Identify Silver hallmarks, Jewelry marks and Precious Metal marks
Fast & Easy visual reference with all marks
divided in Shape Categories - see Examples
Makers marks & hallmarks on Jewelry, Silver & Metal ware
Ideal to identify hallmarks on:
Helping our members since 2004
Member Comments - see more...
"Authoritative with many helpful links. It made my job so much easier!" Kathleen G., Personal Property Appraiser, ISA & ASA member
"Marks are nicely classified, the most common sense way to locate hallmarks of all kinds and origin. Smart method!" Tom S., Jeweler
Includes extra Resources & Links to help you research your Silver & Jewelry marks:
Silver & Precious Metals Hallmarks from America, Mexico, England, Scotland, Ireland, Russia, France, Germany, Italy, Norway & other European countries
Special Dating Systems for British Silver hallmarks, including Gorham, Sheffield, City Ciphers and Emblems, Date Symbols, Units Conversion Tables (Troy oz etc), Silver & Precious Metals Glossary
The use of marks on silver and other precious metals has a long history of regulation and standards. Beyond their aesthetic or utilitarian value, items made of silver were often regarded as an investment and a show of social standing. For this reason, in the older days, governments & authorities sought to remedy taxes on silver and other precious metals. For example, as early as the 13thC, we have the first official imposition of Hallmarks and Assay marks in England as proof of duties paid.
Because there was no paper currency at the time nor stocks or bonds, the accumulation of Silver & Precious Metals became the main means of preserving one’s wealth in what we now refer to as liquid assets. Surplus money in coins was easily converted to silverware and other silver tableware & hollowware like basins, ewers or drinking vessels, salt cellars, and even jewelry. When times were hard, these could be melted back to coins just as easily.
It is interesting to note that Ceremonial silver, like chalices, silver trays or salvers, crosses, icons with silver overlay and other related artifacts, accounted for almost 40% of all early silver and precious metals, especially in Europe & Russia. In contrast, early Jewelry accounts for less than 3% of all precious metals or silver used, but was often a mix of metal and precious stones and so not very easy to convert - plus, try to reclaim your wife’s jewelry to pay bills, and you will know how unlikely that can be…
This created the need for certain official standards that ensured a direct conversion back and forth with minimum losses in value. Different countries used different systems to measure and mark precious metals & silver and some none at all. The most elaborate systems of marking silver are found in England and throughout the UK, France, Germany, Austria and to a lesser extent Russia and the USA. Many countries with limited production had almost no regulations in place and no particular silver standards. For this reason, some countries like the UK, Holland and Austria, had separate marks that were required to be placed on items imported from abroad to ensure they had been properly Assayed upon entry. At present, very few countries, if any, impose strict regulatory standards on silver & precious metals or jewelry. Most countries have instead agreed to use Convention marks since the mid-1970s (some countries much later like 2003 - 2005), but not as a legal requirement.
Standard marks, Assay marks, Date marks and Town marks
Silver in its pure form is soft and the same is true of most other precious metals. Therefore, in order for a silversmith or jeweler to create an item made of silver or precious metals, there was a need for hardening it by adding other less expensive metals, mostly copper. Hence, a silver teapot of .925 Sterling Silver means that 92.5% of its content is of pure silver and the rest is other metal.
Assaying literally means metals testing, and Assay marks were placed on items to indicate that they had been tested by the authorities to contain the minimum allowed proportion of pure silver. Originally, and especially in England, Assay marks were punched by the actual maker or silversmith using a unique mark of his own and as approved or assigned to him by the King. In 1477, the Leopard’s Head, then also known as the King’s mark, became the first Standard silver mark for England as a whole, but was soon limited in scope as the designated City mark for London while other towns adopted their own. In this manner, other towns and by extension other countries had similar histories, but much later, ca 16thC onwards. In essence, Assay marks were used to confirm the standard cited by the maker, and the person performing the test is called an Assayer. Assayers were appointed by the governor or ruler of a country or region and resided in most major towns where silversmithing and jewelry manufacturing was prevalent. Assay marks were always unique to a specific City and Year. For example, in the UK, and after 1479, each city with an established Assay Office issued a unique Latin letter that varied every year in style and outline, known as the Date mark. To denote the City or Town, another symbol was used that we now appropriately refer to as the Town or City mark. For example, London continued to use the Leopard’s Head (crowned or uncrowned), Sheffield used a Crown, Birmingham an Anchor and so on. Other countries used similar Hallmarking systems, for example France, Germany and Austria used symbols representative of their locale. In Russia, the Assayer’s mark was his/her initials in Cyrillic and there was a separate mark to denote the Town or City.
As standards changed over time, other hallmarks begun to appear, including the Lion Passant or Guardant, the Britannia mark, Lion’s Head Erased etc in the UK and similarly in other countries.
To identify and recognize these marks, our members can access a comprehensive pictorial page on assay or city marks used on silver & precious metals over the years. It also includes the various standards and units applied worldwide to denote purity and silver content. A separate section displays all Date marks for most cities & towns in the UK.
In addition to Assay & Date or Standard and City marks used in various countries and over the years, Jewelers and Silversmiths most often punched their own marks as a way to sign their pieces and help others identify the maker. As increased production of Jewelry and Silverware lead to the formation of Guilds or Companies, including Trading firms or Retailers, the use of makers’ marks multiplied significantly and often changed over time, even by the same maker or company.
Industrial Plated Silver entered the scene ca mid-18thC with Sheffield Plate, also known as Rolled Plate, a mechanical method of applying thin sheets of silver on copper. Silverplated wares experienced remarkable expansion when Electroplating became the standard method that used a chemical process of depositing silver on copper through electrolysis, around mid-19thC. Marks on Silverplate did not have to conform to any regulated standards and as long as they did not infringe on Sterling Silver marks or hallmarks adopted by each country, they could be any logo or trademark in any form or shape. This created a flurry of new marks for silverware & jewelry, many of which were officially registered and some not. Most silverplate marks were pictorial representations of animals, birds, shields, crowns etc, with the occasional manufacturer’s or maker’s initials or name near or within the mark. Silverplate marks are well documented, although some were used by Trading companies, whose logo may appear on items made to order for them by various factories, and which are not necessarily registered, or their use was short-lived.
In the case of American Silver marks, and since there was no official regulation in the country, many American silversmiths and manufacturers decided to use marks or symbols that resembled authentic British or French Hallmarks. This was most likely an attempt to gain quick market acceptance since most Silver and Silverplate at the time was imported from the UK and France. These types of marks are usually referred to as pseudo-marks, but most are well documented in our database.
As a result, we now have a monstrous number of makers’ or jewelers’ marks that have either been officially registered or at least documented by collectors and antiques dealers. Yet, thanks to all these makers’ marks, the good news is that we now have a system by which to identify the origin and age of a piece of Jewelry or Silverware. In turn, this helps us research its value by comparing with other similar items made by the same maker and around the same period. For online sellers, knowing the maker also helps in describing items accurately to attract more buyers. At the same time, buyers can quickly find similar items to add to a collection or complete a Silverware Set.
Our service includes over 12,000 confirmed marks used by Jewelers & Silversmiths, Silverplaters, Manufacturers, Resellers or Distributors, and most fine Retailers. Additionally, and unlike books that specialize in certain countries or periods or styles only, or are very generalist to be useful, our databases include marks on almost all types of Metal Ware. These include marks for Silver & Silverplate, Precious Metals (Gold, Platinum), Jewelry, Pewter, Copper or Brass artifacts or instruments, Bronze busts, Watches & Clocks, Metal Lamps, Silver Purses, and even Metal Desks Sets, from the world over.
Frequent updates with more marks and features also ensures a comprehensive and “live” approach to our service, so you will never have to wait for the next edition of a book or the next volume. For that matter, you will also not have to carry them with you wherever your antiques hunting adventures take you since our services are always available online.
In addition to all marks being presented in Shape & Letter Categories for a quick visual look-up, we have also created sophisticated and proprietary Search Tools to make your research effortless and efficient. For example, our NAME SEARCH can quickly find all marks used by a certain Jeweler or Silversmith or company, along with any Tradenames they may have also used.
Because many makers’ marks are composed of simple initials, for example TH, EG, PHT, WH&S etc, we have also created an INITIALS SEARCH that finds all marks that include the initials entered, even if these initials are overlapping. In fact, even if you can’t make out one or more of the letters, you can simply type a question mark in its place and our INITIALS SEARCH will locate and display all possible combinations.
But most importantly, and as a member of our service, if after using all these tools, you still can’t find a mark or have doubts, you can send us questions. Our specialists will research your marks for you at no additional charge and will respond with a specific and unique answer within 3 business days (usually sooner).
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