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Tiffany Mixed Metals Sterling Silver

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

In the 1880's, Tiffany's design chief Edward C. Moore began to manufacture pieces of silver that incorporated the use of multiple or mixed metals. The main body of an item would be made of all silver or all copper. Adornments of gold, silver, copper, Shakudo (Copper and Gold) or Sahib-ichi (Copper and Silver) would then be hand applied and attached by soldering and hammering them onto to the item's primary surface.

The first of these experimental mixed metals pieces were shown at the 1889 Paris Exposition and were received with admiration from all who viewed them. Perhaps due to the extreme additional cost of material and additional hours of labor of workmanship, the period of making these mixed metals items by Tiffany was not long lived. Today, Tiffany Mixed Metals pieces are amongst the rarest of collectible silver items in the market and are sometimes worth their weight in gold depending on how elaborate the item was made.

The themes of most of these mixed metals items were heavily influenced by Japanese Design. You will typically find many organic elements of nature including dragon flies, assorted insects, frogs, turtles, lily pads, fruits, flowers, bird species and many other elements of things usually found in a pond.

Shown below are several examples of Tiffany Mixed Metals Sterling Silver Items:

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Appraisal: Tiffany Mixed-Metal Wheelbarrow

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Appraisal:1878 Tiffany Mixed Metals Silver & Mokume Tray

We Buy! We want to purchase silver pieces like the ones shown above! If you have items that you'd like to sell, or even just want to get an idea on valuation

please click the email us button for a quote.

Please send us photos, measurements and item descriptions. Thanks, Greg Arbutine

Silver Museum Owner

P.S. Is it called Tiffany Mixed Metal or is it Tiffany Mixed Metals? I have seen most major auction houses and The Antiques Road Show refer to it as Tiffany Mixed Metal (singular.) However, to me it seems that because there are more than one metal that it should be plural as in Tiffany Mixed Metals. Frankly, the term mixed metal is not even that appropriate since mixing metals together creates an alloy as in example the mixing together of 92.5% silver together with 7.5% copper which creates the alloy "Sterling Silver." With applying gold and copper and other metals onto silver, you are not actually mixing and creating a new metal here.

It is more of an arranged marriage of metals or fusion of metals.

After tossing this around for a while in my head, I finally went to the Tiffany Bible: "Tiffany Silver" by Charles H. Carpenter Jr. On page 240 of the book, the heading reads "Mixed Metals." My conclusion is that the proper and definitive way to caption and title these pieces are as "Mixed Metals" and not "Mixed Metal."

However, obviously both are acceptable. Anyone out there want to vote to change the terminology to: "Married Metals" or "Fused Metals" or" Variegated Metals" or "Multiple Metals" or "Applied Metals" LOL

If the phrase "Mixed Metals" were to be renamed, what should the new terminology be called? Please cast your vote:

  • 0%Multiple Metals

  • 0%Fused Metals

  • 0%Variegated Metals

  • 0%Applied Metals

Article written by Greg Arbutine on 7-17-23

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Good to know!

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