As the name suggests, flatware usually refers to serving and eating utensils such as forks, knives, and spoons that have not been coated in actual silver.
While the term silverware also refers to eating and serving utensils such as knives, spoons, and forks, items bearing this description will be manufactured from various grades of silver (regular flatware is normally manufactured from various grades of stainless steel).
Pure silver provides a unique benefit in that it has the ability to kill germs better than any other type of metal. This is one reason why it was so regularly used in the production of eating utensils until the late 1800s. Since then, it has become prohibitively expensive to produce genuine silverware anymore – except in cases where it is specially ordered.