A silver object that is to be sold commercially is, in most countries, stamped with one or more 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 additional information about the piece. In some countries, the testing of silver objects and marking of purity is controlled by a national assayer’s office. Hallmarks are applied with a hammer and punch, a process that leaves sharp edges and spurs of metal. Therefore, hallmarking is generally done before the piece goes for its final polishing. The hallmark for sterling silver varies from nation to nation, often using distinctive historic symbols, although Dutch and UK Assay offices no longer strike their traditional hallmarks exclusively in their own territories and undertake assay in other countries using marks that are the same as those used domestically. One of the most highly structured hallmarking systems in the world is that of the United Kingdom, Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland , and Ireland. These five nations have, historically, provided a wealth of information about a piece through their series of applied punches. Since the year , the French assay mark for items made of solid silver is the head of the goddess Minerva in profile.
Confusing Marks on Sterling Silver and Silver Plate
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London silver marks: marks and hallmarks of English silver, Date letter, in cycles of twenty letters of the alphabet of different shape identifies the year in which.
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. Paying taxes has never been on the priority list of entrepreneurs and some gold and silversmiths in Germany and the Netherlands started stamping marks on their jewelry and silver work that mimicked antique hallmarks.
Hallmarks on Period Jewelry
Watching the experts at antique roadshows or on auction house valuation days, you probably wonder just how they get so much information about a teacup, vase or a piece of silver simply by turning the item upside down. The fact is the markings that are stamped, painted or impressed on the underside of most antique items can help you tell a great deal about a piece other than just who made it. The name of the pottery manufacturer and an approximate date of manufacture can be discovered if the piece of pottery has a backstamp or the silver item has a hallmark.
A makers mark that they have learned over many years spent researching and studying antique marks. Dating an antique is a little like detective work.
Beginning in , neither date marks nor the lion passant were required on silver made and sold in England. Date marks are now optional; the standard mark.
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 Prior to the date letter varied for every office.
After that it became uniform for every city. Since , the date letter has been optional. Most silver and goldsmiths making bespoke pieces will still opt to use the date letter, however for mass produced silver items it saves the importers money to leave it off. It should have the initials within a shield. The item may also have some commemorative or duty marks.
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.
Other hallmarks can also include Swedish year markings and The Designer of a later date, however, in some cases other marks, including the silver content.
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. A letter mark coinciding with the date of assay was first introduced in Marks in. Originally it signified the Assay Master responsible for testing and marking the silver. The date letters were changed on the day that the Goldsmith’s Guild wardens were elected, originally St Dunstan’s Day 19 May until the Restoration and 29 May thereafter.
The Hallmarking Act of brought the remaining 4 British Assay Offices London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh into line with each other with the date letter now changing from on 1 January 1 year.
Dating mappin and webb silver plate
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.
The marks serve several functions: * they verify that the item is of the correct quality. In Ireland, sterling silver is not less than % pure silver, the.
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DATE LETTERS – 1773 TO 2020
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.
Okay, hallmark and values, and silver marks shown below is to the hallmark in books available, gold, fourth, symbols, the step guide to date of. Antique clock.
Lion head erased , in use as London Mark for silver of Britannia standard. London – Isaac Devenport. London – William Scarlett. London – John Smith. London – William Burridge. London – Henry Clarke. London – Andrew Archer.
Edinburgh Date Letters
Hallmarks are authenticating marks struck on most silver items produced or offered for sale in Ireland. Since the Assay Office in Dublin Castle has been the only body with the authority to perform this task. The marks serve several functions:.
There are a variety of Wallace marks and I was wondering if anyone had any information about which mark was used during what time frame.
Silver jewelry marks are the hallmarks found on silver jewelry to help identify the composition and source of the jewelry. Because Sterling Silver is Resource: The For American silver marks visit this page: American Silver Marks on www. Note that the database includes marks used on flatware and other silver items, so you may need to search a bit to locate the company you want.
The second letter of the signature represents the initial of the last name of the artisan, and the number following is the sequential number assigned to that artisan. British silver jewelry marks are the most complex, as they include various letters and symbols. British hallmarks have been used for over years and have changed over time. Not all pieces will have all of these marks. The Standard Purity Mark is usually a symbol, that varies, depending on the region.
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a widely illustrated guide to London silver assay marks, marks and hallmarks of British silver, including date letters chart, silver marking system and silver.
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