The full detail of what assay marks mean, when they are needed and what they look like can be found on the London Assay Office website. The date letter allows you to determine the date the piece was assayed. There is a 25 year cycle of letters. The images below are date letters from a series of ingots — I have made at least one every year since I registered my mark. I have had some pieces so marked. The Jubilee mark is show above and depicts a young Queen Elizabeth with an oversized crown in a diamond surround. The LAO have a list of charges for basic and supplementary services.
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.
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 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. Platinum is indicated by an orb. The date is indicated by a letter in a specifically shaped shield. Hallmarks on precious metals are accepted internationally and there are heavy penalties for forging them or selling articles made in the UK of these metals except those exempt without them.
The future of hallmarks is, however, uncertain, owing to current moves to make the marking of precious metals consistent throughout the EU. Since January all articles made in the EU of gold, silver, or platinum must carry a numeral indication of purity in parts per in addition to any hallmarks. All Rights Reserved.
British Import 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. Go no further.
A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing (left to right); rd Mark, Mark, Letter, Mark and ‘s Mark. This particular.
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. The shield shape varies, and a minimum of two initials must be included. Every one is unique. When you create your punch with us, you join a register of makers stretching back centuries. Register for your punch here.
British / English Silver Hallmarks
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.
The most encountered hallmark on jewelry is undoubtedly the “purity” mark which indicates started stamping marks on their jewelry and silver work that mimicked antique hallmarks. Purity marks; Maker’s Marks; Date Letters; Town Marks.
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.
READING BRITISH SILVER HALLMARKS
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:.
Note: marks and the most of mostly provincial british silver jewelry. British silver hallmarks and silver symbol unique to help date letter stamp. Other towns as a lot.
By law in the UK, precious metals over a stipulated weight i. A hallmark can only be applied by one of the four UK Assay Offices. More information can be found in this guidance leaflet issued by the British Hallmarking Council. Hallmarks which are applied by member countries of the International Hallmarking Convention are also accepted. If you are considering investing in some precious metal or interested in antiques it is helpful to understand what hallmarks mean.
The different symbols in a hallmark will tell you who made the item, what the standard of metal is, where it was hallmarked and possibly the date when it was hallmarked. The art of hallmarking in the UK has a long history; it dates back years, when a rigorous and very sophisticated system of hallmarking was developed. It is, in fact, the oldest form of consumer protection known in the world. Hallmarks are proof that the article has been independently tested and stamped.
In the UK, these marks can only be applied by an Assay Office. In the past most cities and towns had an office but these days there are only 4 remaining in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh. It is normally 2 or 3 initials in a surrounding shape. This mark can be applied by the maker prior to being sent for hallmarking but it must be present before the official hallmarks can be applied by the Assay Office.
Hallmarks on Period Jewelry
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.
The four standard marks of a hallmark were the standard/purity mark, the assay office symbol, the date letter and the maker’s mark. A fifth duty mark was used.
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. This is the stamp for 3. The harp crowned, the purity mark.