If you’re thinking about purchasing silver made in the UK, you want to make certain that what you’re buying is pure silver. Otherwise, you may be paying a lot of money for something that isn’t worth much at all. In order to identify the pieces you’re buying as true silver items, you need to understand British silver hallmarks. Here’s a quick rundown of what these marks include.
A Standard mark
The first step to identifying silver hallmarks is to look for the standard mark. There were five different marks used on British silver, and they’re easy to recognize. They are the walking lion, the standing lion, the thistle, the crowned harp, and the symbol of Britannia. If you can’t find one of these marks on the item, it was likely silver plated or was made elsewhere.
The Town Mark
The next mark to check for is the town mark. This mark identifies where exactly the piece was manufacture red. There are a number of these silver hallmarks, so you may need a reference guide to determine what town the mark on your item represents.
The Duty Mark
The duty mark was only used between 1784 and 1890. It indicated that a duty was paid on the silver. Older items may have the King’s head, indicating that the item was made between 1784 and 1837. When Queen Victoria took the throne, the mark was changed to the Queen’s head. These antique silver hallmarks are useful in determining when a piece was made.
The Date Letter
This letter indicates when the silver piece was made. The letter changed periodically, and each town often used a different font or even a different letter. Again, this is something that you will need to use a guide for, and you’ll need to determine the town mark first.
The Maker’s Mark
Finally, there’s the marker’s mark. This mark is the symbol or initials of the maker or manufacturer. It’s the final piece needed to determine exactly where, when, and who made the silver piece.