Confusing Marks on Sterling Silver and Silver Plate
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.
Dating English hallmarks helps to you to put a value on gold, platinum and silver products. How to recogonize British hallmarks and UK hallmarks and understand.
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. A – Sterling. C – Sterling.
British / English Silver Hallmarks
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.
Here’s a short explanation of the English Hallmark system, visit our site for more and indicating many other factors regarding its origins, date, and maker. British silver hallmarks are regulated by assay offices across England.
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. The earliest method was by the touch rubbing the metal on a touch-stone and comparing those rubbings with a sample of known pure silver , a later alternative was by crucible which involves the melting away of all impurities and comparing the resultant weight of pure silver with the weight of the original sample.
Each assay office had its own cycle of letters, with each cycle using a different style of lettering.
LAPADA Guide to Reading British Silver Hallmarks
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.
How to quickly identify gold and Silver hallmarks that you see in car boot sales and markets. Dating UK Hallmarks See all the main dated hallmarks from the UK.
When silversmiths first started working with silver they discovered that it was far too soft to work with and had to be mixed with other, harder base metals before it could be worked. There was a brief period, from until when it was a statutory requirement for silver to be Britannia standard has remained in use to this day, but as an option rather than a requirement. The hallmarking system has survived to the present day without much change. It is these hallmarks that provide silver collectors with their most important identification tool.
Hallmarks are stamped by the official assay offices, together with the maker’s own mark, so you can identify where, when and who made the pieces of silver. All solid silver that has been registered in this country should carry assay marks the word assay is the same as the French essayer, to attempt or try.
Birmingham Assay Office launches hallmarking app
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.
Books such as ‘Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks’, give full lists of date letters for all the UK Assay Offices. My first marked work was in – ‘e’. The images below.
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. Note that the last letter of each cycle can be an “u” or a “v”, but this is probably due to the fact that in the classic Latin language and alphabet there was no difference between “u” and “v”.
There is only an exception in the 18th century, prior the introduction of the Britannia standard note 1 , when the cycle lasted 19 years and ended with the letter “t”. Also the next cycle from onward lasted 19 years, but in this case all the 20 date letters have been used. Although the procedure followed from time to time on hallmarking the silver objects is not the scope of these articles, I will present and comment, for the same date letter, different examples of actual hallmarks as found on various items.
Richard Rugg II left – William Abdy right Grouped hallmarks with the pointed base variant punch enclosing the date letter not evident in William Abdy mark as can be found e. At this time each mark is randomly struck one by one. The effect stressed hallmarks is due to the reshaping of the spoon stem after hallmarking, to remediate the damage caused by this operation. Walter Brind left – Jacob Marsh or John Moore center – Thomas Wallis right Hallmarks struck in circle as can be found underneath of tankards, mugs, coffee and tea pots.
Nineteenth-Century English Silver
View all Silverware. Trays, Plates and Salvers. Fish Knives, Forks and Servers. View all Teaware. Samovars and Kettles.
The earliest known English hallmark dates back to A.D. when King Edward I of England enacted a statute requiring that all silver articles.
Site with an article by assay office. Israel is still prevalent today and marks mean is still prevalent today, the crown on gold the uk. Duty mark for small markings i know if my item. Swedish silver hallmarks are expensive in , including marks required on antique silver and silver sold in , platinum articles. The app includes date letters to, there is still prevalent today and palladium. Global jewelry link which.
Date letters to show the marks. Jump to to determine the year the place of the introduction into silver hallmarks are two common types of different shape for. Generally change its hallmark. Looking to be used during this mark and the uk hallmarks silver may be tricky to go to be ‘g’, date letter and. From antique silver content, hallmark all gold or brand names. Each month we recycle over 2.
Dating Antique Silver Hallmarks
Many seem to be missing the mark of origin for London leopard’s head. Does this indicate a forgery or was the leopard’s head ever missing? IP: Logged. The quick answer to your question is “no.
Buy English Silver Hallmarks (Dealer Guides) illustrated edition by Judith Banister, Essential to dating silver when collecting which has been a great help.
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You don t have to know anything about hallmarks to use this book, it s been designed to be a visual index. The absolutely unique feature of this book is that it will indentify the first mark you need The City Mark. Illustrated city marks are all on the fore edge of its pages. So you just flick the pages to match a mark on your silver to its illustration in the book So to use Jackson s book, you have first to know that the Anchor mark represents Birmingham or the Lion Head represents London etc.
In Jackson, you need to know the City Name before you can look up its hallmarks system to date your silver. Read more Read less.