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    

Signed Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver 925 Monkey Straw W/ Original Box & Pouch NrRare Tiffany & Co. C.1930 Sterling Silver Harlequin Snake Handle Sugar Tongs1900s Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 3-pc Tea Set - Chrysanthemum PatternTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 1837 Band Size 6.5 No Reserve Pair Of Rare Antique Tiffany Company Silversmiths Sterling Silver 2 CandlestickAntique Tiffany & Co #15376 Repousse Sterling Silver Tea Ball Strainer 31gmTiffany & Co Rare Silver 18k Gold Signature X Cuff LinksPalau $10 Tiffany Art 2012 - Neoclassicism 2 Oz Silver Coin With Stained GlassEstate- Tiffany & Co./ Cartier/ Gold/ Silver/ Ancient Coins/ Banknotes/$16,650+Tiffany & Company Sterling Silver 4 X 3 Picture Frame4 Tiffany & Co Audubon Pattern Sterling Silver Dessert Forks 6-3/4"Lg. Tiffany & Co Audubon Pattern Sterling Silver - Tomato Server 8"Tiffany & Co. Titanium & Sterling Mens Cuff Links No Box Or Bag Vintage Tiffany & Co. Hampton Sterling Silver Stainless Steel 8" Letter OpenerSterling Silver Tiffany Centerpiece Compote Pedestal BowlTiffany & Co Silver Groove Tie Clip /bar Paloma Picasso Signed /art Deco StyleVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 24 1/2" Long Tray, 3,950 GramsSet Of 4 Tiffany & Co Audubon Pattern Sterling Silver Teaspoons 6-1/4"3 Vintage Tiffany & Co Angela Cummings Twisted Body Ink Pens In Sterling SilverTiffany Sterling Acorn Pill Box Thimble Case Snuff Box No ReservePalau $10 Tiffany Art 2014 10th Anniversary - Baroque Dresden 2 Oz Silver CoinAntique Tiffany Sterling Silver Octagonal Double Handle Bonbon Bowl,martin Hall Antique Estate Tiffany & Co. C. 1854-1869 Sterling Silver Tea Set 4212 GramsLg. Tiffany & Co Audubon Pattern Sterling Silver - Gravy LadleVintage "tiffany & Co." St. James Sterling Silver Lobster Pick With Monogram Nr3 Tiffany & Co Audubon Pattern Sterling Silver Dessert Forks 6-3/4"Beautiful Vintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Square Pillbox Pill Box Nr!Jim Aparo 1967 Tiffany Sinn, C.i.a. Sweetheart Original Art-silver Age!Victorinox/tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Utility Knife (swiss Army Knife)Antique Tiffany Sterling Silver Box 21075d Initials "pjp"4 Tiffany Sterling Silver Lap Over Edge Coffee Spoons Birds Insect Vermeil BowlsVintage "tiffany & Co." Sterling Silver Small Platter With Monogram No ReserveSet Of 6 Sterling Silver Tiffany & Co Shell & Thread Grapefruit Spoons Gold WashTiffany & Co Silver Mercury Glass Pillar Candle Holder 14.25"Antique 1878 Sterling Silver Floral Repousse Tiffany & Co Olympian Diana SpoonAntique Tiffany & Co. (12) Sterling Silver Butter Knives Shell & Thread Pat 1905Vintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Straws Set Of 4Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti Open Heart Sterling Silver Baby Feeding Spoon 925 Ita4 Tiffany Sterling Silver Lap Over Edge Coffee Spoons Floral With Vermeil Bowls4 Tiffany Sterling Silver Lap Over Edge Coffee Spoons Crab Lobster Fish VermeilTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Spoon's .925 Gold Washed 4 1/8", 10 Spoon SetRare Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Lighter Basket Weave PatternSuperb Antique Tiffany Silver Bowl C.1912 Vintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Maple Leaf Bookmark, Estate Clip, No Res! Palau 2014 $10 Tiffany Art Baroque Dresden 2 Oz .999 Silver Coin *mintage 999*Nib Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Baby Spoon And Fork Set!!!!Set Of 4 Tiffany & Co Audubon Pattern Sterling Silver Teaspoons 6-1/4"Antique Tiffany & Co. Makers M Sterling Silver Tea StrainerLarge Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Serving Spoon Richelieu Pattern 8 1/2" LongTiffany & Co Sterling Picture Frame Snowflakes & Stars Vintage Christmas 2.5" SqTiffany Sterling Silver Elsa Peretti Padova Baby Feeding SpoonTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Turtle Pill Box 4 1/3 Inches LongVintage Tiffany Sterling Silver Orchid Vase, Genuine, DiscontinuedTiffany, Sterling Silver Compact Made Tiffany & Co, Sterling Silver Makeup CaseAntique Tiffany & Co. 1884 "wave Edge" Sterling Silver Serving Spoon 69.5 GramsTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Leaf Mint Julep Iced Tea Spoon Straw Rare W/ PouchAuthentic Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Vermouth Oil Can Dropper 39g Sz 4" W/ CapPr Tiffany & Co Silver Soldered Floral Repousse Footed Sweet Meet Dishes Nr LcsTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Holiday Star Tree Decorative Hanging OrnamentAuthentic Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Picture Photo Frame Plaid Check Holiday