For a simple, utilitarian object, the sterling silver tray is surprising tough to describe. In general, trays have opposing handles, except when they don’t, as in trays designed to hold a snuffer for a pair of candlesticks, or a legged tray shaped like the teapot that sits on top of it.

In the United States, the words “waiter” and “tray” go together like bread and butter, but in the U.K., a “waiter” is also a small salver, which is a tray that’s used exclusively to serve beverages and food to one’s guests. Salvers can be footed or flat, but their edges are usually raised so that one can pick the salver up when it’s sitting on a flat surface. After all, unlike many trays, salvers lack handles.

Then there’s the tazza, which can be considered a salver if it’s flat and sits on a round, center foot. But if the tazza is martini-glass shaped and known as a bon-bon tazza, then it’s not a salver, let alone a tray.

Confused? Not to worry: the words “tray” and “salver” are used almost interchangeably. Besides, in the end it’s the workmanship and artistry of these pieces that captivates sterling silver collectors.

Trays were produced in the Georgian style from the early 18th century to almost the middle of the 19th. English silver was a less-fussy antidote to French rococo, which was happening at the same time. In the Colonies, silversmiths like Paul Revere produced trays in the emerging Federal style, which often called for scalloped or lightly decorated borders surrounding plain interiors marked in their centers by the owner’s monogram.

During the Victorian Era, solid sterling-silver trays were less common than silver-plated ones, but by the late 1800s, the arrival of the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements renewed interest in hand-wrought silver forms.

The engraving, chasing, and casting techniques lavished on Art Nouveau sterling silver trays drew their inspiration from nature—Art Nouveau artisans were particularly preoccupied by floral patterns and motifs. Arts and Crafts silver, on the other hand, made craftsmanship its own aesthetic. Thus, trays by firms such as Kalo of Chicago were hand hammered and pierced, often decorated with nothing more than a round wire border and accented, perhaps, by a single bezel-set stone...

Sterling silver trays produced during the Art Deco era of the 1920s and ’30s heralded a return to a machine-made look, although the style looked forward to modernism rather than back to rococo. These trays typically used engraving sparingly. For example, designers like E. Barnard & Sons of London chose to surround their circular tray surfaces by clean, octagonal borders.

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    

Irish Sterling Salver Tray 1751 54oz Was $5800Superb Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Inkstand Inkwells Pen Tray Notes Flower 1905Large Lot Silver Plate Barware Martini Cocktail Shakers Tray Champagne Bucket ++Superb Estate Lot 3 Antique Silver Plate Salver Trays Barker Ellis James Dixon +Lovely Estate Coll. 4 Etched Silver Plate Expanding Footed Platter Bowl TrivetsPersian Silver Dish Tray Incense Burner Signed 26oz Vintage Gorham 925 Sterling Silver Oval Dish Tray 6.5" 128.5gVintage, George Iii Silver Salver, 1786, 985gm1694 William & Mary London Sterling Silver 10-1/8" Pedestal Serving Tray Great Antique Ornate Sterling Silver Figural Strawberry Serving Tray Superb Antique Victorian Sterling Silver Pierced Border Salver, 560 Grams, 1894Stunning Christofle Silver Plate Two Handled Lauzon Pattern TrayUltra Fine Signed Antique Persian Islamic Isfahan Solid Silver Bon Bon Dish TrayIndian Silver Tray Salver Jungle Hunt SignedAmazing Quality Estate Lot Antique Silver Plate Salver Serving Trays & BasketEstate Lot Of 4 Large Heavy Silver Plate Tea Coffee Entree Serving Platter TraysRare! Sterling Silver Royal Danish ~ Matching Platter & Tray ~ 1126g Of Silver!Antique Heavy Silver Massive Footed Victorian Vintage Banquet TrayKirk Sterling Pin Tray Hand Decorated C1905S. Kirk & Son Hand Decorated Sterling Silver 5a Small Tray With Knife!Antique Open Salt Cellar Individual .835 Sterling Silver Spoon Dip Tray VintageWonderful Vintage 5 Piece Silver Plated Teaset & Tray ~ Fabulous 'eastern' StyleMiniature Dollhouse Artisan Stuart Mccabe Sterling Silver Tray 1:12 Antique Sterling Silver 925 Cupid Angel Heart 77g Putti Footed Tray Dish Stamped Dollhouse Artisan Obadiah Fisher Sterling Silver Tea/coffee Pot And Tray 1:12 Chinese Export Silver Tray C1875 WoshingSuperb Large Portuguese Sterling Silver Tray Gadrooned Rim 1214grms Oporto C1940Sterling Silver Edge Wallace Rose Point Etched Glass Serving Tray Divided 4601-9Simply Stunning Silver Plated ' Chinoiserie ' Design Gallery Serving TrayRare Indian Sterling Silver Salver Tray Charles Nephew & Co Calcutta Ca 18558825) Serpentine Edged Galleried Silver Plate On Copper Tray 18" X 12.5"vintageSterling Silver - Tiffany & Co Makers Engraved 32g - Ash Tray Mn9581Vintage Solid Silver Tavern Scene 4.5" Ash Tray 103 Grams Of Silver Ca231Keurig Replacement Part B70 / B77 Reservoir Tank With Lid Silver & Drip TraySuperb Vintage Quality Viners Oval Silver Plated Chased Galleried Drinks TrayEstate Lot Very Large Antique Silver Plate Serving Platter Trays Barker Ellis ++Exceptional 1805 Chinese Export Porcelain Covered Entree Dish Platter $925 ValueSterling Cordial Set Tray And Cordials Over 185 Grams No Reserve 12Large Antique Silver Plate Oval Cloche Tray Cover With Donald Family CrestVintage Sterling Silver Coaster Miniature Tray Set Fisher 3" Salt Dip Cellar X2Vintage Solid Silver Pin Tray Hallmarked Birmingham 1959Antique Mappin And Webb Plated Silver Salver, Tray, C1848Vintage Sterling Silver Platter Plate B32 Scrap 11.9 OzLarge Sterling Silver Salver 1942 915gJames W. Tufts Boston Quadruple Silver Plate Footed Bread Tray 14 X 10Georgian Sterling Silver Pin Tray; London, 1809; Chased Foliate Motif!!Antique Sterling Silver Small Tray Hamilton & Inches Edinburgh 1911Dollhouse Miniature Sterling Silver Scalloped Serving Tray Mma-obadiah FisherVintage 1952 Santa Fe International Silver Soldered Heavy Duty 12" Serving TraySolid Silver Condement Tray Heavy Full Hallmarks 147.5 Grams 1899 Heath & MiddleVintage Silver Plated Oblong Tray (small) - George Hawksley & CoSterling Silver 925 Small Tray Spectacular Signed Museum Antique Persian Islamic Isfahan Solid Silver TrayVtg Mid Century Modern Art Deco Gorham Sterling Silver Laminated Black Tray 16"497.65 Grams.tiffany Sterling Silver TrayAntique 3 Solid Silver Pin Tray Dish British Historian Building Engraved . MarkeGeorg Jensen 15 1/2" Wine Bar Serving Tray Platter Denmark Silver Metal $175.00Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Shell Dish TrayHinsdale Junior Infant Welfare Board 1945 Sterling Presentation Tray 32 G Nr 2Antique C.1900 Sterling Silver Salver/footed Tray Jacobi & Jenkins Baltimore, Md