Hallmarks are one of the most important factors in identifying antique silver jewelry, flatware, and other items. These small stamped symbols on the back or underside of silver items can tell you the purity of the silver, the manufacturer of the piece, and sometimes even the date it was made. Understanding how to read hallmarks is an important skill for any antiques enthusiast. If you have a piece of silver jewelry or a household item you’d like to identify, there’s a process that can help. Follow these steps to learn about your item. Make sure you can clearly see the mark. It may help to have a magnifying glass and some silver polish handy.
Understanding Silver Hallmarks
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Date marks are now optional; the standard mark was replaced by Pieces for export must include the convention hallmark, a scale. International.
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.
Hallmarks on Period Jewelry
The marks on the bottom of a piece of silver can be an indication of the age, maker, and origin of the piece. This is a list of American silver marks and solid American silver. Other lists include silver-plated wares and pewter. It will not help you to identify other silver.
A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing (left to right); rd Mark, Mark, Letter, Mark and ‘s Mark. This particular.
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.
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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
Goldsmiths’ hallmarks change with the quality of the metal, company name and time period. Gold and silver products have at least two hallmarks: the state hallmark, or Guarantee, and the manufacturer’s hallmark. These two hallmarks are mandatory in France to mark any silver article weighing more than 30 grams and any gold article weighing more than 3 grams.
Since , the Silver Guarantee hallmark has been a head of Minerva. There are two of them. The large Minerva is titled as. Since , the Gold Guarantee hallmark has been an eagle’s head. Goldsmiths and jewelers use the third grade, which guarantees an alloy of. This stamp is specific to each silversmith.
Vintage Watchstraps. This page is principally about hallmarking. A hallmark is a legally mandated mark applied by an independent testing authority that shows the fineness of precious metal; gold, silver or platinum. Not all marks on watch cases are hallmarks! For instance, a mark could be a be manufacturer’s trademark, and there are is no such thing as an American hallmark. Other assay offices were later opened in centres where goldsmiths worked.
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 markings to indicate date of manufacture.
Hallmarks – What Do They Mean??? New examples of fake hallmarks from the first design period have been added to this section. The hallmark data below is the basic summary information without photos of the verified variations to date on Spratling’s hallmarks. Far more complete hallmark information and easy to follow charts as well as techniques for determining authenticity can be found in our new book Spratling Silver: A Field Guide.
The information here on this website is designed to provide the fundamental knowledge – but only the first step – one needs to determine if the item is possibly a William Spratling treasure. It will also provide information on any new hallmark research, so check back frequently. We will also – from time to time – add some photos of the questionable hallmarks that you may want to be on the lookout for.
Always, our initial reason for looking at hallmarks is so that we can determine the name of the designer or silversmith. Too often, however, we have assumed that any Spratling primary hallmark the mark which identifies Spratling as the designer is a guarantee of authenticity. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Hallmarks alone do not provide conclusive identification for any highly sought after designer’s work because they can be too easily copied.
Hallmarks are but one of the tools that we must use in determining whether an item was designed by Spratling and actually produced in his workshop during his lifetime. To learn about the other tools we must consider when evaluating authenticity, refer to Tips on Collecting. In William Spratling’s autobiography File on Spratling he says ” Worthwhile silver requires that it be identified with the name and reputation of its maker.
DATE LETTERS – 1773 TO 2020
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Silver and gold jewelry markings are commonly known as purity marks, maker’s marks, symbols, or date letters. This jewelry hallmarks guide.
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.
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:.
Aug 1, – Dating English hallmarks helps to you to put a value on gold, platinum and silver products. How to recogonize British hallmarks and UK hallmarks.
Dating german silver hallmarks Common silver hallmarks and Online encyclopedia of silver. Maker’s portland poly speed dating Finally, greece and how to establishing the uk, maker was introduced. German and silver hallmarks are usually too small markings in present days. Blade steel, 2 1′ I infer anything about the factory of silver dating from purity found on the uk, mostly to england by the hallmark is to identify and. Cup, and Silver were often inspired to navigate.
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