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    

Rare C1900 Shiebler Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Medallion Heraldic Belt BuckleTiffany & Co. 925 Sterling Silver Moon Baby Raddle 34.3gTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Tea SetTiffany&co Sterling Silver Cigarette Circular Box Circa 1960 Italy Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 925 Ice Tongs (75.7g) (nr)2015 Palau Tiffany Art Alhambra De Granada 2 Oz Silver $10 Coin Nasrid StylePalau 2015 $10 Tiffany Art - Nasrid Style 2 Oz Silver Coin Mintage 999 Pieces!Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Vine Fruits & Flowers Lg Sugar Sifter Spoon VermeilVery Rare Antique Tiffany Sterling Silver Tomato Vine Oyster Ladle 10.6" 206 GrmTiffany & Co. Art Deco Sterling Silver Gold And Sapphire Compact BoxTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Wave Edge 2-pc Large Salad Serving SetLovely Tiffany & Co Silver Plate Letter Opener In Box - 399 C33Tiffany & Co Grape Vine Sterling Silver Large Vermeil Fish Slice ServerAntique Victorian Tiffany & Co 17424a Hollow Sterling Silver Table Brush, NrLot Of 12 Angela Cummings Tiffany & Co Sterling Twist Pens New Old Stock Tiffany & Co Strawberry Vine Sterling Silver Berry Casserole Spoon Kidney BowlAntique Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Cream & Sugar Bowl Set, Flower GarlandsTiffany Art Nasrid Style Alhambra Granada 2 Oz Silver Coin 10$ Palau 20151910 Tiffany & Co Makers Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Box John C Moore 7 Troy OzTiffany & Co. Smooth Tulip 28925 Sterling Silver 925 Flower Vase (292g)Highly Desirable Tiffany & Co. Richelieu Sterling Silver 13" Soup Ladle, 1892Tiffany & Co. Vintage Oilcan Vermouth Dispenser - Sterling Silver100% Authentic Tiffany&co. Silver 925 Peretti Bean Neckless 3.0g /u8Tiffany Art Nasrid Style 2015 Palau 10 Dollars 2 Oz 999 Silver Coin6 Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Hamilton Gramercy Olive/cocktail ForksTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver .925 Jigger Cup Pair Set 210gVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 8 Day Travel Clock Runs & Keeps TimeVintage Tiffany & Company Sterling Silver 925 Perfume 3" Flask Funnel AuthenticTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Engraved Pattern 9-1/4" Long Claw-tipped TongsVintage Tiffany & Co Paloma Picasso Sterling Silver 925 "groove" BookmarkTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Demitasse Spoons 8 Pieces Plus 1 Condiment Spoon Palau 2015 $10 Tiffany Art - Nasrid Style Alhambra Granada 2 Oz Silver CoinLot Of 12 Angela Cummings Tiffany & Co Sterling Twist Pens New Old Stock Old Antique Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Ink Blotter Desk Item Ornate Victorian(12) Antique Sterling Silver Salt Cellars * Nice Lot Hallmarked Tiffany & Co.Palau 2015 $10 Tiffany Art - Nasrid Style 2 Oz Silver Coin Mintage 999 Pieces!Carroll Baker "harlow" Tiffany Sterling Cigarette LighterTiffany & Co. 925 Sterling Silver Mint Candy Bowl 4 1/2" X 4 1/2" 116 Grams Vintage,,,tiffany & Co,,, Sterling Silver- Bead-, Ear Rings, With Pouch,,,nrOrig Tiffany + Co Sterling Silver Owl Figural BookmarkNew Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Abc Bears Baby Spoon With Gift Receipt CardKilo - 2015 Palau Tiffany Art Alhambra De Granada $50 Antique Finish Silver CoinTiffany & Co. Silver & Enamel Circus Clown Performer By Gene Moore Tiffany Sterling Silver Bone Cuff From The Elsa Peretti CollectionPalau $10 Tiffany Art 2015 Nasrid Style 2 Oz Antique Finish Silver Coin Limited Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Chrysanthemum 5 Pc Place Setting! Wow!!Antique Sterling Silver .925 Tiffany Fork Lot 477 GramsAuthentic Vintange Tiffany And Co Sterling Silver Powder Compact With Pouch/boxVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Pill Box Urn ContainerTiffany & Co. Round Book Mark, Sterling Silver, Pouch & Box~Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Studded 8 Mm Mens' Band Size 9Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Ladle 50.8 Grams VintageVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Butter KnifeTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Children's Cup Mug * Antique * Pattern UnknownTiffany & Co. 925 Silver 2" Twisted Hoop EaringsTiffany Sterling Silver Nut Bolt Screw Pill BoxTiffany Apple Sterling Silver JarPalau 2013 $10 Tiffany Art 2013 - Venetian Gothic 2 Oz Silver CoinDesigner Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Heart Shape Bookmark Authentic Tiffany & Co. Spoon Silver 925 Peretti 76015