An A to Z index of silver and tableware terminology plus other interesting things made in silver.

Absinthe Spoon

Barware.  A specialized spoon used as part of the absinthe (an anise flavored liqueur) drinking ritual.  The spoon has holes or slots in a flat bowl and usually has a notch in the handle where it rests on the rim of a glass.  A sugar cube is then placed atop the spoon and ice water is then slowly dripped onto the sugar cube, which then dissolves and falls through the slots into the liqueur.  Popular from the 1870s until 1915 when absinthe was banned throughout most of Europe; it has been making a resurgence since the early 1990s.

Acanthus Leaf

A broad-leafed plant of the Mediterranean region and a popular decorative motif.

Acid Etching

See Etching.  

Alaska Silver

A trademark of the Curtin & Clark Hardware Co. for silverplate and white metal goods.


A metal resulting from the mixture through a molten state of two or more compatible metals, usually formulated to increase desired properties, such as conductivity, durability, etc.

Alpaca or Alpacca Silver

German silver and nickel silver.  An alloy with no silver content.

Aluminum Silver

A trade name used by Daniel & Arter Globe Nevada Silver Works of Birmingham, England, given to wares made of silver-colored alloys.  Has no silver content.


The process of restoring silver or other metal to its original malleable state after having been worked by hammering, pressing or rolling which results in a distortion metal on a molecular level which results in brittleness.  The metal is heated to a high temperature and then cooled, restoring the metal to is original molecular state.


A stylized motif derived from the Greek honeysuckle or palmette design.


A shiny, brittle elemental crystal, resembling a metal in appearance, and commonly used in alloys.


A heavy iron or steel block with a smooth flat surface on which metals are hammered or shaped.

Apostle Spoon

A type of spoon that has as the finial a cast figure depicting one of the twelve apostles with the figure of Jesus being on a larger, master spoon.  The spoons originated in the early 15th century, and by the 16th century they were being given as baptismal gifts.  Each apostle is identified by his attribute:
Christ, the Master, a cross and an orb or a cross and a blessing
St. Jude, a carpenter’s square or a cross
St. John, a chalice or cup (the cup of sorrow)
St. James the Lesser, a fuller’s bat or club
St. James the Greater, a pilgrim’s staff
St. Bartholomew, a knife
St. Andrew, an X shaped cross
St. Philip, a staff
St. Peter, a key
St. Matthew, an axe (halberd)
St. Judas, a bag of money
St. Thomas, a spear
St. Simon, a saw

Apple Corer

A two piece utensil meant to be carried on the person consisting of a handle and a fluted corer.  When being used, the coring end is screwed into the handle; when not in use, the coring end hides inside the handle.  Most popular during the late 18th to mid-19th centuries.


The term given to decorations and borders made separately then affixed to the body of an object.


A person who is bound to serve a skilled tradesman for a number of years, usually seven, in order to
learn that trade.


A style of decoration consisting of intertwining foliage, scrolls and tendrils.


See Butler Finish.  


A trade name used by Daniel & Arter Globe Nevada Silver Works of Birmingham, England, given to wares made of silver-colored alloys.  Has no silver content.

Argentium Sterling

The trademark name of a newly patented silver alloy containing germanium which is impervious to firestain and is resistant to tarnish.  It contains the mandatory 92.5% fine silver, so is still sterling

Argyll (Argyle)

A type of gravy server, resembling a small coffee pot, that has a chamber for holding hot water to keep gravy warm.


A type of decoration depicting a family’s crest or coat of arms.


The testing of metals to determine their purity.


The analytical process of determining the fineness of a metal or alloy.

Assay Scrape

The portion of silver removed from an object by an assayer.  These marks are usually removed by
the silversmith during finishing, but they can be occasionally found on older pieces.


A line of art silver produced by Gorham 1901-1915, often incorporating other metals, ivory and glass into the pieces.  Athenic pieces were made using a combination of hand and machine work.


Having a tapering shape.

Austrian Silver

Nickel silver.  Has no silver content.