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    

Tiffany & Co. Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Cigarette Case Vintage Tiffany & Co. .925 Sterling Silver Snowflake Christmas OrnamentTiffany And Co. Crocodile Corkscrew Bottle Opener Sterling Silver -barware FlaskEstate Sterling Silver Tiffany Yoyo Stamp Box Floral Repousse Snuff Pill BoxesRare Tiffany & Co. Horticultural Salt Cellars / Condiment Dishes Silver - AspreyTiffany & Co. Top Black & Blue Silver Heart Rectangular Frame Eyeglasses Tf 20352. Highly Detailed Tiffany & Co. Flower Coffee Spoon Sterling Silver C1890#894 Tiffany Sterling Silver 925 Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Knife Gold Emblem7. Highly Detailed Tiffany & Co. Flower Coffee Spoon Sterling Silver C1890Tiffany & Co Sterling & 18k Gold Swiss Army Pocket Folding Knife W/pouch & BoxTiffany & Co. Shell & Thread Mustard Spoon Condiment Ladle ( Sterling Silver )Palau 2013 $10 Tiffany Art Venetian Gothic 2oz .999 Silver Coin Mintage 999 Rare10. Highly Detailed Tiffany & Co. Flower Coffee Spoon Sterling Silver C1890Tiffany Sterling Tea Set John Wendt C1850 85ozTiffany & Co. 925 Sterling Silver 18k Gold Swiss Army Knife Tiffany Solid Silver Porringer Quaitch Cup 1975 Hallmarked Sterling Rare Nr1. Highly Detailed Tiffany & Co. Flower Coffee Spoon Sterling Silver C18905. Highly Detailed Tiffany & Co. Flower Coffee Spoon Sterling Silver C1890Palau 2014 $10 Tiffany Art Baroque Dresden 2 Oz .999 Silver Coin *mintage 999*Tiffany & Co Antique 1890 Sterling Silver Cold Meat Fork Saratoga 3 Oz Case NiceTiffany&co Sterling Silver Elsa Peretti Eternal Circle Picture Frame 11 Vintage Tiffany & Co Sterling Repousse Salts MTiffany & Co Sterling Silver Baby Barbell Rattle/teether With Pouch 3" 30 Gr 4. Highly Detailed Tiffany & Co. Flower Coffee Spoon Sterling Silver C18909. Highly Detailed Tiffany & Co. Flower Coffee Spoon Sterling Silver C1890Tiffany & Co Silver Bag,jewelry Box , Pouch And Retail Shopping Bag Hobby ItemsTiffany & Co 1760 Ludwig Heck Repro Sterling .925 Small Beaker Cup - K2585Vintage Art Deco C1930 Hallmarked Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver ScissorsPlease Return To Tiffany & Co. New York Sterling Silver 925 Disc Tag Only Vintage Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Lattice Pierced Footed Plate Platter DishTiffany Sterling Elsa Peretti Baby SpoonAuthentic Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver 4" Sugar Tongs * Clinton Pattern C.1912Tiffany And Company Sterling Silver Barbell Baby Rattle .925Tiffany & Co Kings Pattern C1900 Sterling / Solid Silver Bon Bon Serving SpoonEarly Rare Tiffany And Co. Silver Plate Castle Fluid Lamp Cigar LighterVintage Sterling Silver Tiffany And Co. Oilcan Vermouth Dispenser; BarwareTiffany & Co. New York Thin Black Silver Heart Genuine Designer Glasses FramesTiffany & Co Solid Sterling Silver Olympian Teaspoon 1879 Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti Pink Sapphire Open Heart~sterlingAuthtentic Tiffany & Co. Rare 2004 Atlas Golf Tee Sterling Silver 925 W/boxTiffany & Co. Sterling Sandwich PlatterTiffany & Co 925 Sterling Silver Stud SetOriginal Tiffany & Co. Sterling Travel Suitcase Pill Box6. Highly Detailed Tiffany & Co. Flower Coffee Spoon Sterling Silver C1890Swiss Army Knife By Tiffany & Co. Sterling & 18k GoldVintage Sterling Silver Tiffany Phone DialerTiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Shell Dish Tray11 Sterling Butter Knives By Tiffany & Co., "colonial" Pattern, 280 GramsA Silver Braslet. With Tiffany & Co. New York. 925 Disk˜Tiffany & Co. Vintage Sterling Silver Bon Bon Bowl 22951!!3. Highly Detailed Tiffany & Co. Flower Coffee Spoon Sterling Silver C1890Tiffany & Co Antique 1890 Sterling Silver Serving Spoon Saratoga 2.8 Oz Case!!Antique Tiffany & Co. Sugar Tongs Sterling Silver Flatware No Monogram Tiffany & Co. Small Sterling Silver Fork˜ Sterling Spoon Lot With Bonus Tiffany & Co Ice Cream Knife Over 200 Grams Nr 41837 Tiffany Co Cuff 925 Sterling Silver Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Swiss Army Knife From 1837 Collection - Used -niceSterling Silver .925 Tiffany & Co. Golf Tee Pencil 5 1/8" Long