Silver hallmark dating
The excise duty on gold and silver articles was collected by the assay offices and the mark was struck to show that it had been paid. Special commemorative stamps have been added to the regular silver marks to mark special events.In addition to the four examples shown below, the head of Elizabeth II facing right was used to mark her Golden Jubilee in 2002 and another set in a diamond was used from July 2011 to October 1, 2012, to mark the Diamond Jubilee.The inclusion of initial stamps alongside the hallmarks means that most makers can also be identified.Often makers are celebrated in their own right with some collectors choosing to collect the work of just one workshop or retailer such as Paul Storr, Hester Bateman, Charles Ashbee or Liberty & Co.Silver struck with the half leopard’s head and half fleur de lys of York (closed 1856) and the crowned X or a three-turreted castle of Exeter (closed 1883) can be collectable on account of its rarity and sense of place.
This measure was continued until 1720 and all silver marked between those two dates bore a lion’s head and the figure of Britannia in place of the lion passant.
Dublin silver is struck with a crowned harp, to which a seated figure of Hibernia was added in 1731.
Sequences of historical marks for the following offices can be viewed through the links below (reproduced courtesy of the British Hallmarking Council).
It was Edward I (1272-1307) who first passed a statute requiring all silver to be of sterling standard – a purity of 925 parts per thousand – ushering in a testing or assay system that has survived for over 700 years.
The statute made it the responsibility of the Wardens of the Goldsmiths' Guild to mark all items of sterling standard with a leopard's head stamp.