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.
READING BRITISH SILVER HALLMARKS
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.
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.
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.
LAPADA Guide to Reading British Silver Hallmarks
Tags: antique jewellery , Antique Jewelry , British Hallmarks , dating hallmarked jewelry , English 18th c. Did you recently purchase your first piece of English antique jewelry? Would you like to know what the marks stamped on your jewelry mean? While most of this post is for those new to the English hallmarking system, there is at least one piece of information that I guarantee you will be news to a number of collectors and perhaps even a few dealers, read on to find out.
A hallmark identifies the type of precious metal and the fineness or purity of that metal.
In english hallmarks it became known simply as Sheffield Plate. Of course, Sheffield Plate was how much a part of its date as many silver art codes. It was a.
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. We have a lowercase h date letter, the lion passant, and a badly distorted maker’s stamp of TL.
In the London date cycles, the lowercase h appears twice in the 18th century, and The shape of this particular stamp is closer to the than , but the style of the spoon is more The style of the lion passant doesn’t look like either date. My questions are these: 1. Given a piece of flatware with no town mark but a date letter, is it reasonable to assume a London origin, or should I be looking at the other assay offices, which pose several other possibilities for a lowercase h.
In this case, all of the suitable TL maker’s marks seem to be from London.
Dating English Registry Marks. Starting in , England has offered registration of it’s decorative designs for pottery, china, wood, paper, pottery, china, porcelain, glass and more. By using the information below you can find the date a design was registered. Not every piece registered was marked.
Date Letters. Although no longer compulsory, British hallmarks typically include a letter to indicate the year when a piece of silver was assayed. Generally the letter.
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.
The French have two standards for silver purity or fineness. Both standards are marked with the head of Minerva inclusive of a numeral 1 or 2 to indicate the standard. French silver made for export carries an assay mark in the shape of the head of Mercury, along with a number to indicate the millesimal fineness: “1” for.
French silver also is punched with the mark of the maker, by law in the shape of a lozenge, usually with the maker’s initials and a symbol.
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:.
Hallmarks on British & Irish Silver. To date your silver from its hallmark first identify the assay office (e.g. anchor for Birmingham, leopard’s head for London, etc.).
Hallmarks are authenticating marks struck on most silver items produced or offered for sale in Ireland. Since the Assay Office in Dublin Castle has been the only body with the authority to perform this task. The marks serve several functions:. In Ireland, sterling silver is not less than Below are a few examples and a guide to reading antique Irish silver hallmarks, followed by photos of as many date letters as I could manage.
JS; this is the maker, John Smyth of Dublin.
ENGLISH SILVER MARKS
The Norwich makers office closed in Assaying was inexistence in York from the middle of the 16 th Century when the town mark was half fleur-de-lys and half makers head. This was used with a directory of date letters and makers marks. The first assay office was closed down in , only to be re-opened by Act of Parliament in The assay office had a new symbol, of a St.
Go to Current and Historic Assay Offices. Date Letters. You login to create an clan, or login before you can dating this item to your basket.
We have a lowercase h date letter, the lion passant, and a badly distorted maker’s stamp of TL. In the London date cycles, the lowercase h.
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.