Silver is one of the finest metals our world has to offer us. It is certainly beautiful, with the highest quality shine of all the metals. It is also durable, strong, and hard; making it useful to mankind for many different reasons. Silver is malleable and ductile, which means it can be melted, beaten, and formed into thin sheets of wire. It is then made into jewellery. Silver is the metal that appears the most white and reflective, showing off its beautiful shine. It can also be combined with other metals, like copper and nickel, to make it stronger.
Nineteenth-Century English Silver
To identify your sterling silver piece or pattern please answer the following questions:. If the answer is YES proceed to question 2. If your answer is NO you may still want to review the manufacturers trademarks to see if there is a match. It is possible that your pattern is silverplate and not actual sterling silver. On the handle is there an identifying mark from a manufacturer?
Below is a pictorial catalog of manufacturer trademarks.
Date letters are now optional in British hallmarks. England has also agreed to accept standard marks on silver imported into England from any nation that signs a.
The first step in identifying and establishing the value of silver is to ascertain whether the piece is silver or silver-plated. Sterling silver objects are made of Unfortunately, silver-plated items hold almost no monetary worth. There is not enough silver content to have melt down value and generally, these pieces do not retain their resale value. Begin with looking for the hallmarks or stamps on the item. British silver can be a bit more complex, as the history of British hallmarking dates back to the 14 th century.
Essentially, all British silver manufactured after should bear at least four hallmarks. First is the lion passant mark, which is the sterling guarantee mark. In Edinburgh and Ireland, it is replaced with their National symbols, the thistle and the harp, respectively. This mark guarantees that the piece has been assayed as sterling silver.
Confusing Marks on Sterling Silver and Silver Plate
Share best practices, tips, and insights. Meet other eBay community members who share your passions. Hi all, I’m a complete newby with anything old. I’m guessing silver plated dated around
Marks assay silver London to guide illustrated widely a silver, British of hallmarks and marks chart, letters date including Birmingham, as towns other of guide.
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. This shows that the article is sterling silver. This was a duty mark. Next is a much older set of antique Irish silver hallmarks. Unlike the first photo, the marks are not in an orderly line. This is normal.
A brief history of decorative silver in 13 objects
A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing left to right ; 1. Standard Mark, 2. City Mark, 3.
Laws dating to the 14th century established strict requirements for marking silver; the first emblem was a crowned lion’s head to certify sterling, which are all.
Our illustrated guide highlights the subtle ways you can discover the origins of any piece of silver. One of the most common inquiries at antique shows often has to do with authenticity: How do you know whether or not something is made of real silver? Collectors aren’t always looking for pure sterling silver , per se, but they should be able to know the value and composition of the pieces they’re buying. Most of the time, you can find the information you’re looking for by simply taking a closer look at the teaspoon , fish fork, ice cream saw, or cheese scoup that you’re eyeing.
More often than not, you can find an indented mark or a series of marks that can tell you a lot about the item: what it’s made of, where it was made, when, and by whom. You can find many different kinds of silver in the marketplace today. Some of the oldest American silver is “coin,” which contains at least Mint after the American Revolution-which rose to 90 percent in the years after Sterling, on the other hand, must be at least This standard Many people think of coin as much less valuable than sterling , but it has only about two percent less silver and, in some rare cases, may even contain more.
English silver has, for hundreds of years, been accepted as the finest in the world. We can thank both the unique system of Hallmarks and the jealous and zealous traditions of the Guild of Goldsmiths. The insignia of the town or city in which the test was made. A letter of the alphabet is used to illustrate a given year, thus representing the date. Since many cycles of alphabets can be written in different ways A, a, A, etc.
Product dimension 45mm x 35mm on a mm adjustable chain. Product details. Department: Womens; Date First.
The vast majority of English, Scottish and Irish silver produced in the last 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. 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. Although there are many books on the market which can be used to help read hallmarks, the standard book of reference, used by dealers and collectors world wide is Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks.
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.
How to Value: Silverware
Although early spoons are now rather rare, it was once common for any wealthy British person to own their own silver spoon which they would take with them on their travels. Because of the intrinsic value of the metal, outmoded or damaged examples were routinely melted down to be used in the making of other objects. This Henry VI-era spoon is a very rare and very early example that once belonged to Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeologist who excavated the ancient palace of Knossos. What makes this spoon particularly special is the Wodewose finial.
Hallmarks on British & Irish Silver. To date your silver from its hallmark first identify the assay office (e.g. anchor for Birmingham, leopard’s head for London, etc.).
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.
The interest in flatware which I have had for several years has led to a surprising discovery. Having found several forks and spoons in an antique shop in the town where I was born, my curiosity was piqued and I decided to make an in-depth study of the theme. The flatware all has the marks of the town of Audenaerde and can be dated to the 18th century.
Any Assay Office adopted its own cycle of date letters so that only from the the four surviving Assay Offices use a uniform system of dating (optional from ).
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. This presents obvious problems for those interested in antique and collectible silver and silver plate. Almost all the pieces we’ll be discussing are made for the antique reproduction trade.
How to Identify and Determine the Value of your Silver
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.
Dating English hallmarks helps to you to put a value on gold, platinum and silver products. How to recogonize British hallmarks and UK hallmarks and.
The Met Fifth Ave opens August The Met Cloisters opens September Your health is our top priority. Throughout the nineteenth century and still today , every British-made silver object offered for sale was required to bear four marks struck into the metal in a conspicuous place. One, the sterling mark, showed that the piece had been tested at the assay office and found to have met the standard of purity for sterling Smaller centers used other sterling marks, such as a thistle in Edinburgh and a harp crowned in Dublin.
A third mark was the date mark, a letter of the alphabet used for the twelve-month period during which the piece was assayed. The style and even the number of letters varied from office to office. London, for example, used only a—u, Chester used the entire alphabet, and both omitted j. Altogether there were twenty large and small assay offices in the nineteenth century, each with its own system of date letters.
The tax was eliminated in Hallmarks on British silver make it possible to identify the maker, and the place and date of manufacture, although their original purpose was to protect the silver coinage from conversion by goldsmiths and silversmiths to the raw material for their products. The hallmarking laws date back to , when the first mark for the sterling standard test was established.
The marks are an interesting study in themselves; on nineteenth-century works, they are generally evenly struck, legible, and have not become eroded from years of domestic use and polishing.