MAPPIN & WEBB
DATE LETTER MARKS ON SILVER PLATE
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DATING MAPPIN & WEBB SILVER PLATE
From centuries British silver is protected by the stamping of symbols and letters identifying the maker, the Assay Office and the date in which the quality of the silver piece was verified.
Thanks to the "date letter" any piece of British sterling silver can be exactly dated.
Old Sheffield Plate and Electroplated silver are not subject to this practice and the regulation issued by the authorities had the main objective of preventing possible frauds by unscrupulous sellers of plated ware.
The best-known initiative is the prohibition (effective from c. 1896: Elkington was forced to change its mark in 1898) of stamping plated wares with the "crown", to avoid misunderstanding with the symbol identifying the Sheffield Assay Office.
The absence of an official dating system makes it difficult to date silver plated wares. An approximate date can be determined by examining:
- the style of the object
- the presence or absence of the crown (before or after c. 1896)
- the date of registration of the pattern at the Patent Office
- the presence of a dated dedication
- the date of the event (example: King/Queen Coronation or Jubilee commemorative spoons).
- "Ltd" or "Ld" on the mark denotes a date after 1861 (but in most cases not before 1890)
- a registered number (Rd followed by a number) denotes a date after 1883
- "England" denotes a date after 1891 (mandatory for export in the USA - McKinley Tariff Act of 1890-)
- "Made in England" denotes a 20th century date (mandatory after 1921 for export in the USA)
The largest manufacturers introduced, on a voluntary basis, a dating system of their silver plate based on series of letters of various style contained into shields or geometric figures. The first was Elkington (1841), followed by
Walker & Hall (1884) and Mappin & Webb (but other less known makers tried to do something similar).
The key to decrypt Elkington date system is well known and widely illustrated in my website ( click here for Elkington page), that of Walker & Hall is known
(but not disclosed as covered by copyright), while that of Mappin & Webb is, to the best of my knowledge, still unknown.
As a modest contribute to the knowledge of Mappin & Webb dating system I publish in this page some sets of images of marks bearing what looks as a date letter.
Not all pieces marked Mappin and Webb bear the date letter and often is difficult for me to decipher the style of the letter. In some cases I add some information that could be useful for an approximate dating of the mark.
Any new information, suggestion and addition of missing marks will be highly appreciated (mail to firstname.lastname@example.org )
The patent number 24536 present on "k" was issued in 1885|
Prince's Plate is advertised from c. 1890|
Letter "d" on a vase belonging to Hotel Metropole, Bexhill on Sea (active 1900-1941)
The lower case "q" is on a coffee pot found in Argentina bearing also the symbol "BA" (probably standing for Buenos Aires). The Buenos Aires store was opened in 1911 and was still active in 1926.
Series used from c.1900 to c.1927 as:|
uppercase letter "Q" was found on a cup inscribed "MT Depot Grove Park winners of inter-depot league 1918-19 Pte W Gibson" (MT stands for 'Mechanical Transport', a military depot at Grove Park (London) during the First World War -courtesy Gareth-)
Series used in the 1930s as:|
lowercase letter "j" found on a commemorative spoon (1935 silver jubilee)
The "H" was found in a piece with dedication dated 1936|
The upper case "N" is on an item bearing the "broad arrow" and date 1960|
|BRITISH SILVER MAKERS: MARKS, HISTORY AND INFORMATION
BRITISH SILVERSMITHS -
ILLUSTRATED LISTING OF MAKER'S AND SPONSOR'S MARKS
BRITISH TOWN MARKS AND DATE LETTERS
This is a page of 'The What is? 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 ...|
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