A SMALL COLLECTION OF ANTIQUE SILVER
AND OBJECTS OF VERTU
THE WHAT IS? SILVER DICTIONARY

EUROPEAN COUNTRIES SILVER AND GOLD HALLMARKS
UNITED KINGDOM
A silver or gold object that is to be sold commercially is, in most countries, stamped with one or more hallmarks indicating the purity of the metal and the mark of the manufacturer or silversmith
The word "HALLMARK" derives from the fact that, since the 16th century, precious metals were sent to the London Goldsmiths' Hall for testing to ensure that the correct standard of silver had been used. The Goldsmiths' Hall was the headquarters of the Goldsmiths' Company and the home of the Assay Office.
In some countries, the testing of precious metal objects and marking of purity is controlled by a national assay office.
Depending on the national legislation the use of hallmarks may be compulsory, voluntary or provided by a manufacturer's declaration.
UK hallmarking is organized on a mixed system of compulsory and voluntary marks.
The British hallmarking system was widely modified in 1999 and some of the traditional marks became optional symbols applied only on request alongside the compulsory hallmarks.
Henceforth, future generation of collectors will fewer and fewer find the full set of hallmarks that for hundreds of years has characterized the British silver.

A Hallmark is now made up of three compulsory symbols with the addition of some voluntary marks.
COMPULSORY MARKS

The Sponsor's or Maker's Mark (Compulsory mark)
Indicates the maker or sponsor of the article. This mark consists of at least two letters within a shield (of various shape), and no two marks are the same.
Sponsor's or Maker's Mark RHF Sponsor's or Maker's Mark HBH


Metal and fineness (purity) mark (Compulsory marks)
Indicates the precious metal content of the object, and that it is not less than the fineness indicated.
The fineness is indicated by a millesimal number (e.g. 925 is sterling). This number is contained in a shield of oval shape for silver and of octagonal shape for gold.

SILVER
silver fineness 800/1000 silver fineness 925/1000 silver fineness 958/1000 silver fineness 999/1000
Sterling
Britannia
GOLD
gold fineness 375/1000 gold fineness 585/1000 gold fineness 750/1000 gold fineness 916/1000 gold fineness 990/1000 gold fineness 999/1000
9 carat
14 carat
18 carat
22 carat
Assay Office Mark (Compulsory marks)
Indicates the particular Assay Office at which the article was tested and marked. There are now four British Assay Offices: Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield


Birmingham Assay Office mark Edinburgh Assay Office mark London Assay Office mark Sheffield Assay Office mark
 Birmingham
  Edinburgh
    London
   Sheffield
VOLUNTARY MARKS

Traditional fineness (purity) mark (Voluntary marks)
Traditional fineness (purity) mark: sterling silver Traditional fineness (purity) mark: sterling silver Scotland Traditional fineness (purity) mark: Britannia silver Traditional fineness (purity) mark: gold
   Sterling
     silver
Sterling silver
   Scotland
  Britannia
    silver
     Gold

Date Mark (Voluntary mark)
After 1999 a date letter indicating the year of hallmarking can be applied voluntarily in addition to the compulsory marks. The date letters are the same on the four Assay Offices.
date letter 1999 date letter 2000 date letter 2001 date letter 2002 date letter 2003 date letter 2004
date letter 2005 date letter 2006 date letter 2007 date letter 2008 date letter 2009 date letter 2010


Commemorative marks (Voluntary marks)

Examples of commemorative marks applied to precious metals by the four UK Assay Offices are the "Millennium Mark" (used during 1999 and 2000), the "Golden Jubilee Hallmark", commemorating Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee (applied during 2002) and the Diamond Jubilee Hallmarks commemorating Queen's Diamond Jubilee (applied from 1 July 2011 until 1 October 2012)
Commemorative mark: Millennium mark Commemorative mark: Golden Jubilee Hallmark Commemorative mark: Diamond Jubilee Hallmark
Millennium mark
Golden Jubilee Hallmark
Diamond Jubilee Hallmark



FURTHER ENGLISH MARKS


OTHER EUROPEAN HALLMARKS (under construction)

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