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

HOW TO READ, DECRYPT AND IDENTIFY
THE MARKS ON ENGLISH SILVERPLATE AND ELECTROPLATED SILVER

THE STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO TRACE ENGLISH / BRITISH SILVERPLATE

No codified rule was followed by the makers in the marking of their electroplated pieces. This makes difficult the research of information for inexperienced people.
The objective of this page is to help the visitors of the site in deciphering the marks of their British silverplate.
It should be said that the correct definition for punches present on silverplate is MARK, while the term HALLMARK is reserved to sterling silver items submitted to the "Hall" for verification of their fineness.

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HOW TO READ ENGLISH / BRITISH STERLING SILVER HALLMARKS

HOW TO IDENTIFY THE MAKER

The marks of electroplated silver were often inspired to the hallmarking used for sterling silver and the maker was identified by its initials inside a series of squares, circles, shields, etc.
The effect was apparently similar to sterling silver hallmarks, obtaining the result to gratify the buyer's pride to exhibit a high value object and the unconfessed objective to deceive inexperienced people.

A set of symbols imitating the shape of sterling silver hallmarking Sterling silver hallmark, Sheffield Assay Office, date 1850, maker Martin Bros & Co

A set of symbols imitating the shape of sterling silver hallmarking.
These are "generic marks " used by various silverplate makers

Sterling silver hallmark, Sheffield Assay Office,
date 1850, maker Martin Bros & Co

Usually the initials were in capital letters, often in "Gothic" characters. Less frequently the maker's name was written in full or was represented by a figural trade mark.
Gothic characters Gothic characters Gothic characters Gothic characters Gothic characters

Sometimes the initials were accompanied by an "S", standing for "Son/Sons" (if preceded by &) or "Sheffield". Boxes containing "crown", "fleur-de-lys" and other symbols were added to complete the similarity with a sterling hallmark. In other cases was used a pictorial trade mark

Silverplate mark of STEWART DAWSON & CO LTD Silverplate mark of CULF & KAY

STEWART DAWSON & CO LTD
The mark is S D & Co Ltd in capital letters into five square and rectangles

CULF & KAY
C & K in gothic characters

Silverplate mark of JAMES DEAKIN & SONS Silverplate mark of W.W. HARRISON

JAMES DEAKIN & SONS
The mark is J D & S in capital letters into various outlines.
In this case the "S" stands for "Sons"

W.W. HARRISON
W W H S in gothic characters into various outlines.
In this case the "S" stands for "Sheffield"

Silverplate mark of JOHN GILBERT Silverplate mark of MAPPIN & WEBB LTD

JOHN GILBERT
The mark J.G into a shield is accompanied by symbols and letters into
four different outlines imitating a sterling hallmark.

MAPPIN & WEBB LTD
The maker's name MAPPIN & WEBB is stamped in full letters
over the trade mark symbol (Prince's Plate).

figural trade mark of Barker Brothers figural trade mark of E.H. Parkin figural trade mark of S.J. Levi

BARKER BROTHERS
The firm used a "Three Stars into a Shamrock" figural trade mark. In most cases was accompanied by the initials B.B

E.H. PARKIN & CO
The firm used a "Female head into an oval" figural trade mark. In most cases was accompanied by the initials E.H.P

S.J. LEVI & CO
The firm used a "Squirrel into a circle" figural trade mark

To identify the maker from its initials use the alphabetical "List of Marks" pages (see below) and follow the link:

When the maker's name is written in full letters use the alphabetical "Directory of Makers" (see below):

MAKER'S HISTORY
& MARK'S IMAGE
Aa
Az
Ba
Bd
Be
Bn
Bo
Bz
Ca
Cn
Co
Cz
Da
Dh
Di
Dz
Ea
Eo
Ep
Ez
Fa
Fh
Fi
Fz
Ga
Gn
Go
Gz
Ha
Hh
Hi
Hz
Ia
Jz
Ka
Kz
La
Lz
MAKER'S HISTORY
& MARK'S IMAGE
Ma
Maq
Mar
Mz
Na
Nz
Oa
Oz
Pa
Pg
Ph
Pz
Qa
Rz
Sa
Sh
Si
Sz
Ta
Uz
Va
Vz
Wa
Wh
Wi
Wz
Ya
Yz
Za
Zz
unk.
#1
unk.
#2
unk.
#3
unk.
#4

To identify the maker from a figural trade mark use the "Figural Trade Marks on British Silver Plate" page (see below)

FIGURAL TRADE MARKS
ON BRITISH SILVER PLATE
trade mark: AINSWORTH, TAYLOR  & CO trade mark: ARMY & NAVY COOPERATIVE SOCIETY trade mark: HENRY BOURNE & DANIEL J.O'NEILL trade mark: WILLIAM BATT - WILLIAM BATT & SONS - WILLIAM BATT & SONS LTD trade mark: BENNETT (1907) LTD trade mark: COOPER BROTHERS trade mark: CRESWICK & COMPANY trade mark: DANIEL & ARTER trade mark: JAMES DIXON & SONS trade mark: HENRY HOBSON & SONS

To identify the maker from a trade name use the "Trade Names of British Silver Plate" pages (see below)

TRADE NAMES
OF BRITISH SILVER PLATE
Ambassador trade name: Gladwin Ltd - Sheffield Australian trade name: Naylor, Clark & Co - Birmingham Culfonia trade name: Cukf & Kay - Sheffield

HOW TO DATE YOUR SILVERPLATE

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 Elkington page of my website and another partial decryption is available in Walker & Hall dating page

Elkington & Co Silverplate mark, date 1887 Elkington & Co Silverplate mark, date 1904

ELKINGTON & CO
The presence of the "CROWN" indicates a date before c. 1895. Elkington deleted the "crown" from its mark in 1898.
In this case, being known the date letters of Elkington, we can date exactly the two marks. That in the left (with the crown) is 1887. That on the right (without the crown) is 1904.

Silverplate mark of FENTON, RUSSEL & CO LTD Silverplate mark of FENTON BROTHERS LTD

FENTON, RUSSEL & CO LTD
The firm became a Limited Liability Company in 1900.
The "LD" indicates that the piece was made after that date.

FENTON BROTHERS LTD
The firm became a Limited Liability Company in 1896.
The "LTD" indicates that the piece was made after that date.

Silverplate mark of MARTIN HALL & CO Silverplate mark of JOHN ROUND & SON

MARTIN HALL & CO
The lozenge / diamond reports the date of registration of the pattern at UK Patent Office. In this case the date is July 26, 1858. This is not the date of manufacture of the piece (popular model continued to be manufactured for many years) but signifies that it was made after this date. The key to decrypt the patent date on the lozenge is illustrated in the LOZENGE MARK / PATENT MARK (BRITISH) page

JOHN ROUND & SON
In 1884 the UK Patent Office changed the system of registration and the lozenge/diamond was replaced with a progressive number. In this case the number 375213 was registered in 1901. The annual series from 1884 to 1919 is illustrated in the LOZENGE MARK / PATENT MARK (BRITISH) page

Silverplate mark of WILLIAM ADAMS INC. Silverplate mark of WILLIAM ADAMS INC. Silverplate mark of WILLIAM ADAMS INC.

WILLIAM ADAMS INC.
Founded in 1865 by William Adams, the firm was active in Birmingham and New York. Much of its production was exported, especially to the United States. The McKinley Tariff Act of 1890 made mandatory the indication of the country of origin on products imported into the USA. From 1921 was mandatory the indication "MADE IN..." (but makers introduced this practice since the early 1910s).
From left to right the evolution of William Adams' mark:
ENGLAND, 1890s
GREAT BRITAIN (an unusual mark), possibly 1890s-early 1900s
MADE IN ENGLAND, after 1920

Silverplate mark of MARTIN HALL & CO Silverplate mark of JOHN ROUND & SON

MAKER UNKNOWN
This cup was assigned as the 2nd Prize of the competition held August 19 to 21, 1919 by Manchester Yacht Club. The piece can reasonably be dated c. 1919

THE ALEXANDER CLARK MANUFACTURING CO LD
This set of spoons commemorating King George VI coronation can reasonably be dated c. 1937

Silverplate manufacturers produced illustrated catalogs identifying each item with a stock or production number so that retailers could order without any confusion. These numbers were stamped on each piece (usually on the bottom). Having a catalog this number can be useful to date a piece.

Walker & Hall catalog, item number 14762 Harrison Brothers & item number 9873

Stock number on MAPPIN & WEBB CATALOG (left) and HARRISON BROTHERS & HOWSON mark (right)

OTHER MARKS ON SILVERPLATE

Many other marks can be found on a silverplate piece. The most common are EPNS (Electro Plated Nickel Silver) and EPBM (Electro Plated Britannia Metal). They identify the metal alloy used as base metal for electro-deposition of silver. Further details in the EPNS/EPBM page

EPNS mark EPNS mark EPBM mark EPBM mark

Other marks identifying the base metal were "EP" (ELECTRO PLATED), "BP" (BRITANNIA PLATE), "EPCA" (ELECTRO PLATED COPPER ALLOY), "EPGS" (ELECTRO PLATED GERMAN SILVER), "EP ON COPPER" (ELECTRO PLATED ON COPPER), "ESM" (ELECTROPLATED SILVER MOUNTS), "EPWM" (ELECTRO PLATED WHITE METAL), "MP" (MAGNETO PLATE). Further details in the ALPHABETIC SYMBOLS page

British electroplaters used a letter code for their "Plated" wares. The best quality was "A1" or "AI", lower level was "A", next level was "B", followed by level "C", and the lowest level was "D". Further details in the ALPHABETIC SYMBOLS page

A1 mark A mark B mark

Often the maker's mark was accompanied by an "S" standing for Sheffield (not to be confused with the "S" standing for Son or Sons). Rarely were used other town initials as L (London), M (Manchester), G (Glasgow). Oddly I never found a "B" for Birmingham. Further details in the ALPHABETIC SYMBOLS page

M mark standing for Manchester G mark standing for Glasgow L mark standing for London

In most cases a number, often of four figures, is stamped next the mark. This is the production/pattern/stock number used by the firm to identify the item. The same number was printed in the illustrated catalogues so that retailers could reorder the item without any confusion. Never assume these numbers as date of production of the piece.

production/pattern/stock number used by the firm to identify the item production/pattern/stock number used by the firm to identify the item production/pattern/stock number used by the firm to identify the item production/pattern/stock number used by the firm to identify the item

The workers of the plate industry were often paid on a pro rata basis. The foreman counted their output so that they could be fairly rewarded at the end of the week. In larger companies, to distinguish between each workers' ware, each member had his own punch with his initials, or, more often, with a small symbol. This mark was called the "journeyman mark" See JOURNEYMAN MARK - WORKMAN MARK page

journeyman mark

THE FIVE "W" OF BRITISH SILVERPLATE (WHO, WHERE, WHAT, WHEN, WHY)

Silverplate mark of PHILIP ASHBERRY & SONS Silverplate mark of WATSON & GILLOTT Silverplate cup with 1876 dedication

(1) WHO: the maker is PHILIP ASHBERRY & SONS identified by the Figural trade mark (paw feet with banner) and the initials PA&S
(2) WHERE: the firm was active in Sheffield, identified by the "S" (on the right, after the maker's initials)
(3) WHAT: the piece is identified by the stock (production) number 1414 and the base metal is Nickel Silver (E.P.N.S)
(4) WHEN: the approximate date is early 1900, deduced by the combined presence of the mark ENGLAND (in use from early 1890s) and the Patent Office number 351065 (registered in 1899)
(5) WHY: the inscription reads that the cup was presented to "Dr. Tighe from New Zealand emigrants in 1876" (the ship's surgeon averted a measles epidemic on board the Rangitiki)

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