Antique silver hallmarks have been used to control the quality of goods made of silver since the 14th century and the organisation that regulates the craft, Goldsmiths Hall, gave the world the term hallmark.This is to ensure it is of the required sterling silver standard and, provided it conforms to a standard, a series of symbols are stamped into each part of the item.You don't have to be a longtime metal fan to dress the part, (although it helps), and you don't have to be a guy, either.
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Today and for the past few centuries, this stamp or silver hallmark has shown the place and year of manufacture of the assayed silver item, as well as the silversmith who made or sponsored the item.
The laws governing silver hallmarking are very strict and if an item does not comply with a standard the item will not be hallmarked and will probably be destroyed.
Between 17 the crown is often incorporated with the date letter struck on small objects.
When the Birmingham Assay Office was established in 1773, largely due to the representations of the great Midlands industrialist, Matthew Boulton, the mark of an anchor was adopted as the town mark.
Because of possible confusion with the Crown mark used after 1798, (as the hallmark for 18ct gold), the Sheffield assay mark was changed on January 1st 1975 for a rose.
Which had incidentally, been used as the gold assay mark for Sheffield when the Assay Office was first entitled to test gold, after March 1st 1904.Scottish hallmarks have been regulated by statute since 1457 but the earliest known example dates only from 1556 to 1557.The Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh was thought to be in the 1490’s and the earliest surviving records date from 1525.Since 1821, the uncrowned leopard’s head has remained as the distinguishing mark of London.Used from the inception of the Sheffield Assay Office in 1773 , the Crown was the town mark of Sheffield.In that year, a decree by Edward I laid down that silver or gold could not be made or sold unless it was marked by the leopard’s head or The King’s Mark, as it was then known.