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.
Hallmarking in the UK and its Legal Requirements
Silver jewelry marks are the hallmarks found on silver jewelry to help identify the composition and source of the jewelry. Because Sterling Silver is Resource: The For American silver marks visit this page: American Silver Marks on www. Note that the database includes marks used on flatware and other silver items, so you may need to search a bit to locate the company you want.
The second letter of the signature represents the initial of the last name of the artisan, and the number following is the sequential number assigned to that artisan.
A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing (left to right); rd Mark, Mark, Letter, Mark and ‘s Mark. This set of.
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.
DATE LETTERS – 1773 TO 2020
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.
The difference is shown in tables of marks and can be useful in dating an item. The lion passant became the most widely recognised hallmark symbol because,.
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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 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.
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.
Hallmark date letters. Precious metals, such as gold and silver, are generally too soft and malleable for practical use. They are therefore mixed or alloyed with.
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. Sponsor’s Mark.
LONDON DATE LETTERS CHART / SILVER HALLMARKS UK
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.
The quality mark for sterling silver ( parts per ) in England is a lion (passant) and in The date is indicated by a letter in a specifically shaped shield.
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
Antique Silver Online from J.H. Tee Antiques Ltd.
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.
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.
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. But while most governments strictly monitor standard marks, very few regulate marks not related to the content of precious metals.
It is perfectly legal, for example, to stamp silver with trademarks or brand names of companies no longer in business or whose trademark is no longer registered. A new piece marked Unger Bros.
LAPADA Guide to Reading British Silver Hallmarks
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.
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.
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. Swedish Hallmarks.