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
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.
To find Kovels’ silver hallmarks’ database, go to Look for your mark. The word STERLING indicates Ireland as well as America. COIN Silversmiths in Baltimore, Maryland, had a maker-date system from to
Our illustrated guide highlights the subtle ways you can discover the origins of any piece of silver. One of the most common inquiries at antique shows often has to do with authenticity: How do you know whether or not something is made of real silver? Collectors aren’t always looking for pure sterling silver , per se, but they should be able to know the value and composition of the pieces they’re buying. Most of the time, you can find the information you’re looking for by simply taking a closer look at the teaspoon , fish fork, ice cream saw, or cheese scoup that you’re eyeing.
More often than not, you can find an indented mark or a series of marks that can tell you a lot about the item: what it’s made of, where it was made, when, and by whom. You can find many different kinds of silver in the marketplace today. Some of the oldest American silver is “coin,” which contains at least Mint after the American Revolution-which rose to 90 percent in the years after Sterling, on the other hand, must be at least This standard Many people think of coin as much less valuable than sterling , but it has only about two percent less silver and, in some rare cases, may even contain more.
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. A – Sterling.
Sheffield Date Letter Chart – Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers’ Marks. August Sheffield Date Letters on Antique Sterling – Online.
To be sold as Silver or any other precious metal, all finished items must undergo tests carried out by the assay office. There are four Assay offices in the UK London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh and each undertakes tests to ascertain the precise metal content of the items delivered to it to ensure they comply with the law. The Sterling Silver standard requires all of the metal making up an item to contain parts pure Silver to the When an article of Silver doesn’t comply with the required standard the assay offices can and do destroy the object and the Silversmith has some explaining to do.
Although it has to be said that most cases are a result of miscalculation. For example, if the clip of a pen is not made of silver, but the rest of the pen is, then the Assay office would not hallmark the object if by their calculation the whole pen clip an all melted down would not still contain part pure silver. In , a new format of English hallmarking on objects of Sterling Silver was initiated consisting of a maker’s mark, the assay office insignia and a symbol.
The standardising of the date letter sequence, shared by all four remaining assay offices in Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield, were introduced to bring the UK system closer in line with other European Union standards.
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 London leopard’s head uncrowned present. London lion head erased. Birmingham anchor present.
Reed & Barton Sterling Date Marks – Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers’ Marks. Reed & Barton Date Marks – Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks.
The vast majority of English, Scottish and Irish silver produced in the last years is stamped with either four or five 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. There are so many different hallmarks found on British silver that to know all of them would be impossible. Fortunately, with the use of a single reference book, it is possible for even a complete novice to decipher the vast majority.
This pocket sized reference contains all of the marks that one is likely to encounter on a regular basis. Armed with this book, the process of reading these marks can be split into the 5 simple steps shown below. It can be purchased directly from there or from any major book seller. Simply flick through the book, looking at the top of the tables of marks to remind yourself if you forget.
If you can find one of these marks, then you know that the item is British silver and you can move onto stage 2. Note that Dublin is unique in using the same mark for the town mark and the standard mark. This mark is only struck once.
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.
Hallmarks on British & Irish Silver. To date your silver from its hallmark first identify the assay office (e.g. anchor for Birmingham, leopard’s head for London, etc.).
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. Locate and identify the City Mark.
Note whether it has a sovereign’s head Duty Mark – or not. The sovereign’s head, or lack thereof, will narrow the date range. Having identified the city mark, click on the link to its date chart and find your Date Letter. Identify the Maker’s Mark , they are listed by city and in alphabetical order by the first initial.
Hallmarks are one of the most important factors in identifying antique silver jewelry, flatware, and other items. These small stamped symbols on the back or underside of silver items can tell you the purity of the silver, the manufacturer of the piece, and sometimes even the date it was made. Understanding how to read hallmarks is an important skill for any antiques enthusiast. If you have a piece of silver jewelry or a household item you’d like to identify, there’s a process that can help.
Follow these steps to learn about your item.
Because Sterling Silver is % silver, the common purity mark used today is “” Most vintage Sterling Silver pieces have the older marks: “.
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. This presents obvious problems for those interested in antique and collectible silver and silver plate. Almost all the pieces we’ll be discussing are made for the antique reproduction trade.
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.
A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing (left to right); rd Mark, Mark, Letter, Mark and ‘s Mark. This set of.
By it was deemed more practical for items dating be brought to Goldsmiths Hall letters assay and a permanent assay office was established there. This is the origin of dating term “hallmark”. In the leopard’s head mark was adopted as the mark of the London Assay Office. A letter mark coinciding with the date of assay was first introduced in London in.
Originally it signified the Assay Master responsible for testing and marking the silver. The date letters were changed on the day silver the Goldsmith’s Guild wardens were elected, originally St Dunstan’s Day 19 May until the Marks and 29 May thereafter. The Hallmarking Act of brought the chart 4 British Assay Offices London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh into line with each other date the date letter now changing from on 1 January each year.
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, marks, Sheffield plate, electroplate silver, silverware, flatware, tea services and silver complements, marks and hallmarks, articles, books, auction catalogs, famous silversmiths Tiffany, Silver, Jensen, Elkington , history, oddities. In some countries, the testing of precious metal objects and marking of purity is controlled by a national assay office.
Depending on the national legislation the use of hallmarks may be compulsory, voluntary or provided by a manufacturer’s declaration. The Swedish hallmarking system is organized on a compulsory base. Chart control and standardisation of silver fineness in Sweden began in.
Diane is a lover of all things beautiful; music, art, antiques and nature. Her guides bring insight to topics she cares passionately about. British sterling silver hallmarks help to identify the maker and year of manufacture of sterling silver items produced by Great Britain. Understanding and learning to recognize these marks can help you avoid costly mistakes in both the purchase and sale of antique English silver.
This guide will explain what each mark means and how to find them on a piece of antique British sterling silver. I’ve been buying and selling antique silver for many years now.
The first article of the series dealing with LONDON HALLMARKS: (XVI real hallmarks stuck on wrought silver plate of the current standard (sterling, Grouped hallmarks with the pointed base variant punch enclosing the date.
The date letter and the traditional fineness marks are no longer compulsory components of the hallmark. However, we believe that the date letter is a very important component of the hallmark, as it is the easiest way to date an item and research has shown that most of our customers still want to see the traditional fineness mark on the hallmark. Unlike some of the other UK assay offices, we do not charge any extra to apply the two non-compulsory marks.
Those only wanting the compulsory marks applied should indicate this on the hallnote. Read more about the other legally recognised marks in the UK, International Convention marks, and Commemorative marks here. Also known as Maker’s Mark. This is the registered mark of the company or person that submitted the article for hallmarking. It is formed of initials of that person or company inside a shield shape.
The shield shape varies, and a minimum of two initials must be included. Every one is unique. When you create your punch with us, you join a register of makers stretching back centuries. Register for your punch here.
Before you go, please sign up to be the first to hear about our promotions, vintage decor and sparking new jewellery! Georgian Sterling Silver Hallmarks – Georgian silver pieces are often hallmarked, this was a constant practice by all silversmiths and manufacturers to assure the quality of the fabrication, guaranteeing that the sterling grade was There are five types of marks which are present on English sterling silver:.
A date mark depicts the year a piece was tested. A letter of the alphabet is used, this letter is assigned to a year — acute attention should be paid as letters were used in both lowercase and capital form as well as in different shapes of punches, fonts and backgrounds.
I recently bought a lovely sterling hinged cuff. It has hallmarks that I assumed were British. It has an anchor, the walking lion, –but instead of a letter date mark–it.
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. However until the system had been more or less the same for years. A lion rampant or thistle represents the Sterling standard in Scotland and a harp crowned in Ireland.
Today, the metal purity is tested, by taking a scrape from each article and subjecting the scrape to an electronic analysis. In the past, several other methods were used.