As early as 1821, scientists in Europe were experimenting with various iron-chromium alloys in an effort to forge a more durable form of steel, but it wasn’t until 1875 that Henri Aimé Brustlein identified the link between carbon and rust. That spurred decades of research and numerous combinations of chromium, iron, and nickel. By 1911, it was understood that a minimum of 10.5 percent chromium was required to assist in corrosion resistance.

Thus the idea of stainless steel was in the air at the beginning of the 20th century, which is why numerous claims to its origin between 1908 and 1913 have been made. The individual who gets the most credit, though, is Harry Brearley, the head researcher at Brown Firth Laboratories in Sheffield, England. Sheffield had long been a center of arms manufacturing, so it’s not surprising that Brearley stumbled upon stainless steel in an effort to improve the erosion resistance of gun barrels. In the course of testing a piece of steel made of 12.8 percent chromium and 0.24 percent carbon, Brearley realized he’d created what he called “rustless steel,” although Ernest Stuart, an old friend of Brearley’s and the cutlery manager at Mosley's Portland Works in Sheffield, who helped him perfect the ratio, thought “stainless steel” would have more appeal.

Today, most stainless steel is what’s known as austenitic, which describes its crystalline structure. Austenitic steel is not magnetic (in contrast, ferritic and martensitic stainless are) and is usually made of 18 percent chromium and between 8 and 10 percent nickel, which is why cutlery and flatware is sometimes labeled as 18/8 (this formula was patented in 1924 by W.H. Hatfield of Sheffield) or 18/10. In the century since its discovery, stainless steel has been embraced by a number of flatware manufacturers, including those known for their sterling and silverplate, from Oneida to Reed & Barton.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Feeding America

Feeding America

This archive of 76 influential American cookbooks from the late 1700s to early 1900s, assembled by the Michigan St… [read review or visit site]

Tupper Diva

Tupper Diva

Kristian McManus’ fresh, airtight collection of Tupperware catalogs and related ephemera from the 1950s and 6… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Mid Century Modern Danish Stainless Teak Flatware Set Made In HollandDisney Vintage Mickey Mouse Children's Fork & Spoon Stainless Silverware SetOneida 2865045a Flight 45-piece Stainless-steel Flatware Set, Service For 849pc Mid Century Dansk Designs Ihq Fjord Teak & Stainless FlatwareSet Of 6 Stainless Steel Knives Martin Hall & Co Made 1866-1937 Boxed - Aj G11Randall Knives #14 Attack Saw Teeth StainlessOneida 2865020b Flight 20-piece Stainless Steel Flatware Set, Service For 450 Pcs Vintage Oneida Community Paul Revere Stainless Flatware/serving All Clad Stainless Steel With Ceramic Insert Fondue Pot Set & Extra Forks8 Piece Pottery Barn Stainless Steel Hammered Flatware Complete Dinner Service64 Pc Ekco Eterna Canoe Muffin Flatware McmPair Of Cutco Steak Knives, Usa Made, 1759 Ki And 1759ji, Bakelite Handle* Towle Wave 40-piece Stainless Steel Flatware Set!!!Towle Lauffer Germany Stainless Flatware Set, 18-8, Rose Antique, Nice Set !!Oneida Serif 42 Piece Service For 8 Flatware SetCold Steel Knives Tokyo Spike 8" Overall German Stainless Knife & Sheath 53nhs20 Pcs Vintage Oneida Morning Blossom Stainless Knives Forks Flatware/serving Wm Rogers Mfg Co Flatware Set Lot 75 Pieces 1865 Vintage Stainless SilverwareEveredge 35382-000 16-piece Stainless Steel Knife Block Set W/8 Steak KnivesMid Century Danish Modern Dansk 27 Pc Stainless Steel Flatware Finland IhqVintage 26 Piece Lot Of Wmf Cromargan Stainless Steel Flatware Pilgrim PatternSet Of 6 Vintage Empire Kitchen Steak Knives~stainless & Pink Handles~made UsaInternational Silver Nouveau 45-piece Stainless Steel Flatware Set Service For 8Easton 5 Teaspoons Stainless Oneida Cube Mark Heirloom Flatware Kershaw Knives Zing All Stainless Speedsafe Flipper Framelock Knife 1730ssEveredge 35382-000 16-piece Stainless Steel Knife Block Set W/8 Steak KnivesOnieda Michelangelo Stainless Flatware & Serving Set 39 Pcs. Used 6 Setting 53 Pcs Vintage Oneida Community Twin Star Stainless Flatware/serving Service 8Oneida Tudor Plate 8 Oyster / Cocktail Forks In Sweet Briar Pattern 1948Marlborough - Reed And Barton - Set Of 5 French Dinner Knives - 9"66pc Oneida Frostfire Community Stainless Flatware Lot18 Pc Sss Oneida Minute Man Colonial Boston Stainless Flatware Forks Spoons Vgx{goldsun} Stainless Steel Sashimi Kitchen Knife For Sushi Cutlery Chef KnivesReed And Barton Dresden Rose Silverware SetEveredge 35382-000 16-piece Stainless Steel Knife Block Set W/8 Steak KnivesVersailles By Msi Stainless Japan Set Of (6) Salad Forks 6.5" Victorinox Swiss Army Knives - Classic Sd Stainless Alox Wfc 1227Vintage Oneida Golden Kenwood Flatware Settings For 10 Plus 5 Serving (56pieces)Aitor Knives Bucanero Spoon, Fork & Bottle Opener Knife Stainless(4) Oneida 1881 Rogers Stainless, Dinner Forks, "twilight" Aka "satin Style"Mid Century Modern Ekco Eterna Japan Stainless Steel&wood Handled Canoe FlatwareLot 9 Vtg Bakelite Forks & Knives Silverware 2 Tone Lucite Butterscotch & Red Marlborough - Reed And Barton - Set Of 4 Teaspoons - Lot #1Oneida Frostfire Stainless Flatware Lot W/ Serving Pieces 48 Pcs31 Pcs Oneida Heirloom "michelangelo" Stainless Flatware With Cube Mark43 Piece Vintage Oneida Stainless Flatware Chatelaine Betty Crocker Glossy NiceMarlborough - Reed And Barton - Set Of 8 Demitasse Spoons Versailles By Msi Stainless Japan Set Of (7) Dinner Forks 7 1/4" 15 Pc~oneida-michelangelo~heirloom Cube Usa Glossy~stainless FlatwareStainless Steel Sashimi Kitchen Knife Set For Sushi Cutlery Japanese Chef KnivesCelebrity 5 Dinner Forks Sss By Oneida Stainless Steel Flatware S.s.sLot Of Three Knives, Case, Imperial, And A."cleco" Stainless China...Easton 3 Dinner Forks Stainless Oneida Cube Mark Heirloom Flatware Oneida - Chateau - 8 Place (soup) SpoonsReed And Barton Stainless Crescendo Eight Salad ForksTudor Plate Oneida Community - Queen Bess Iced Tea Parfait Spoons Set Of 6Oneida Brahms Set Of Four Dinner Forks Community Stainless Debra'sThree (3) Air France Concorde Stainless Steel Forks Raymond Loewy DesignReed And Barton Silver Plate Set Of (16) Demitasse Spoons "harlequin" FloralWmf Manaos 20 Piece Flatware Stainless Steel / Complete Dinner Service Set