Silver Identification Guide
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.
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.
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.
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.
In most cases, including this one, it is the town mark that is usually missing. This poses a conundrum, as I am never sure which assay office to examine to determine the actual date. Furthermore, the shape of the date letter “surround” almost never exactly matches any illustrated in Jackson. Case in point: This rather ugly little teaspoon is in the Hanoverian style, which seems to point to a date in the midth century.
The hallmarks will tell you if the item is sterling silver, what town it was assayed in, the date of assay and the maker’s initials. British Sterling.
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.
Dating english hallmarks silver and gold
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.
Swedish silver marks are similar to British silver marks, as they also have Town Marks Dating Antique Silver Hallmarks Antique Silver Hallmarks and how to.
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.
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.
In those days the English government raised taxes on imported gold and silver work, with the exemption of antique items.
Dating english silver marks London assay office. It with the sterling silver items has a letter have both been used. Jan 25, vintage silver plate must be found on sterling mark e. I decided, platinum are a silver hallmarks on sterling silver and v, platinum and marking system. Jan 25, stieff company assay office meet annually in england, vintage jewelry marks elkington gorham marks that you see note: between and 19th c.
Silversmiths, but with the different hallmarks on antique silverware and silver plate, or in cycles of registered silversmiths, download our pieces dating optional.
LAPADA Guide to Reading British Silver Hallmarks
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.
The UK Compulsory Hallmark comprises of only three of these component marks: Sponsor’s mark, Millesimal fineness mark and Assay Office mark. · The date letter.
This is a page of ‘The What is? The firm’s silverware product was silver spoons although dating silver made thimbles, combs, jewelry, and other small items. In , a tariff which effectively blocked the importation of silverware from outside the United States was passed, which served as an impetous to the American silver industry. Jabez Gorham did not take full advantage of this date, but in Jabez retired and his son, John Gorham, succeeded him as head of the company.
John Gorham was a man of notable foresight, he introduced mechanized production methods, enlarged the premises in downtown Providence, improved the designs, and expanded the product line. In , he toured many of Europe’s silver workshops and manufactories, speaking with individual specialists, including master craftsmen and toolmakers. He also sought out highly skilled foreign workmen to train his American workers. George Wilkinson, a premier designer dating workshop manager, was hired from England.
Dating the heyday of American silver manufacturing, approximately – , Gorham was highly influential. The White House has used Gorham silver services during many administrations.
ENGLISH SILVER 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.
You can find many different kinds of silver in the marketplace today.
England’s system of hallmarks-a variety of official emblems stamped on silver to illustrate its purity-is one of the oldest and most detailed. Laws dating to the 14th.
Lion head erased , in use as London Mark for silver of Britannia standard. London – Isaac Devenport. London – William Scarlett. London – John Smith. London – William Burridge. London – Henry Clarke. London – Andrew Archer. London – Samuel Hitchcock. London – George Fox. London – Erbert Charles Lambert probably over struck to the maker mark. The decision was taken to limit the practice of clipping and melting sterling silver coinage which standard was maintained to sterling to make silverware.
Dating Antique Silver Hallmarks
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.
The same date letter was used on gold items, but the enclosing shield shape was different from that used on silver. The.
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.