Real sterling silver flatware is made of an alloy containing 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper. The copper gives it strength, since pure silver is too soft. To be marked “sterling,” it must have a minimum of 92.5% pure silver.
Siverplate, on the other hand, is far less expensive, but can be just as ornate or decorative as sterling silver items. Silverplate contains only an outside layer of sterling silver. Silverplated flatware is made of a base metal like stainless steel, brass, or copper that has been electroplated with silver. The plating is thinner than a human hair. It can be marked as silverplate, EP, or EPNS. If there is no mark on a piece, then you can assume it is silverplate.
Flatware is a generic term applied to the knives, forks, spoons and other utensils people use to serve and eat food. Flatware may look like sterling silver, but it is not very valuable. Flatware is mass-manufactured and sold as cheap lookalikes to sterling silver items. We usually make a low token offer for such items. Basically, as we see it, you have a few options for silverplate: use it, recycle it, donate it, or sell it at a garage sale. Do not expect more than a few dollars.