Hallmarked Silver, Gold & Platinum February 09 2015
The hallmark on vintage silver, gold and platinum allows the year and the location of it’s testing for purity to be identified.
The vast majority, but certainly not all, fine jewellery and silverware produced in England, Ireland and Scotland over the last 500 years has been hallmarked. A hallmark will identify the metal, the grade of purity and which assay office undertook the tests. There are several assay offices where a metal can be tested, these offices are regulated by the government and each has it’s own symbol to identify it. The ‘standard mark’ identifies which part of England the assay office is situated. England has a walking lion, Dublin has a crowned harp, Edinburgh a standing lion and Glasgow a thistle. In addition to standard marks, town marks identify where the assay office is located.
The date of the piece can be identified by a date letter. As there are only 20 letters used, a combination of font used (upper and lower case) and the shield it is within, can accurately identify the date the mark was made. It is not essential, but often a makers mark will also be included in the hallmark. This mark is used to identify who made the piece of silver. These marks can be useful for being able to accurately indentify the maker of a piece of antique silverware of vintage silverware.
Vintage silver is ever popular as it has a timeless elegance. Silver napkin rings remain in demand and candelabra highly sought after. Antique and vintage silver has seen a rise in popularity following the ‘Downton Abbey effect,’ where fine silver is now the norm at dinner parties and celebrations.