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. There are so many different hallmarks found on British silver that to know all of them would be impossible.
Silver Identification Guide
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.
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.
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.
The national control mark was introduced in and in started a national alphanumerical date marking system.
ENGLISH SILVER MARKS
For the first eleven years the Sheffield Assay Office struggled to survive, borrowing heavily from local silversmiths. Got this todaycan’t find out much about the maker, except a few sales from Bonhams with the FBs Ltd. Wm Erik Voss’s List of US Silversmiths note 1 note 7 note 2 In and again in the mark was changed and a date number was added.
Thomas Boulsover, a Sheffield cutler, invented the process wich became called Sheffield plate about
A brief, easy to follow guide for reading the hallmarks on British Silver. The walking lion for all sterling silver made in England; The standing lion for all sterling silver Look for a matching date letter with or without the duty mark as needed.
View all Silverware. Trays, Plates and Salvers. Fish Knives, Forks and Servers. View all Teaware. Samovars and Kettles. Art Deco.
Confusing Marks on Sterling Silver and Silver Plate
A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing left to right ; 1. Standard Mark, 2. City Mark, 3.
Reed & Barton Sterling Date Marks – Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers’ Marks. Reed & Barton Date Marks – Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks.
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. Queen Victoria faces left. Queen Elizabeth faces left. Silver was stamped with a lion for London, a thistle for Edinburgh.
British / English Silver Hallmarks
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.
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.
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.
READING BRITISH SILVER HALLMARKS
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.
These will be the marks of the maker/ silversmith, the Lion Passant to signify that its English Sterling Silver, the Assay Office Mark, the date letter, and finally the.
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.
Everything You Need to Know About Identifying Silver
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.
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
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. The photo below shows examples of these symbols, as well as the most common Town Marks.
The Date Letters are especially tricky, as the various towns used different lettering schemes to represent the years. After a complete set of letters was used, a new set began a different font. Luckily, you can find many photos and charts online that help decipher the dates.