The silverpoint originally was a metal stylus with a soldered-on tip made of silver, which has been used by artists since antiquity in addition to the lead or lead-tin stylus.

The silverpoint was mostly used for small-format filigree drawings or preliminary drawings. These drawings were often further processed with drawing pen and ink. Unlike today's pencils, silverpoints can also be used to make very fine strokes that are more like engravings.

Albrecht Dürer used a silverpoint with a silver content roughly comparable to 925 sterling silver. The silverpoint of our days usually consists of the softer 999 fine silver. This corresponds approximately to a pencil with a hardness of between 6 and 8 H.