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    

Finest Tiffany & Co Spain Large Sterling Silver Aesthetic Photo Picture FrameHeintz Sterling On Bronze Wood Lined Box **** Tiffany Studios EraEarly Elegant Mid-19th Century Sterling Silver Tiffany Footed Tray Moore MarkAntique Tiffany & Co 1911 M Flemish Sterling Silver Set Of (10) Demitasse SpoonsTiffany & Co. - Authentic Fleur De Lis Key Xl 2.25" - 925 Sterling SilverHeintz Sterling On Bronze Calendar Frame ++ Tiffany Studios EraVintage Tiffany & Co. Clamshell Pillbox - Sterling SilverGorgeous C.1900 Superb Sterling Silver Tiffany Bowl Flowers Gadrooned AmericanVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Egg Cups W/ Pouch Set Of 4Vintage- Tiffany & Co. Sterling “you're A God” Paper WeightAmazing Tiffany Sterling Silver 1837 Bookmark T&co Book Mark BookmarkTiffany & Co. 30pc Serves 6 Sterling Silver Flatware 1911 M Flemish 46.70 TroyozAntique Tiffany & Co 1911 M Flemish Sterling Silver Set Of (11) Reg Dinner ForksTiffany & Co Tf4056 Sunglasses With Silver Key AccentsLg Rare Tiffany &co Sterling Silver 1895 "coloinal" Pattern 13" Punch Soup LadleSterling Silver Scrap Lot 510 Grams..tiffany Piece, .925(4) Beautiful Rare Vintage Sterling Silver 925 Tiffany & Co. Makers Goblets Heintz Sterling On Bronze Blotter Corners ** Tiffany Studios EraTiffany Makers Sterling Silver 18 X 14 Inch Platter/tray 71 Ounces, No Reserve Antique Tiffany & Co 1911 Flemish Sterling Silver Tomato Server Fancy Pierced 8"Tiffany Sterling Silver ~ Baby Child Picture Frame ~ Embossed Bear ~ Fabulous!(2) 2001 Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Key Rings Without Tags Sterling Tiffany And Co. Pill BoxAntique Tiffany & Co 1911 Flemish Sterling Silver Set (6) French Dinner KnivesTiffany And Company Boxes Bags And Silver Polishing Cloth LotVintage 50s Tiffany Sterling 925 Standing Picture Frame 3 3/8" X 2 1/2" No MonoTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Bowl Weight -1310 Gram!Antique 1895 Tiffany Sterling Silver 9-piece Dresser SetTwo Silver Money Clips ** (1) Tiffany T&co/morgan & (1) Trades 925 Sterling Tiffany & Co Tf4076 Rectangular Sunglasses W Silver Metal X Accents Rare Vintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Hair Clip BarretteAntique Tiffany & Co 1911 M Flemish Sterling Silver Sauce Ladle 7" No MonogramAntique Tiffany & Co 1911 M Flemish Sterling Silver Teaspoon 5-7/8" No MonogramAntique Tiffany & Co 1911 M Flemish Sterling Silver Master Butter Knife SpreaderRare Antique Antique Tiffany & Co "japanese" 9 Inch Ribbed Sterling Berry SpoonTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Scallop Shell Nut Candy Dish 22790 Dolphin FinialTiffany & Co. 22938 Sterling Silver Paul Revere Sugar Bowl 4.33 Oz, Not ScrapTiffany & Co Vintage Sterling Silver Iced Tea Mint Julep Spoon Straw StirrerAntique, Tiffany & Co, Sterling Silver, Miniature Chamberstick / Candlestick2 Tiffany & Co. 925 Sterling Silver Key Rings (2001)Set Of Six Medium Tiffany Sterling Silver & Gold Washed Interior Jefferson CupsVintage Tiffany & Co Modern Style Sterling Silver Faceted Bowl 16.69 OztTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Baby Spoon Gift Fireman Hat LadderSet Of Six Large Tiffany Sterling Silver & Gold Washed Interior Jefferson Cups$530 Tiffany & Co. Ladies Silver Sunglasses W/ Certificate100% Authentic Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Moon Baby Rattle No MonogramVintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Letter Opener - Retro Modern Design 8"Tiffany & Co 1975 Peretti Silver Open Heart Belt Buckle Scarf Accent W/box Tiffany & Co. Broom Corn Sterling Silver Ladle Serving SpoonVtg Tiffany & Co Makers Silver Soldered Corinthian Pillar Candlestick Holder JVintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Man In Moon Teething Rattle, 33.6gTiffany & Co. Makers 925 Sterling Silver Leaf Bookmark Antique Tiffany & Co 1911 M Flemish Sterling Silver Sugar Spoon 5¾" Serving Vtg2 Oz Silver Tiffany Art Nasrid Style Palau 2015Antique Tiffany & Co 1911 Flemish Sterling Silver Set (2) Serving Spoons No MonoSterling Silver Tiffany & Co 1837 Infant Baby Feeding Spoon ~6.25" MintTiffany & Co Sterling Silver .925 18kt 18 Kt .750 Gold Rope Twist Cuff LinksStunning Vintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Square Bookmark W/ Original Pouch!Tiffany Sterling Shell & Thread 5 1/2" Sugar Spoon 1905 C No Mono1998 Tiffany & Co "1837" Letter Opener. 925 Sterling W/pouch. No Reserve.