A Quick Guide To English Silver Hallmarks

Published: 03rd October 2006
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The English hallmark system was born in 1300, when King Edward I ordered that every gold or silver item should be tested for fineness by the officers of the Goldsmiths' Guild in London before it could be offered for sale, and that a mark should be stamped on the piece as a guarantee that this test (or 'assay') had been passed.

All solid (sterling) silver that has been registered in the United Kingdom should carry assay marks. There are some exemptions for very lightweight items which usually carry the "925" mark. These marks ensure that the silver was tested to see if it met British laws for silver purity and quality.

Apart from assay marks, there will also be a date mark and in some cases a duty mark to indicate that a relevant tax had been paid too. Typically a single piece will carry a Sterling Guarantee (such as a Lion), a Town mark from where it was assayed (Anchor, Crown, Castle etc.) a Date Letter (normally in a shield, circle or square) to identify the year of Assay (A-Z or a-z) and a Makers Mark (Typically some initials such as NM,H & T etc.)

From 1 January 1999 new European legislation has brought the British hallmarking system in line with the rest of Europe. Until then, only wares containing a minimum of 925 part per thousand of pure silver were hallmarked and allowed to be referred to as solid silver. This new legislation allows a wider range of purity to be marked in the UK as silver. This means that a lower grade of silver (800) can also be marked in this country. Any "silver" without a suitable Sterling Guarantee hallmark should be treated as "white metal" as there is no guarantee as to how much silver the metal contains.

All items sold at our shop at http://stores.ebay.co.uk/AuctionmastersUK_W0QQssPageNameZl2QQtZkm are 925 quality unless stated otherwise.

For more detailed information please go to www.925-1000.com

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