Silver Hallmarks & other Identifiers – 3 Tips for Reading Hallmarks on Silver

In order to properly identify your antique silver pieces, you need to know how to read the hallmark on the item. These stamps indicate the year the item was made, where it was made, and who made it. It can also include a few other pieces, such as a duty mark, although that’s not always the case. If you’re not certain how to tell what these silver hallmarks are, these tips will help you.

Antique Hallmark

How to Make the Mark Easier to Read

Reading the hallmarks of a piece is essential to identify it, but it’s not always that simple. The silver hallmarks identification process is much more difficult on older pieces because the hallmark may not be as clear as it once was due to age or damage. One trick to making it a bit easier to read is to gently blow on it. The warmth from your breath will cause condensation, making the mark clearer.

Know the Common Marks

There are a number of common marks that appear on many silver pieces. For example, the lion passant is standard to identify a piece as sterling silver. If this mark isn’t there, it means the piece is most likely silver plated. You can find a list of the common town marks, date letters, and other hallmarks online or in a number of different guide books. If you’re going to deal in silver, you’ll need to become familiar with them.

lion passant marking

Understand the History of Silver

Knowing the history of silver flatware and other items can be very helpful for reading hallmarks. For example, if you see a duty mark on a piece, you’ll know that it was made between 1784 and 1890. You can narrow it down even more if you know when that mark was the king’s head and when it was the queen’s. All of this is vital information that can be used in antique silver appraisal and in your own personal identification of items.

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Posted in Silver Hallmarks.