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

BRITISH HALLMARKING
BRITISH SILVER HALLMARKS

British silver hallmarking is based on series of punched marks allowing to identify the town or assay office, the date and the silversmith who made the item or presented it to assay.
Hallmarks on silver have been used in Great Britain since the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) .
In studying hallmarks on British silver has to be taken not only the marks themselves but also of the outlines and the shield in which date letters or maker's marks are contained.



The most common marks found on British silver are:

TOWN MARK
identifies the Assay Office where the silver item was present to be verified. London uses the Royal mark of the leopard's head, Birmingham has the anchor, Chester the three wheat-sheafs and sword, Sheffield the crown (until 1975).
In Scotland, Edinburgh has the castle and the thistle and Glasgow the laden tree and the figure of Caledonia.
In Ireland, Dublin has the crowned harp and the figure of Hibernia.

London town mark Sheffield town mark Birmingham town mark Newcastle town mark Dublin town mark Edinburgh town mark Glasgow town mark

DATE LETTER
is the alphabetical system of marking the date of assay of each piece, adopted for London by statute in 1478 and carried on ever since, being adopted sooner or later by all other towns. In London the cycle is one of twenty letters ("i" and "j" being treated as one, "v" and "u" as one, and "x", "y" and "z" omitted).
The other assay offices vary in therir cycles, mostly using more letters.

BRITISH TOWN MARKS AND DATE LETTERS

LION PASSANT
the first known use of this mark is dated to 1544, but only in 1720 the lion passant was enacted for all plate wrought in England. From this date the lion passant appears on the marks of all town except those of Scotland and Ireland.

BRITANNIA MARK
in 1697an Act decreed a higher standard of purity for wrought plate instituting a new mark figure of Britannia and a lion's head erased. The higher standard was in use from 1697 to 1720, but the use of Britannia standard is still permitted.


lion passant: 1598-1820 lion passant: after 1820 Britannia and lion's head erased: from 1697 to 1718

DUTY MARK - KING'S HEAD
in 1784 a duty was imposed on all silver, and was ordained that the representation of the head of the sovereign should be stamped on all plate to show that it had paid the duty. This was continued until 1890.


Sovereign head: duty mark from 1784 to 1890

MAKER'S MARK (SPONSOR'S MARK)
it consists of the initials of the Christian Name and surname of the silversmith (from 1697 to 1739 were used the first two letters of the maker's surname).


chronology of Wakely & Wheeler marks


BRITISH SILVERSMITHS - ILLUSTRATED LISTING OF MAKER'S AND SPONSOR'S MARKS
A& AA AB AC AD AE AF AG AH AI AJ AK AL AM AN AO AP AQ AR AS AT AU AV AW AX AY AZ
B& BA BB BC BD BE BF BG BH BI BJ BK BL BM BN BO BP BQ BR BS BT BU BV BW BX BY BZ
C& CA CB CC CD CE CF CG CH CI CJ CK CL CM CN CO CP CQ CR CS CT CU CV CW CX CY CZ
D& DA DB DC DD DE DF DG DH DI DJ DK DL DM DN DO DP DQ DR DS DT DU DV DW DX DY DZ
E& EA EB EC ED EE EF EG EH EI EJ EK EL EM EN EO EP EQ ER ES ET EU EV EW EX EY EZ
F& FA FB FC FD FE FF FG FH FI FJ FK FL FM FN FO FP FQ FR FS FT FU FV FW FX FY FZ
G& GA GB GC GD GE GF GG GH GI GJ GK GL GM GN GO GP GQ GR GS GT GU GV GW GX GY GZ
H& HA HB HC HD HE HF HG HH HI HJ HK HL HM HN HO HP HQ HR HS HT HU HV HW HX HY HZ
I& IA IB IC ID IE IF IG IH II IJ IK IL IM IN IO IP IQ IR IS IT IU IV IW IX IY IZ
J& JA JB JC JD JE JF JG JH JI JJ JK JL JM JN JO JP JQ JR JS JT JU JV JW JX JY JZ
K& KA KB KC KD KE KF KG KH KI KJ KK KL KM KN KO KP KQ KR KS KT KU KV KW KX KY KZ
UNDER CONSTRUCTION


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