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.
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.
What follows here is a brief overview of silver hallmarks in England, Scotland, and This date letter changed each year and has proved to be of enormous value.
Hallmarks, research and identification. Arminjon, Catherine. Imprimerie Nationale, Paris. Bauer, Ronnie History of hallmarks. NCJV Valuer, v. Bly, John. Shire, Princes Risborough. Sheffield Assay Office, Sheffield,England. Brand name and trademark guide. Brave new world of Hallmarking Goldsmith’s Review, pp. Carre, Louis. Librairie F. Chaffers, William; Markham, Christopher Alexander. Wordsworth Editions, Ware, England.
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.
English silver hall‑marks: including the marks of origin on Scottish & Irish silver plate, gold, platinum Hallmarks and date letters on silver, gold and platinum.
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.
Dating Antique Silver Hallmarks
Today there are still offices in Edinburgh, where hallmarking has been regulated since the 15th century, and in Birmingham and Sheffield, where assay offices were established by an Act of Parliament in
Hallmarks. Silver hallmarks in the UK date back to the medieval period and the practice Today there are still offices in Edinburgh, where hallmarking has been.
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. Birmingham bicentennial commemorative Sheffield crown Sheffield Tudor rose present. Chester a sword erect between three wheat-sheaves Exeter a castle with three towers
LAPADA Guide to Reading British Silver Hallmarks
Since then, there have been ten Assay Offices in the UK. There are four Assay Offices operating in the UK today. Assay Office Birmingham was established by Act of Parliament and was opened in Earlier practice could vary.
A guide to resources for identifying hallmarks and understanding the process of assaying lion rampant denotes silver marked in Scotland; Britannia silver The date letter shows the year that assaying was carried out.
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.
A series of marks usually four stamped on articles made of gold, silver, or platinum in the UK to indicate the maker, the hall or assay office making the mark, the quality of the metal, and the date of assay. Each of the four halls London, Birmingham, Sheffield, and Edinburgh have distinguishing marks e. The quality of gold was indicated by a carat mark 22, 18, 14, and 9 carats until , after which it was expressed in parts of gold per e.
The quality mark for sterling silver parts per in England is a lion passant and in Scotland a thistle or lion rampant.
The vast majority of English, Scottish and Irish silver produced in the last Bradbury’s book of hallmarks was last updated in by the Sheffield Assay office. Look for a matching date letter with or without the duty mark as needed.
June 20, 1 Comment. At Top Banana Antiques we have written a hallmark guide which will tell you everything you need to know. It is considered one of the earliest forms of consumer protection, as hallmarked items are tested, authenticated and marked at assay offices. The earliest known English hallmark dates back to A.
Electroplate Marks · British Silver — English, Scottish and Irish Silver Marks Gorham Date Codes (from Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks) · Gorham 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.
SCOTTISH SILVER MARKS
Scotland is well-known for his clans, the fearless militaries going to the battlefield preceded by their pipers and the unspoiled nature of the Highlands with lochs, rivers, salmon and stags. Deciphering marks on silver items is a fascinating pastime for silver collectors, but mostly they have no idea of the background of these marks and the reason why specific punches were chosen as town mark or standard mark.
The scope of this article is to trace back the origin of Scottish silver punches to the earliest times and to bring the reader up-to-date on this subject. Hallmarks were for most part, freely adopted by individuals or clans at some point in the Middle Ages and in many cases it is impossible to define the meaning of it, if any. In particular cases however symbols and emblems of official seals were the source of town marks and were subsequently integrated in city coat of arms.
The first hallmarks on Scottish silver date back to the midth century and they were meant to ensure a certain metal purity and protect customers from.
By law in the UK, precious metals over a stipulated weight i. A hallmark can only be applied by one of the four UK Assay Offices. More information can be found in this guidance leaflet issued by the British Hallmarking Council. Hallmarks which are applied by member countries of the International Hallmarking Convention are also accepted. If you are considering investing in some precious metal or interested in antiques it is helpful to understand what hallmarks mean.
The different symbols in a hallmark will tell you who made the item, what the standard of metal is, where it was hallmarked and possibly the date when it was hallmarked.