The Fallacy of the “Maker’s Mark” Before sending an item to be assayed and hallmarked at a British assay office a person must first register their details with the assay office they want to use. The reason for this is pretty obvious – the assay office needs to know who to charge for their services, where to return the items, and who to hold responsible and punish if an item is found to be sub-standard, which in earlier times included sentence to the pillory. This person is called the “sponsor”, which in this context means the person who takes responsibility for the items submitted. The sponsor does not need to be someone directly involved in making the items that they submit for hallmarking. An item will not be hallmarked unless it carries a sponsor’s mark, this is a legal requirement. At one time the sponsor or maker of the item stamped the mark, but now the assay office will hold a punch on behalf of a sponsor and stamp the sponsor’s mark.
British Hallmarks for gold, platinum and silver.
We have two aims: The association carries out its activity on the internet within this website http: Its objectives are to host articles supplied by members on matters of common interest, to report links to websites related to silver and its hallmarks and to devote some pages to illustrate the most interesting pieces owned by our members Photos and a brief description will be sufficient. The page will be created by our staff: Our invitation is addressed to all private collectors and keen lovers of antique silver.
Professional dealers may join the ASCAS as collectors or for private interest on antique silver, but our website has no link with commercial firms or advertising objectives.
Dating Antique Silver Hallmarks Antique Silver Hallmarks and how to indentify where your silver comes from. 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, .
Basket Contact us Scotland’s Assay Marks Think of them as the ‘signature’ of the oldest consumer protection group in Scotland. For each and every assay mark helps to assure the ‘who, what, where and when’ of the manufacture of precious metals. There has been legislation governing hallmarking in Britain since , when a symbol rather than a letter was used because few people could read.
Applying a hallmark to guarantee precious metal purity can be traced back in Edinburgh to the mid-fifteenth century when the first surviving Act of Parliament was passed on the subject. Before it can be sold to the public silver, gold, and platinum must be assayed and independently hallmarked by one of the four Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, and Sheffield approved UK Assay Offices to guarantee the quality of the precious metal.
Believed to be the oldest continuously existing business of any kind in Scotland, the Assay Office has been owned and has operated as an independent, privately funded business since an unknown date in the mid th century by the Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh. Since January UK hallmarks now comprise of a minimum of three compulsory symbols. These five marks in order consist of the Sponsor’s or maker’s mark which is always at least two letters contained within a shield with no two marks ever being the same.
The next is the Fineness Mark, which is the precious metal content expressed in parts per thousand of silver, gold or platinum are represented by the millesimal fineness contained within a uniquely shaped shield associated with said metal. The Lion Rampant is Scotland’s traditional mark for sterling silver consisting of The ancient three-towered castle follows and represents the quality, strength and durability of the nation and of her goldsmiths work in the precious metals.
And finally, although no longer compulsory, a date letter has indicated the year of manufacture since
Members How to identify marks on pewter British and Irish pewter is often unmarked. If marks are present, they can help in identifying when and where the item was made or used. Marks fall into 3 broad categories.
Hallmarks on silver were first introduced in the UK in as a method of proving that the silver object contained the correct amount of silver, since pure silver is a very soft metal and consequently any object made from silver requires some base metal to be added to it to strengthen it.
Edinburgh Hallmarks Regional Centres Collectors will often place a premium on silver hallmarked in other regional centres which have since closed. Some of these ceased hallmarking as early as the Stuart period the Norwich assay office identified by a crowned lion passant and a crowned rosette shut in , while others such as Chester three wheat sheaves and a sword and Glasgow a tree, bird, bell and fish were still operating into the post-war era.
Below is list of marks applied by provincial assay offices which have now ceased operating: Chester – closed in Mark: Here, often for reasons of security and economy, it was prudent to operate outside the jurisdiction of the metropolitan assay houses of Dublin and Edinburgh. Instead, they stamped the silver themselves with a maker’s mark, a town mark or combinations of these and other marks.
The mark of the Limerick silversmith Joseph Johns. Specialist publications are essential for locating and unstanding the meaning of a huge proliferation of different marks and symbols used on Scottish provincial silver. The marks struck for Alexander Cameron of Dundee. 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 was changed annually until a complete alphabet had been used and then the cycle would begin again with an alteration to the style of letter or its surrounding shield.
Antique Terms (A)
It is very easy to date Antique Silver, as silver is Hallmarked by law. This allows buyers to get an accurate description of the origin and history of the silver item. Silver has been in use for centuries and was used in various forms, such as for currency, for Industrial purposes and even for medicinal purposes.
assay (metalware – gold and silver – hallmarks, purity) An assay office is set up to test the purity of gold, silver and now platinum according to government set standards. The UK currently has four operational assay offices at London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh.
Birmingham The anchor of Birmingham is very common on English silver, but not so common on spoons, with the exception of small spoons such as caddy spoons. Considering that Birmingham is miles away from any sea it would seem inappropriate for the anchor to be its assay office symbol. There is however, a good reason for this: The silver industry sent its wares to either York or London, but with the joint representation with Birmingham, the Sheffield Assay Office opened its doors in However, small numbers of interesting pieces prior to this mass production do exist and are highly collectable.
The town mark a castle with three turrets looks very similar to that of Edinburgh, but can be differentiated by the existence of the lion passant. The assay office closed down in , soon after Josiah Williams retirement in Chester The city arms mark of Chester is highly sought after, being rare on pre silver. As with Exeter and Newcastle Assay Offices, Chester silver had been made and marked for some centuries previous but an Act of Parliament in granted Chester with its own assay office.
Scottish Silver Cowrie Shell Snuff Mull, c1898
The list consists of designers and maker’s marks that have been difficult to find in reference materials so far. When information is found it will appear with credit given to the person who provided it. Thank you, in advance, for your assistance. US silver companies such as Gorham and Tiffany often used both marks in the late ‘s. Britain never used a standard less than
A sterling 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.
We have two aims: The association hasn’t any commercial interest. The association carries out its activity on the internet within this website http: Its objectives are to host articles supplied by members on matters of common interest, to report links to websites related to silver and its hallmarks and to devote some pages to illustrate the most interesting pieces owned by our members Photos and a brief description will be sufficient. The page will be created by our staff: Our invitation is addressed to all private collectors and keen lovers of antique silver.
Professional dealers may join the ASCAS as collectors or for private interest on antique silver, but our website has no link with commercial firms or advertising objectives. Membership is absolutely free, but the association reserves the right to evaluate the requests for admission of its members. The request may be submitted addressing an e-mail to silverassociation yahoo. It is a non-profit association without commercial links. Membership is open to whomever has a true interest in this subject matter.
Scottish Sterling Silver Salver W.&P. Cunningham 1804
The mark used was a profile portrait of the reigning monarch’s head. The use of this mark was abolished in Its purpose was to establish when a piece was presented for assay or testing of the silver content.
“Antique Silver Bowl with Hallmarks” or,”Beautiful Georg Jensen Art Nouveau Sterling Centerpiece c”. The second one of course. This is simply using strategic keywords in .
Your guide to antique pottery marks, porcelain marks and china marks Dating Antique Silver Hallmarks Antique Silver Hallmarks and how to indentify where your silver comes from. 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. Every item made of silver must be sent to an Assay Office for testing.
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.