Silver Hallmarks

Silver hallmarks are an invaluable aid to collectors and dealers for identifying the date & maker of antique silver, and indeed any piece of silver made in England.

modern silver hallmarks

modern silver hallmarks

Hallmarks on silver were first introduced in the UK in 1300 as a method of proving that the silver object contained the correct amount of silver, since pure silver is a very soft metal and consequently any object made from silver requires some base metal to be added to it to strengthen it.

In these early days it was not uncommon for silver objects to be melted down and converted into coinage, and so it was imperative that the silver used was of a sufficient grade, especially with continental silver containing a much lower percentage of silver.

Silver Hallmarks were the answer to this problem.

Any piece of silver had to be officially approved to be of a high enough silver content, and would be given it’s hallmark only when this was the case.

As a consequence the hallmark became a standard of quality and assurance, and the presence of a hallmark on a silver object was an official seal of approval.

English silver, or Sterling silver is often referred to as solid silver, but it does in fact contain 7.5% copper, so it is 92.5% pure, which is why modern silver often has a .925 mark stamped into it. Continental silver is often only 80% pure.

English Silver Hallmarks evolved over time, with the eventual inclusion of the standard or sterling mark, the assay office, the year of manufacture, the maker, and sometimes an additional mark for special reasons.

All of these silver hallmarks can help in identifying exactly when and by who any piece was made, which is not only helpful to collectors of antique silver, but also offers a fascinating dimension to any old silver object that you may possess.