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 Sterling Acorn Thimble Case & Silver Thimble * Hallmarked 1958Lot Of 925 Sterling Silver Jewellery Genuine Tiffany, Hot Diamonds Etc Tiffany & Co Antique Acorn Pill Box Sterling Silver Classic!Large Tiffany & Co Solid Sterling Silver "leaf" Dish/ Dia 24 Cm/ 466 GTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver And Diamond CrossTiffany & Co. Rare Vintage 925 Sterling Silver Cigar Cutter Nov29a5Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver And Gold Swiss Army Knife - New In BoxTiffany & Co Sterling Makers Baby Cup - 23498 2 1/2" Tall - No MonogramEarly 1850's Tiffany Broadway Coin Silver Guilloche Design Cup Gale & WillisTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver & Gold Swisschamp - Mint In BoxTiffany & Co. Olympian Sterling Silver Dinner ForkVictorinox Classic Sd Tiffany Sterling Silver Swiss Army Knife SakSterling Silver - Tiffany & Co Sea Shell Engravable - Bottle Decanter TagTiffany & Co Silver Peretti Open Heart Baby Rattle Teether HeirloomTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Hand Hammered Cigarette CaseSterling Silver Scrap Or Not Lot Of Mixed Jewelry With 1 Tiffany & Co !!!!!!!!Tiffany & Co Solid Silver Perfume/scent Bottle & Funnel Boxed Xmas GiftTiffany & Co. Olympian Sterling Silver Tea SpoonVery Rare Tiffany & Company Aesthtic Sterling Silver Bucket Pail Salt CellarsVintage Sterling Tiffany & Co. Measuring Tape! Collectible Piece! #p119Antique Vtg Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Salt Shaker Pepper Grinder Set LotTiffany & Co 925 Sterling Silver Woven Band Size 7Vintage Tiffany & Co Sterling 148.6 Grams Baby/childs Cup Sterling Silver .925 Tiffany & Co. Olympian Sterling Silver KnifeTiffany & Co. Solid Sterling Silver T 658 Detailed Grape Shears Scissors HeavyAuth 2000 Tiffany &co Solid 925 Sterling Silver/18k Yellow Gold Heart1911 Tiffany & Co. Signed Sterling Mesh Purse Bag Silver2016 Tiffany Art Jain Art .999 2oz Silver Coin - $10 Palau 999 MintageTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Picture Frame 5"x7" Never Used With Box & TissueZippo Lighter Tiffany & Company Sterling Silver (.925) Italy Tiffany & Company Sterling Silver Yo-yoTiffany & Co Deco Sterling Silver Gilt Guilloche Toothbrush Holder Talc ShakerPalau 2016 $10 Tiffany Art - Jain Temple India 2 Oz Silver Coin Limit - 999 PcsDesigner Signed Tiffany & Co Vintage Solid .925 Sterling Silver Belt Buckle NrVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Hand Mirror With Bag - Great Condition!Heavy Tiffany & Co. Sterling Oval BowlTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Vase - Rare Louis Comfort Tiffany Collection - Nr!Antique Vintage Tiffany & Co 925-1000 Solid Sterling Silver Pierced Bowl - 190gAntique Tiffany & Co Makers Sterling Silver Scissor Handle Cigar CutterTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Mint Julep Cup (162.2 Grams)Tiffany & Co. 1837 925 Classic Sd Victorinox Sterling Swiss Knife With Box1871 Victorian Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Palm Pattern Heart Bon Bon SpoonOrnate Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 925 & 18k 750 Swiss Army Knife VictorinoxVintage Tiffany & Co 925 Sterling Silver Compact W/mirror + Insert Hallmarked Large Vintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 8x10 Photo Frame W/ Wood BackingTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Pierced Oval Bowl 18197 B Makers 669 925-1000 MTiffany & Co ~ 925 Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Hoops ~ Free S/hTiffany & Co Heart Feeding Spoon, 22619543, Nib, Sterling Silver Baby Spoon TcoVintage Art Deco Tiffany & Co Makers Sterling Silver Shot Glass100% Authentic Tiffany & Co. Pill Box Made Of Sterling Silver VintageVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Atlas Heavy Cigar Tube Rare Perfect GiftVintage Stirling Silver Tiffany Mint Julep Cup Tumbler 22876 L Monogram "r"Tiffany & Co. 1999 Collection 925 Silver Snowflake Nov29a4Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Open Book Design Bookmark In BoxTiffany Solid Silver Caddy Spoon C 1925Signed Tiffany & Co Makers Sterling Silver 925 Spool Thimble Trinket Pill Box NrTiffany & Co Christmas Ornament: Large Porcelain Bell W/ Silver ClapperVintage Tiffany & Co. Makers Sterling Silver Maple Leaf BookmarkVintage Sterling Silver Tiffany And Company Butterfly Page Marker1984 Tiffany & Co Elsa Peretti Sterling Silver Equestrian Vintage Belt Buckle