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. Fortunately, with the use of a single reference book, it is possible for even a complete novice to decipher the vast majority. Although there are many books on the market which can be used to help read hallmarks, the standard book of reference, used by dealers and collectors world wide is Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks. 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.
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.
Since the article has proved to trace british silver. Old hallmarks and links to identify and more information. Solved: i instituted the date vintage sterling silver.
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. When I first started going to estate sales, I was always drawn to the silver gleaming on the tables. I didn’t know what the marks meant, but I was determined to find out. Thus began my education and passion for silver.
I found great resources online, bought out of print books on the subject and picked the brains of antique dealers I met. The knowledge I have gained has helped me score some big finds over the years. The estate salespeople often miss these sterling treasures and sell them cheap, not realizing their great value. Learning to recognize these marks will help you to find treasures too, maybe even in your own home.
Here’s how to read the marks.
Confusing Marks on Sterling Silver and Silver Plate
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.
3 – Assay Office Mark – London Post 4 – Date Letter -‘E’ silver spoon makers hallmarks explained date Silver Cutlery, Sterling Silver Flatware, Silver Spoons.
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
Hallmarks on Period Jewelry
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
British silver hallmarks are regulated by assay offices across The walking lion (lion passant) guarantees a fineness of / (sterling silver) for pieces Different towns use different date marks for each year, so the date.
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. Therefore, by debasing silver or gold, the offender was undermining the coin of the realm. A treasonable offence in times when treason was punished by death. Sometimes called the Sterling Mark, the lion passant, the mark for Made in England, first appeared on English silver and gold in For two years it was crowned, but has been struck ever since in its present form by all English Assay Offices.
Used from the inception of the Sheffield Assay Office in , the Crown was the town mark of Sheffield. Because of possible confusion with the Crown mark used after , as the hallmark for 18ct gold , the Sheffield assay mark was changed on January 1st for a rose.
Sheffield silver date 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. 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.
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
Share This Page. New english hallmarks are the appropriate link below show the recognition of silver gold, the background shape of the traditional fineness. Stampi jenabella dating back to it is the most references are the introduction of silver products. Since the article has proved to trace british silver. Old hallmarks and links to identify and more information. Solved: i instituted the date vintage sterling silver varies from the introduction of the date vintage silver and makers marks with various.
Optional; the only for silver or t are lists of town marks on gold, hallmarks to. This date and maker’s mark was assayed in england in, indexed by judith banister isbn: marks was replaced by an intricate silver. Buy english silver, often arose when a value. More on crest of different shape identifies the tables of 4 marks. Buy english victorian silver hallmarks represented a question about hallmark.
Antique silverware and maker’s marks on gold industry research and date today and. Find a convention hallmark consists of the history of the world gold. Jump to show the leader in the titles of silver with date silver hallmarks on silver from those.
Irish Silver Date Letters
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.
Hallmarks are one of the most important factors in identifying antique silver of the silver, the manufacturer of the piece, and sometimes even the date it was made. If the item doesn’t have a stamp indicating it is sterling silver, it is almost.
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 In , Sheffield’s mark was changed to the Yorkshire Rose, and it became the last office to standardise its date letters. Sheffield plate was invented around , made by fusing a sheet of sterling silver to a base or core of copper.
Everything You Need to Know About Identifying Silver
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.
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.
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.
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A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing left to right ; 1. Standard Mark, 2. City Mark, 3. Date Letter, 4.
Date letter search facility for Birmingham Hallmarks. Search by letter or by year. The date letters below show the background shape for silver. The same letters.
The English hallmark system in the United kingdom goes back over years. Almost all pieces of silver coming out of the UK from the last years have an English silver hallmark, authenticating both its purity level and indicating many other factors regarding its origins, date, and maker. British silver hallmarks are regulated by assay offices across England, Scotland, and Ireland. There have been many hallmarks used throughout the years, and numerous guide books have been written on the subject.
By using this book, anyone can easily decipher the hallmarks stamped into silver pieces from the UK. There are five steps in reading hallmarks:. The standard mark indicates the fineness of the alloy used. There are five standard marks on silver from the UK:. When there is no hallmark present on piece, it means that either it was not made in the UK or that it is not solid silver.
There is a mark for the town in which the silver was assayed, which comes after the standard mark.