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.
British Import Hallmarks
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.
a widely illustrated guide to London silver assay marks, marks and hallmarks of British silver, including date letters chart, silver marking system and silver.
The statute made it the responsibility of the Wardens of the Goldsmiths’ Guild to mark all items of sterling standard with a leopard’s head stamp. 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 The leopard’s head silver hallmark, which has been used in various forms as the symbol of the London Assay Office since hallmarking began.
Most British and Irish silver carries a number of stamps indicating not just the standard or purity mark typically the lion passant but also the initials of the maker, a date letter and the place of assay. The Edinburgh mark is a three-turreted castle to which a thistle was added from until when a lion rampant replace the thistle ; the mark for Sheffield was a crown until when it was replaced by a rosette, while the symbol for silver made in Birmingham is an anchor.
Dublin silver is struck with a crowned harp, to which a seated figure of Hibernia was added in Sequences of historical marks for the following offices can be viewed through the links below reproduced courtesy of the British Hallmarking Council. London Hallmarks. Birmingham Hallmarks. Sheffield Hallmarks. Edinburgh Hallmarks.
British / English Silver Hallmarks
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.
Date letter. Standard marks from On sterling silver, the English assay offices This mark indicates the particular British assay office (London, Birmingham.
A hallmark is an official mark or series of marks struck on items made of metal , mostly to certify the content of noble metals —such as platinum , gold , silver and in some nations, palladium. In a more general sense, the term hallmark can also be used to refer to any distinguishing characteristic. Historically, hallmarks were applied by a trusted party: the “guardians of the craft ” or, more recently, by an assay office.
Hallmarks are a guarantee of certain purity or fineness of the metal, as determined by official metal assay testing. Hallmarks are often confused with “trademarks” or “maker’s marks”. A hallmark is not the mark of a manufacturer to distinguish his products from other manufacturers’ products: that is the function of trademarks or makers’ marks.
To be a true hallmark, it must be the guarantee of an independent body or authority that the contents are as marked. Thus, a stamp of “” by itself is not, strictly speaking, a hallmark, but is rather an unattested fineness mark. Many nations require, as a prerequisite to official hallmarking, that the maker or sponsor itself marks upon the item a responsibility mark and a claim of fineness. Responsibility marks are also required in the US if metal fineness is claimed, even though there is no official hallmarking scheme there.
Nevertheless, in nations with an official hallmarking scheme, the hallmark is only applied after the item has been assayed to determine that its purity conforms not only to the standards set down by the law but also with the maker’s claims as to metal content. In England, the year of marking commences on 19 May, the feast day of Saint Dunstan , patron saint of gold- and silversmiths.
Dating Antique Silver Hallmarks
Our goal is to include every important online source of silver, gold, and jewelry marks on this list. If you know of any marks sites that aren’t listed below, please contact us at chicagosilver charter. For an index to this master list of marks, click here. Chicago Silver Marks.
Hallmarks. Silver hallmarks in the UK date back to the medieval period and the forms as the symbol of the London Assay Office since hallmarking began.
Over the next 50 years, Birks expanded by buying up established jewellers across the country. They also took over their rivals in manufacturing until they had a virtual monopoly on the production and sale of sterling silverware in Canada. Birks acquired several more designs from Gorham and other manufacturers later in the century and also designed a few of their own patterns like Tudor and Laurentian. Birks manufactured their own flatware and some of their hollowware in their factory in Montreal up until the early s when the factory was closed and production was moved offshore.
In the early part of the century, the factory employed nearly people. Some of their hollowware was purchased from manufacturers in the UK and the US and sold under the Birks label.
Silver hallmarks and hallmarking
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.
Dec 30, – London Date Letter Chart – Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers’ Marks.
This page of London 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. The second mark was used from If a mark illustrated here matches one you are researching, there is a possibility another may have made it. London – later mark c.
Norman London – reg.
Confusing Marks on Sterling Silver and Silver Plate
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.
Reading marks left to right: maker’s mark, DAB; standard mark, lion passant; assay mark, London; date stamp, DAB is the mark of contemporary English.
Hallmarks Burrows London – reg. George Collins London – reg. George Gray London – reg.
Silver Identification Guide
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.
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
Curious as to how we determine the dates on many of our pieces? We are fortunate enough to have obtained a handful of old catalogs and internal documents pertaining to the hallmarksused by the Georg Jensen Silversmithy. The different hallmarks have been used during different period of time, and combined with our knowledge of silver content and the years of which the designers were active all combines to help us determine the age of an item. Some of the documents we have included to the side and below.
Under the Danish Hallmarking Act of , the content standard for all silver was set at parts out of 1,, which is slightly lower than the standard for sterling which is The remainder is usually copper with very small amounts of iron, lead and traces of other metals. The Danish mark, S was used until about when silversmiths raised their silver content to and eventually to Georg Jensen did not switch to the sterling standard until although he occasionally made special orders in S for the American market much earlier.
Until , Danish silver was identified by a stamp with three towers. After that an S or S imprint was used. A mark with two towers means silverplate. Other hallmarks can also include Swedish year markings and The Designer Initials which can further assist in dating a particular item.
Can show the various hallmarks are no longer compulsory components of the silver and how about nonfiction. There are the traditional fineness, how to identify, can give the origin of the article will give you. Check out more than years and hallmarks to the earliest forms of london.
Hallmarks and date letters on silver, gold and platinum. () N.A.G. Press, London. Haslam, Malcolm. () Marks & monograms: the decorative arts, -.
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. The date letter example above represents Prior to the date letter varied for every office. After that it became uniform for every city. Since , the date letter has been optional. Most silver and goldsmiths making bespoke pieces will still opt to use the date letter, however for mass produced silver items it saves the importers money to leave it off.
CURRENT AND HISTORIC ASSAY OFFICES
Hallmarks, research and identification. Arminjon, Catherine. Imprimerie Nationale, Paris.
Since the date letter was unified for all the survived Assay Office in the UK (London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh), and.
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. From it is on its side for all metals. The organisation takes pride in its high level of service and the use of the latest technology by all its commercial divisions, from Hallmarking, Diamond and Gemstone Certification, Jewellery, Watch and Silverware Valuations through to precious and non precious metal testing, product safety and quality assurance testing as well as educational training and consultancy.
It was founded to regulate the trade of the goldsmith, and was responsible since for testing the quality of gold, silver, and latterly platinum and palladium articles. The word ‘hallmark’ originates from the fifteenth century when London craftsmen were first required to bring their artefacts to Goldsmiths’ Hall for assaying and marking.