Dating english silver hallmarks
Silver Dictionary' of A Small Collection of Antique Silver and Objects of vertu, a 1500 pages richly illustrated website offering all you need to know about antique silver, sterling silver, silverplate, Sheffield plate, electroplate silver, silverware, flatware, tea services and tea complements, marks and hallmarks, articles, books, auction catalogs, famous silversmiths (Tiffany, Gorham, Jensen, Elkington), history, oddities ...The date letters below show the background shape for silver.The same letters were used for Gold, which has been marked in Birmingham since 1824, but with a background of a square with cut corners.There may be some variations in backgrounds during the late 19th century, especially on watch cases.The vast majority of English, Scottish and Irish silver produced in the last 500 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.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.
In that year and the following year, the head faced left and was debossed rather than embossed.
There are simply too many maker's marks for a pocket guide to include, and so to find the maker one needs to refer to a variety of large reference books.
Most people would need to rely on the dealer or auction room from which the item was bought to identify the maker. with those simple steps, you can quite easily decipher the hallmarks on any piece of British silver made in the last 500 years.
As an example, the date letter for 1898 in London is a lowercase ‘c’, in Sheffield it is a lowercase 'f' and in Birmingham it is a lowercase ‘y’. This is why it is important to find the town mark before you try to find the date letter.
The Maker’s mark was initially a picture, but this practice was superseded by using the first two letters of the maker’s surname and later the initials.