930 ad Tudor Plate Skyline Pattern Flatware Silverware Spoons Baronet Dutchess
$12.99
Time Remaining: 1h 18m
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1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Chatelaine Maryland
1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Chatelaine Maryland
$12.99
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Lot Of Vintage Community Silver Plate Silverware Coronation Pattern Silverplate
Lot Of Vintage Community Silver Plate Silverware Coronation Pattern Silverplate
$99.99
Time Remaining: 1h 36m
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1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Modern American Mirror Clocks
1940 AD Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Modern American Mirror Clocks
$12.99
Time Remaining: 1h 36m
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1928 ADVERTISEMENT 6 PG Universal Silver Flatware Silverware Farmington Pattern
1928 ADVERTISEMENT 6 PG Universal Silver Flatware Silverware Farmington Pattern
$19.99
Time Remaining: 1h 39m
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1928 ADVERTISEMENT 6 Page Community Plate Flatware Silverware Adam Pattern
1928 ADVERTISEMENT 6 Page Community Plate Flatware Silverware Adam Pattern
$19.99
Time Remaining: 1h 40m
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Silverware Flatware
  • Flatware Silverware
  • Silver Silverware
  • Sterling Silver Silverware
  • Antique Silverware
  • Silver Plated Silverware
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