The vast majority of English, Scottish and Irish silver produced in the last years is stamped with either 4 or 5 symbols, known as hallmarks. The prime purpose of these marks is to show that the metal of the item upon which they are stamped is of a certain level of purity. The metal is tested and marked at special offices, regulated by the government, known as assay offices.
Only metal of the required standard will be marked. It is a form of consumer protection, whose origin goes back almost years.
French silver makers marks 20th century. A letter mark coinciding with the date of assay was first introduced in London in Such items are clearly marked.
See also the definitions page in this guide for additional information on hallmark components. Note at centre of the image at right the four elements of the hallmark. Detailed image of hallmark far right. Locate the assay office. If your item does not have one of the standard fineness marks, either traditional or numerical, then it is probably silver plate or is from another county.
Go no further. The date letter shows the year that assaying was carried out. The date letter example above represents
The marks on the bottom of a piece of silver can be an indication of the age, maker, and origin of the piece. This is a list of American silver marks and solid American silver. Other lists include silver-plated wares and pewter. It will not help you to identify other silver. Four or five small pictorial marks usually indicate England as the country of origin.
Since pre-Roman times gold and silver have been used as currency or as the counter deposit for Purity marks; Maker’s Marks; Date Letters; Town Marks.
A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing left to right ; 1. Standard Mark, 2. City Mark, 3. Date Letter, 4. Duty Mark and 5. Maker’s Mark This particular set of marks tells us that this item was made of Sterling, in the city of London, in the year , during the reign of King George III, and by the silversmith Thomas Wallis. Establish that it has one of the Silver Standard Marks , if not it is likely silverplate or from a different country.
Antique silver hallmarks have been used to control the quality of goods made of silver since the 14th century and the organisation that regulates the craft, Goldsmiths Hall, gave the world the term hallmark. This is to ensure it is of the required sterling silver standard and, provided it conforms to a standard, a series of symbols are stamped into each part of the item. Today and for the past few centuries, this stamp or silver hallmark has shown the place and year of manufacture of the assayed silver item, as well as the silversmith who made or sponsored the item.
The laws governing silver hallmarking are very strict and if an item does not comply with a standard the item will not be hallmarked and will probably be destroyed. A false silver hallmark has always been treated with the utmost severity by the law and in the past a silversmith was pilloried for their first offence, where they would be pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables. There was a simple reason for this seemingly Draconian behaviour in that the manufacture of silver and gold was allied to the minting of currency.
silver hallmarks indicating the purity of the silver, the mark of the manufacturer or silversmith, and other (optional) markings to indicate date of manufacture and.
A hallmark is an official stamp on gold, silver and other precious metal articles, impressed by an assay office to attest their standard. English gold and silver articles have been marked by some form of hallmark since the 13th Century. This duty was originally carried out at Goldsmiths hall in London. Today there are four assay offices in the UK, although there have been several others over the intervening years.
Please click here for more information on Assay Offices. Today a hallmark consists of three compulsory marks “” standard mark, assay office mark and sponsors’ mark , with two optional voluntary marks lion passant and date letter.
King Hiero II of Syracuse gave Archimedes the assignment to investigate the purity of a newly commissioned golden wreath, believing silver was added to the gold content. Although the technicalities in this legendary story are most likely based on myth, it does give an early account of fraud with precious metals. The German Crown in a Sun Hallmark. Image Courtesy of the Hallmark Research Institute. From medieval times to the midth century, hallmarks were used only as a means of consumer protection.
In those days the English government raised taxes on imported gold and silver work, with the exemption of antique items.
How to date silver, gold, and platinum by the assay and fineness marks stamped on these articles. The Fineness mark is a representation of the assayed purity of.
Marks on precious metals have been regulated by law since ancient times. From pharaohs, Roman emperors and continuing today, fineness, or standard marks, have been used to guarantee minimum amounts of precious metal in relation to non-precious metal. At least that’s the theory. But while most governments strictly monitor standard marks, very few regulate marks not related to the content of precious metals.
It is perfectly legal, for example, to stamp silver with trademarks or brand names of companies no longer in business or whose trademark is no longer registered. A new piece marked Unger Bros.
By it was deemed marks practical for items to be brought to Goldsmiths Hall for dating and a permanent assay office was date there. This date the origin of the term “hallmark”. In the leopard’s head mark was date as the mark of the London Assay Office.
lion passant denotes silver marked in England; lion rampant denotes silver The date letter shows the year that assaying was carried out.
Beginning with the date letter “f” the leopard head is not longer crowned see London mark. The duty mark is not longer struck. In case of “stressed hallmarks” can be difficult to be distinguished from each other. Each article will be focused on a specific cycle of British hallmarks, not taken in a chronological order, beginning from the London Assay Office. At the London Assay Office, each series refers to 20 years, starting with the date letter “a” and ending with the date letter “u” or “v”.
Only twenty letters of the alphabet have been used, excluding: j, v or u , w, x, y and z. Note that the last letter of each cycle can be an “u” or a “v”, but this is probably due to the fact that in the classic Latin language and alphabet there was no difference between “u” and “v”. There is only an exception in the 18th century, prior the introduction of the Britannia standard note 1 , when the cycle lasted 19 years and ended with the letter “t”.
Also the next cycle from onward lasted 19 years, but in this case all the 20 date letters have been used. Although the procedure followed from time to time on hallmarking the silver objects is not the scope of these articles, I will present and comment, for the same date letter, different examples of actual hallmarks as found on various items.
Its objective is to prevent mistakes in determining the date marks of the period subject matter of our article.
Silver Dictionary’ of A Small Collection of Antique Silver and Objects of vertu , a pages richly illustrated website offering all you need to know about antique silver, sterling silver, silverplate, Sheffield plate, electroplate silver, silverware, flatware, tea services and tea complements, marks and hallmarks, articles, books, auction catalogs, famous silversmiths Tiffany, Gorham, Jensen, Elkington , history, oddities In Scotland the craft was theoretically supervised by the Edinburgh Goldsmiths’ Incorporation, but in practice its influence outside the capital was limited and a plethora di unofficial Scottish Provincial marks was created.
London leopard’s head crowned until
Egypt: Egipt, , silver hallmark,chicken, arabic letter for silver Present, National mark | Arabic characters | Arabic date letter
Over the next 50 years, Birks expanded by buying up established jewellers across the country. They also took over their rivals in manufacturing until they had a virtual monopoly on the production and sale of sterling silverware in Canada. Birks acquired several more designs from Gorham and other manufacturers later in the century and also designed a few of their own patterns like Tudor and Laurentian.
Birks manufactured their own flatware and some of their hollowware in their factory in Montreal up until the early s when the factory was closed and production was moved offshore. In the early part of the century, the factory employed nearly people. Some of their hollowware was purchased from manufacturers in the UK and the US and sold under the Birks label. Birks sterling marks varied throughout their history which helps us to date their pieces.
In Birks received permission from the London assay office to mark their sterling silver with a date letter that corresponded to the London assay office date letter. They produced a wide range of silver hollowware and flatware. Ellis was taken over by Birks in Roden Brothers produced a wide range of silver hollowware and flatware in traditional English styles. Goldsmiths Stock Company of Canada were their exclusive selling agents from to , they were taken over by Birks in