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    

Original Tiffany & Co Sterling Silver Ring Tray Cupid Cherub Puti & Leaves NrFine 1763 Elizabeth Cooke Georgian Sterling Silver Salver Tray Wine Bottle StandV.fine 1878 Victorian London Sterling Silver Floral Repousse Footed Platter TrayMuseum Worthy Finest Antique Persian Islamic Solid Silver Hallmarked Tray 1056gV.fine C1761 Georgian London Sterling Silver Armorial Salver Serving Tray R RuggAmazing Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Completely Hand Made Repousse Platter TrayV.nice 1834 William Iv London Sterling Silver Dragon Armorial Footed Salver TrayRare Pair 1836 Barnard Victorian Sterling Silver Armorial Footed Salver TraysSuperb C1860 Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Etched Footed Salver Serving Tray #1George Iii Silver Salver, 1771, 237gmLarge Wakely Wheeler Edwardian 1901 Hallmarked Silver Salver 947g Superb C1860 Tiffany & Co. Sterling Silver Etched Butterflys Salver Serving TrayFine 1911 Walker & Hall Art Nouveau Sterling Silver Repousse Vanity Dresser TraySuperb Early Antique Georgian L1787 Solid Silver Teapot Salver Stand Eliz Jones Antique Chinese Carved Jade Pendant Set In Enameled Silver Tray W DragonsJapanese Sterling Cocktail Set Pitcher Beakers Tray Signed Beautiful Fine Large Antique Islamic Indian Kashmiri Solid Silver Tray 920 GramsAn Asprey Retailed 1936 Pair "his & Hers" Breakfast Tray Sold Silver Toast RacksAntique Victorian Sterling Silver Salver, 330g Grams, 1846, Crested Kirk Sterling Tray Hand Decorated Leaf And Floral Made C1905Vintage 6 Piece Italian Sterling Silver Tea & Coffee Set, Tutunzi Roma W/trayBirks Vintage 1955 47.9ozt Sterling 925 Silver Serving Platter Tray Large Antique Islamic Silver Inlay Tray Cairo Ware Antique Vintage Sheffield Silverplate Butlers Serving Tray Platter Silver PlateStunning Large Heavy 345g Antique 1903 Solid Silver Embossed Cherubs Angels TrayLarge Vintage Silver Plated Serving Tray Downton Abbey Style Superb ConditionFine Antique Chinese Carved Hardwood Bamboo Silver Inlaid Large Tray Qing EraEnglish Sterling Tea Tray Geo Iii Form James Dixon 1898 85 OzLarge + Heavy Old Japanese Sterling Silver Tea Coffee Set W Tray - 174 Oz !!!English Sterling Silver Ink Stand Tray Satan Masks Hennell 1790Stieff Sterling Silver Lot Repousse Tray Buffer & Lids Scrap 210.4gSpectacular C.1900 Qajar Large Antique Solid Silver 84 Persian Silver Tray 1650gGorham Sterling Butter Dish Tray Japanese Taste 1872 20ozAntique Tiffany & Co 925 Sterling Silver Serving Tray PlatterAntique 1912 Nouveau 925 Sterling Silver Big Hand Made Tiffany & Co Platter Tray4 Pc Sterling Silver Tea W/ Ep Tray Reed & Barton .925 Set 670Fine Antique Chinese Mk Export Sterling Silver Footed Floral Serving Tray Large Vintage Gallery Silver Plated Tray Shells On Handles Downton Abbey StyleSuperb 6" ~ Silver Plated ~ Lions Head ~ Card / Gratuity Tray / TroughAntique 18thc Rare Georgian Solid Silver Salver Tray, R Abercromby C.1741Indian Silver Tray Cobra Signed Tpr & Co. Bombay 58oz Nice Spanish Sterling Silver Lady Tray For Rings With Five-pointed StarBeautiful Silver Plated Six Person Egg Set Tray Spoons & Cups Stamped EpnsMiniature, Solid Silver Tea Set On Tray, 1967Antique Solid Sterling Silver~pin Tray~nut Bon Bon Dish Mint Bowl~butter PatVintage Tiffany Sterling Silver Pierced Pedestal Tray Compote Cake Stand Vintage 925 Sterling Silver Ash Tray 72g 3 1/2" X 3/4"Vintage Silver Plate Wallace Baroque Tea Coffee Set Service W/ Large Tray Vintage Manchester Sterling Silver Bread Tray Bowl Platter 200g No ScrapVery Large Vintage Silver Plate On Copper Serving Tray Downton Abbey StyleStunning Austrian Silver Salver - C1900 - 28ozSuperb 6" ~ Georgian ~ Sheffield Silver Plate ~ Card Tray ~ C1800Vintage Sheffield Silver Plated Oval Gallery Serving Tray ~unused ~ 16" X 10"Schofield Sterling 6 3/8” Floral Repousse Plate Tray 1840 No Monogram 5.495 Ozt2001 Arthur Court Silver Aluminum 4 Dish Grape Leaves Condiment Serving Tray A Fine Britannia Standard (.958) Solid Silver Pen Tray London 1927.Vintage Silver Plate Engraved Floral Large Round Serving Dish/tray, Raised RimNice Large Vintage Viners Silver Plate Tray Ball & Claw Feet Downton Abbey StyleBeautiful Antique Silver Plated Chased Birds Claw Footed Drinks TrayGorham 6 Piece Sterling Silver Coffee/tea Service Set & Tray