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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Is it Flatware, Cutlery, Silverware, Tableware or What?

What's the generic name you use for your set of forks, knives, spoons, etc.? We use the term, "flatware", to describe such a set of dining utensils. This seems to be a fairly common term in the United States and extends to sets made of all types of material, not just sterling. So, to be specific, we always use the term, "sterling flatware", if that's what we are describing. Sometimes, you see this word misspelled as "flatwear".

Outside the United States, the term "cutlery", seems to be used a lot to describe what we call flatware. Here in the United States, we often use this term only to include items that "cut" such as knives and scissors.

In the South, we hear the term, "silverware", being used to describe what we think of as flatware, even if the pieces contain no silver! For example, someone might say, "I use my everyday silverware most of the time but on Sunday, I use my good silverware." This could be translated as, "I use my stainless steel flatware most of the time but on Sunday, I use my sterling flatware."

"Tableware" is also used but this term may broader in that it might include other dining pieces such as dishes.

Also in the South, we hear the term, "silver", being used to define sterling or silverplate flatware. I can remember hearing such phrases as, "On Thanksgiving Day, we set the table with our silver."

When we sell sterling flatware, we try to describe exactly what we are selling so there will be no question. When buying, we ask a seller to do the same thing. I have received many initial inquiries stating something like this, "I have some excellent sterling silverplate pieces."

By clicking on "Comments/Questions" below, you can see posted comments and add your own questions and comments. Or, you can send us an email by clicking on "View My Complete Profile" in the right column.


Charlie Levy said...

From the experience of selling on the web, I have found this article to be totally true. When I go and check my statistics of what keywords were used to find my products on my website, different parts of the country and world for that matter, do used the these terms interchangably.
Pots Pans and Cutlery

verlaschmidt said...

I have about fifty pieces of sterling flatware 8 by Stieff of Md. and the rest by Kirks of Md. both of whom are now merged. They are probably mostly made prior to the 2nd WW sometime in the 40. I would like to sell them. Can you help?

Silver Jim said...

This is in response to the previous comment.

I may be able to help with the Kirk and Stieff pieces. Click on "Email Silver Jim" in the right column of this site and send me the pattern names and an inventory of pieces. Tell me the lengths of the dinner forks and knives. Also, describe monograms or other custom engraving, if any.



Anonymous said...

I have some flatware stamped on the back with WM Rogers and then A1 and then I S. Does anyone know the value of this? Is it silver or silverplate

Silver Jim said...

This is in response to the previous post.

Your set is made of silver plate. Unfortunately, used silver plate flatware is not worth very much. Generally, place setting pieces attract a dollar or two each. Some serving pieces fetch more.

You might try listing it on to see what offers you attract.

In the right hand column of this blog, scroll down to the label, "Silver Plate" and click on it. You'll then see some postings that will help.