Silver dating marks
But, so widespread was the abuse of clipping or melting silver coins, that silversmiths were forbidden to use the sterling standard for their wares.
Instead a newer, higher standard of 95.8% pure, was introduced.
This started a practice called duty-dodging, whereby silversmiths avoided paying duty by incorporating pieces of silver bearing antique sliver marks into a new piece of silverware.
To get over this problem the Assay office introduced a duty paid hallmark in 1784, in the form of the sovereigns head, which remained until 1890 and covered the reigns of George III, George IV, William IV and Queen Victoria.
New Assay Silver Hallmarks were ordered, utilising the initials of each silversmith, together with a figure of a woman known as Britannia and a lion’s head, replacing the lion (Passant) ie. Changing to the higher standard of 95.8% silver caused some controversy.
So, in 1720 it was agreed that the old standard would be restored, and run alongside the higher standard. in 1720, a charge of 6 pennies an ounce was made, as a duty for restoring back to the old standard.
The initial reason for using silver hallmarks was to protect the purchaser, but over the years the marks had been somewhat confusing.
The date letter and the traditional fineness marks are no longer compulsory components of the hallmark.In particular, the merging or marriage of two pieces of silver ware into one item has produced suspect silver items over the years.What might have started out as a George III silver tankard could end up as a nice silver Coffee Pot once a spout and handle have been added.It is formed of initials of that person or company inside a shield shape. We mark a piece to the lowest standard of alloy content, so it guarantees that the quality of the article is no less than the fineness indicated.The shield shape varies, and a minimum of two initials must be included. When you create your punch with us, you join a register of makers stretching back centuries. The shape of the surrounding shield indicates metal type.
In the Gold Fineness mark, 375 is 9 carat, 585 is 14 carat, 750 is 18 carat and 916 is 22 carat.