Long before the Tiffany name became associated with stained glass lamps or Audrey Hepburn, it was synonymous with elegance and taste in America. The Tiffany legacy goes back to 1837, when Charles Lewis Tiffany founded a small dry-goods and stationery store in New York. His modest shop would eventually grow into the famous high-end jewelry and housewares business known as Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany began selling silverware in 1847, most of which was produced in Europe. Shortly thereafter, German-trained designer Gustav Herter was hired to execute Tiffany products in New York, and in 1851, renowned American silversmith Edward C. Moore, Jr. was added to the firm.

While many silver companies lowered their standards with the adoption of mass-production plating techniques in the 1850s, Tiffany & Co. maintained the highest level of craftsmanship and continued to hire artisans to create its pieces. Tiffany was also the first American company to adhere to the .925 British standard for silver purity. This would ultimately become the U.S. sterling-silver standard, in part because Tiffany personally lobbied members of Congress to make it so.

At the Paris Exposition of 1867, Tiffany received the bronze medal for silver work and became the first American company recognized internationally for silversmithing. The exposition’s theme was Orientalism, which helped cement Moore’s interest in Eastern arts, pushing him to experiment with striking new shapes and imagery.

Traditionally, American-made silver closely followed established styles in Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands by simply reviving existing designs, whether Empire, Egyptian, Greek, or Rococo. By 1870, though, Moore had become the Tiffany’s chief designer and president, and the following year he introduced a flatware pattern simply called Japanese. The design was renamed Audubon following World War II, and remains Tiffany’s best-selling pattern to this day.

Tiffany’s groundbreaking designs for the Japanese line showcase naturalist imagery including cherry blossoms, irises, birds, bamboo, dragonflies, and other Asian motifs. Much of this silver work was produced using mixed metals in the traditional Japanese Meiji methods, in which silver designs are detailed with gold, copper, or brass, or layered on a contrasting color base.

These Asian-influenced pieces made a splash at the Paris Exhibition in 1878, winning Tiffany the grand prize in silver design. The company could now claim the honor of having its...

In 1889, Tiffany released another important line designed by Moore called Saracenic. These pieces feature Islamic-inspired designs such as sarcophagi forms, pointed arches, and arabesque details. Tiffany silver was soon modeled after Native American forms as well, such as Paulding Farnham’s bowl shaped like a traditional Hupa basket with turquoise rattlesnake handles, which was produced for the Paris Exposition of 1900. Eventually, the fluid, natural forms of Art Nouveau began to replace these more exotic looks.

Tiffany’s silver designs continued to reflect current trends throughout the early 20th century, from the extravagance of the 1920s to the Art Deco of the 1930s to the streamlined aerodynamic look of the 1940s. Many of the company’s most iconic sterling silver lines, from Shell and Thread to English King, are still produced today.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Chicago Silver

Chicago Silver

Paul Somerson's incredible reference on handwrought metalwork from the American Arts and Crafts movement of the ear… [read review or visit site]

Silver Marks Encyclopedia

Silver Marks Encyclopedia

An extensive reference guide to silver marks, hallmarks, trademarks and maker's marks found on antique and vintage … [read review or visit site]

Silver at the Victoria and Albert

Silver at the Victoria and Albert

This is a great reference site on silver, courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum. You can view silver items acc… [read review or visit site]

The Gilbert Collection

The Gilbert Collection

The late Sir Arthur Gilbert's collection of European silver, gold, enamel, and other items is now housed at the Vic… [read review or visit site]

Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj

Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj

“Delight in Design: Indian Silver for the Raj” was the title of a 2008 exhibition at Columbia University’s Mi… [read review or visit site]

TheStieffCompany.com

TheStieffCompany.com

Scott Perkins is an enthusiastic evangelist for The Stieff Company, a significant Baltimore silversmith and maker o… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Bamboo Cocktail Set "germany" 3 Piece Set NibRare Tiffany & Co. Solid Silver Box Antique Englsih Estate Find 1907-1947Early, Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Spoon Tray, C1865, 130gmAntique 1898 Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Cigar Lamp Lighter 3" 129gmGorgeous Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver 1837 Cuff 21.1 GramsTiffany & Co. Italy Sterling Silver Vase Urn Appr 4" Rare W/ Box Minty! No Res!Tiffany & Co Bear Bull Wall Street Cuff Links Sterling Silver 925 With BagLot Of 5 Tiffany/sheaffer Sterling Pens And Pencils, One With 14kt Gold InlayVery Rare Signed Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Richly Decorated Bowl Dated 1875Tiffany Treasure Chest Sterling Silver Match Box Very Rare 104.60 GramsPalau 2011 $10 Tiffany Art - Manueline - 2 Oz Silver Coin (pf 70)Fabulous Tiffany & Co. Richelieu Sterling Silver 13" Soup Ladle, 1892Tiffany Sterling Silver Mirror & Picture Frame Lot Of 2 One Made In ItalyAntique Tiffany & Co .925 Sterling Silver Coin Tray / Nut Dish - Minor ScratchesVintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Audubon Spoon Tiffany & Co Water Pitcher 1854 J.c. Moore Sterling Silver Repousse Rare!Tiffany &co. Blue Reversable Silver Tote Bag $675Tiffany & Co Sterling Demitasse Cup & Saucer With Porcelain Liner Set/6 MonoBeautiful Signed Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Candy Nut Bowl Dish 22955 C1947Vtg. Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Picture Frame W Black Lucite Italy 1940s NiceVintage Tiffany & Co Makers Sterling Silver Cedar Lining Jewelry Box 23325Antique Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Holly Pattern Demitasse Shrimp Fork C.1894Scrap/use 2 Lbs 925 Sterling Silver Jewelry,tiffany Spoon,gorham,v.l S/p ShakersTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Atlas Groove Cuff LinksBeautiful Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Sreving Spoon 99g W/ Bird PatternSet 12 Tiffany Co Sterling Silver 925 Queen Anne 4 3/8" Demitasse Teaspoon SpoonAuthentic Tiffany & Co. .925 Sterling Silver 1837 Band, 7mm, Size 9, No ReserveAuthentic Tiffany & Co Peretti Italy 1984 Sterling 925 Collectors Spoon 28.2g Authentic Tiffany & Co Sterling Owl BookmarkAntique Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Salt Cellars 10 Ounces! No Reserve!!!Tiffany And Co Silver EaringsPlease Return To Tiffany & Co. Heart Key Tag Neckalce Silver 16" 9596Tiffany Co Retired Vintage Sterling Silver Striped Rectangle Pill Box ItalySet 5 Signed Tiffany Co Sterling Silver 925 Gramercy Teaspoon Spoon Flatware NrPalau 2015 10$ Nasrid Style Tiffany Art 2 Oz Antique Finish Silver CoinVintage Tiffany & Co Oval Sterling Silver Picture Frame - 3" X 4" Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Stamp Dispenser W/ Box. 2 Of 2Rare American Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Mug Hidden Message Tiffany & Co 1885Tiffany &co. Elsa Peretti Sterling Silver Rosary Beads LnibPalau 2015 10$ Nasrid Style Tiffany Art 2 Oz Antique Finish Silver CoinTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 5x7 Rectangular Photo Frame New With Bag & BoxTiffany Mid-century Sterling Silver Pomegranate Form Flower Vase,3.5"Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Snowflake Neckace With Box, Pouch & CardTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Stamp Dispenser W/ Box. 1 Of 2Please Return To Tiffany & Co. Heart Tag Neckalce Silver 16" 9655Tiffany & Co. Sterling United Airlines 2 Million Mile Flyer Business Card HolderAntique Sterling Tiffany & Co Vine - Squash Pierced Long Handle Olive Spoon 1872Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Petite Bon Bon Or Nut Dish ~ ExcellentReally Nice Tiffany & Co. Sterling Teapot 23333Antique Tiffany & Co Sterling Vine Fruits & Flowers 7" Scalloped Serving SpoonVtg 100% Authentic Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Leaf Bookmark! Gorgeous!Vintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Mini Compact W/ Powder Screen Puff Mirror & BagAntique Silver Very Early Victorian Tiffany & Co Buckles Ca 1851 & 1873.Antique Tiffany&co Estate Sterling Silver Compact Rouge Powder 49.9g No Res!!!Post-1940 Six Colonial Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 925 Fork Set (292g)Tiffany Sterling Silver 925 Bookmark Clip W/ PouchTiffany & Co. Triple Heart Tag Neckalce Silver 16" 9656Palau 2015 $10 Tiffany Art - Nasrid Style Alhambra Granada 2 Oz Silver CoinAntique Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 8 Days Alarm Travel ClockTiffany & Co. Silver/nickel Finish Carriage Clock