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

Most watched eBay auctions    

Vintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Pitcher Jug Scholar Scrap 564 GramsAuthentic! Tiffany & Co. Tf 3021 6037/t3 Woman Sunglasses Aviator Silver Br37/16Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Figural Swan BookmarkGenuine Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver And 18k Gold Cross. Fast Same Day Shipping!Rare Antique Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Tea Ball Infuser Strainer SignedGreat 96pcs. Tiffany & Co. Faneuil Pattern Sterling Silver Flatware Set 202 Ozs.Rare Antique Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Repousse Tea Strainer Infuser SignedPalau 2016 $10 Tiffany Art - Jain Temple India 2 Oz Silver Coin Limit - 999 PcsFine Antique 1890s Tiffany & Co Heavy Sterling Silver Ornate Serving Bowl 294.5gTiffany And Co. Makers Sterling Silver Dish 166 K1970's Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Box Calculator Sharp El 8009sVintage "tiffany & Co." Tomato Pattern Sterling Silver Large Serving Spoon NrVintage Tiffany & Co. Magifying Glass On Ghain, Italy 925 Sterling Silver RareTiffany & Company T&c Audubon Pattern Sterling 6 Dinner Forks No Res Free Ship!Tiffany & Company T&c Audubon Pattern Sterling 4 Iced Tea Spoons With ClothTiffany & Company T&c Audubon Pattern Sterling 6 Spoons Free Shipping No Res!Tiffany & Company T&c Audubon Pattern Sterling 6 Dinner Knives No Res Free Ship!Lot Of Tiffany & Co. And Anna Beck Jewelry SilverTiffany & Co. Antique 925 Sterling Silver Pattern Berry Small Fork Lot Of 2Tiffany & Company T&c Audubon Pattern Sterling 6 Spoons Free Shipping No Res!Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti Vintage 1978 Sterling Silver CuffTiffany & Company T&c Audubon Pattern Sterling 6 Salad Forks No Res Free Ship!Tiffany & Co. Sterling Chrysanthemum Pattern Asparagus Tongs Script MonoAntique Tiffany & Company Sterling Silver Pill Box AcornTiffany & Co Set Of 12 Clinton Sterling Silver Soup Bouillon SpoonsRare Antique Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Acorn Pill Box / ContainerTiffany & Company T&c Audubon Pattern Sterling Serving Spoon Free Ship No Res!Tiffany Bamboo Sterling Fork 7 1/2"Tiffany Sterling Sillver And 18k Gold Swiss Army Knife Authentic Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Italy Picture Photo Portrait FrameAntique Tiffany & Co. William Comyns & Sons London 1950 Bowl In Sterling SilverTiffany And Co Necklaces 925 Fine SilverTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Photo Frame Picture FrameSet Of 8 Tiffany Co Sterling Silver Japanese Dinner KnivesTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Flatware Silverware Single 6 Piece SetTiffany & Co Army Knife Streamerica Rare Sterling Silver Swiss Victorinox NrAuthentic Vintage Tiffany Sterling Silver Belt BuckleTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Key To My Heart LocketTiffany & Co Silver Carl L Norden Inscribed Letter Opener E Production Award1942Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Suitcase Luggage Travel Pill Box! GenuineTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 925 Baby Cup Noblespirit No Reserve {3970} Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Clipit Paper CutterTiffany & Company T&c Audubon Pattern Sterling Handled Carving Knife Free Ship!Tiffany And Co Sterling Silver Racing Cars Feeding Spoon Baby GiftTiffany & Co Sterling Silver English King 7" Table SpoonTiffany Bamboo Sterling Teaspoon 5 3/4"Tiffany & Co Makers Sterling Silver Baby Cup 23245 With PouchTiffany & Company T&c Audubon Pattern Sterling Single Butter Knife Spreader Rococo Antique C. 1920's Sterling Silver Tiffany & Co. Swiss 8 Day Travel ClockVintage Tiffany Sterling Silver Basket/tooth Pick Holder 49.80 Grams. Vintage!Tiffany & Co. English King Sterling Silver ForkTiffany & Co. English King Sterling Silver Table Spoon 2 Antique Tiffany - Richelieu Pattern Sterling Silver Master Salt Spoons New Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 12" Chippendale Round Tray Tiffany & Co Sterling Flatware Hampton Pattern Three PiecesVintage Tiffany Sterling Silver Shoehorn-made In Italy- Folds For TravelTiffany Sterling CupTiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti Sterling Silver Heart Bookmark, No EngravingVintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Baby Christening Cup/mug (with Box & Pouch)Authentic Tiffany & Co. Baby Heart Spoon In Sterling Silver (never Used)