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.
Hallmarks on Period Jewelry
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.
These tests are carried out only by an Assay Office, of which there are four in the UL – London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh. The Hallmarking Act
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 Dates. Click on the letter you dating to date or on a date letter cycle column in the table below to see a larger view:. By the date date date the 18th century Birmingham was becoming an important centre of the silver industry. Silver was required to be assayed before date but the nearest assay offices were either London or Chester.
Industrialists from both Birmingham and Sheffield petitioned Parliament to be allowed to establish assay facilities local to each town. The anchor was adopted as the assay office mark by Birmingham and the crown by Sheffield, supposedly as a result of the delegations meeting at a public house in London called the Crown and Anchor.
Dating silver plate marks
This page of Birmingham Maker’s Marks is organized alphabetically by the first letter in the mark. This is just a small sampling, as there exist many, many thousands of registered British makers. The page is, however, a work in progress and will grow over time. If a mark illustrated here matches one you are researching, there is a possibility another may have made it.
From the 18th through 19th hallmarks, Sheffield Plate pieces were in great Of course, Sheffield Plate was how much a part of its date as many silver art codes. of Birmingham Boulton, how one of the most silver figures of the Birmingham.
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.
A second factor was the renewed interest in antique artifacts of the applied arts that was kindled by the first World Exhibition in London As there had never been a real prior interest in hallmarks, other than identifying the people responsible for the quality of the precious metal, these marks were interpreted as genuine foreign antique marks by the customs officers and collectors. This deceit lasted to around the turn of the 20th century.
Swedish Hallmarks. While in the United Kingdom smiths incorporated the hallmarks in the design, sentiment amongst most precious metalsmiths is that they do not want someone to punch stamps on objects they created with great care and hard labour. When it could be avoided, for instance when it was not mandatory, the smiths would choose not to have their items marked. Other reasons hallmarks are not found on jewelry include repairs done in the course of the life of the item or that the article was exempt from hallmarking.
English Silver Makers Marks
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. Britannia silver is indicated by a full-length figure of Britannia.
Since pre-Roman times gold and silver have been used as currency or as the counter deposit for Purity marks; Maker’s Marks; Date Letters; Town Marks The assay mark of Birmingham, England is an anchor which is not very logical as.
Do you have a piece of gold jewellery and would like to know more information about it? Gold-Traders has compiled a gold hallmark identification wizard to help decipher the markings that are stamped on your item. Have a look at your piece of jewellery. These markings will be pretty small, so you’ll need a magnifying glass to see them properly!
Note : The following gold hallmarking identification wizard is supplied without warranty. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure its accuracy, we offer no guarantees. Please contact us if you have any suggestions on its improvement. While you’re on our site, don’t forget to check out our up-to-date scrap gold prices. If you’re thinking of selling gold, you’ll find our rates are significantly higher than any high street retailer and we don’t charge testing or refining fees.
On your marks…
Lion head erased , in use as London Mark for silver of Britannia standard. London – Isaac Devenport. London – William Scarlett.
Help with Hallmarks allows users to quickly identify metal marks. preloaded with all date letters from the 11 UK assay offices dating back to as well as collectors, antique and second hand dealers, silver experts.
The app allows users to quickly research and identify date letters on jewellery or items of silverware, and has been preloaded with all date letters from the 11 UK assay offices dating back to The Help with Hallmarks app follows on from the AnchorCert Gemstone Weight Estimator app which has been available for a number of years and has been sold worldwide on both Apple and Android platforms. The Gemstone Estimator app allows users to easily calculate the estimated carat weight of diamonds and gemstones from their measurements.
The calculation will use the measurement of the length, width and depth of the gemstone and the minimum and maximum diameter of round brilliant diamonds. You must be logged in to post a comment. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website.
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LAPADA Guide to Reading British Silver Hallmarks
Silver Makers Marks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Many new comers to the world of collecting Silver often become confused with the large variety of markings on Silver Items. The new collector should focus first on trying to identify whether the item is in fact a Silver Item. Since the 16th century there have been various methods of coating a base metal with Silver or Gold. The first being Mercury or fire plating where a base metal was heated in a furnace and a solution of mercury and silver was applied and the item re heated.
The Birmingham Assay Office is delighted with the success of its latest app – Help It includes date letters from the eleven key assay offices in the UK, dating go” tool for retailers, collectors, antique and second hand dealers, silver experts.
The joy of collecting British silver is the variety of choice this is mainly due to the hallmark. The subject of hallmarks is sometimes thought to be a complicated one, but this is not so, each hallmark can broken down into four individual marks. Firstly and probably most important is lion passant, this stamp of a lion seen from side on indicates that the item is made from sterling silver which is parts per thousand.
I am often asked why Birmingham, so far from the sea, has an anchor for the town mark. The story is that in the late 18th Century Matthew Boulton was sending his silverware to Chester to be hallmarked, as that was the closest assay office to Birmingham, unfortunately due to the condition of the roads his work was often damaged in transit. He decided to petition Parliament for an assay office in Birmingham.
The two parties met in a pub near Parliament called The Crown and Anchor and with the toss of a coin Birmingham mark became the anchor and Sheffield the crown, later a rose. The assay office was opened in New Street on 31st August and the first customer was Matthew Boulton. As with all valuable metals fakes and forgeries do occur, I have come across hallmarks that have been removed from one item and let in to another to make it appear older and more valuable.
This is why experts often breathe on hallmarks, by doing so the outline of any joins will become visible.
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.
The shape of the shield cartouche around the City Mark and Standard Mark generally change to match the shield around the Date Letter Mark. • • •. Birmingham.
Vintage Watchstraps. I started my pages about hallmarking to document information about imported watches, which is not readily available in the standard references such as Bradbury and Chaffers. However, I realised that many people with a watch that they have perhaps been given or inherited don’t have ready access to these standard works, so on this page I show some examples of the British hallmarks that were found in any watch cases that were hallmarked before 1 June , and which continued to be used in British manufactured watch cases after I can’t for copyright reasons apart from anything else reproduce the information in Bradbury or Chaffers, but I hope the examples here will help you read the hallmarks in your own watch.
If you want some help, don’t hesitate to email me, but do try to send me a clear picture or sketch of the mark you need help with. Please bear in mind that in this context “silver” means the element silver, number 48 on the periodic table. It does not mean “silver coloured” or silver plated. In Britain it is illegal to describe something as silver unless it is mainly composed of silver. Small amounts of alloy are allowed for practical reasons, but an item described as sterling silver must be at least