Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Maker's Marks
BRITISH HALLMARKS
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A typical set of antique British silver hallmarks showing (left to right);
1.Standard Mark, 2.City Mark, 3.Date Letter, 4.Duty Mark and 5.Maker's Mark

This set of marks tells us that this piece was made of Sterling, in the city of London, in the year 1789, during the reign of King George III, by the silversmith Thomas Wallis.


{note - British hallmarks come in sets, the rule of thumb is, if you do not have a complete set including:
Standard mark, city mark, date letter and maker's mark [+ a duty mark if 1785-1890], the item is
either from another country or a piece of silverplate with a hallmark-like trademark.
}

Click here for a comparison of British Silverplate Marks to British Sterling Hallmarks.
• • •



 1. STANDARD MARKS
The Standard mark indicates the purity of the silver.
A - Sterling .925
B - Britannia .958, used exclusively 1697 - 1720, optional afterwards.
C - Sterling .925 for Glasgow
D - Sterling .925 for Edinburgh
E - Sterling .925 for Dublin

 2. CITY MARKS (and the most common standard marks found with them)
London, England (1300 - Present)
The crowned leopard's head was used 1478 - 1822, the uncrowned from 1822 - Present.
London Date Letters • 1696 - 1935 & Maker's Marks

Birmingham, England (1773 - Present)
Birmingham Date Letters • 1773 - 1924 & Maker's Marks

Chester, England (1701 - 1962)
Chester Date Letters • 1701 - 1925 & Maker's Marks

Exeter, England (1701 - 1883)
Exeter Date Letters • 1701 - 1883 & Maker's Marks

Sheffield, England (1773 - Present)
Sheffield Date Letters • 1773 - 1916 & Maker's Marks

Dublin, Ireland (1636 - Present)
TABLE OF DUBLIN DATE LETTERS • 1700 - 1920

Edinburgh, Scotland (1681 - 1974)
From 1975 to present, a lion rampant mark (same as Glasgow's) has replaced the Thistle as the standard mark.
TABLE OF EDINBURGH DATE LETTERS • 1681 - 1931

Newcastle, England (1702 - 1884)
Newcastle Maker's Marks

Glasgow, Scotland (1681 - 1964)
Until 1819 only city mark, date letter and maker's mark.

Date letter tables for Glasgow and the following cities are in the works & coming soon.

York, England (1560 - 1858)
Until 1701 only city mark, date letter and maker's mark.

3. DATE LETTERS
The date letter system was introduced in London in 1478 (elsewhere as the hallmarking system evolved). Its purpose was to establish when a piece was presented for assay or testing of the silver content. The mark letter changed annually in May, the cycles of date letters were usually in strings of 20 and each cycle was differentiated by a changing of the font, letter case and shield shape.

 4. DUTY MARKS
  In 1784 the duty mark was created to show that a tax on the item had been paid to the crown. The mark used was a profile portrait of the current reigning monarch's head. The use of this mark was abolished in 1890.
  • 1. 1785 (began 12/1/1784)
  • 2. 1786 - 1821
  • 3. 1822 - 1833
  • 4. 1834 - 1837
  • 5. 1838 - 1890
The first two marks are not duty marks but were used prior to them and dropped when the duty mark came into existence. The crowned leopard (a) was used with Sterling, the lion in profile (b) was used with Britannia.

5. MAKER'S MARKS
The enforced use of the maker's mark was instituted in London in 1363. Its purpose was to prevent the forgery of leopardís head marks upon silver of debased content by providing an indication of the party responsible for the piece. Originally, makers' marks were pictograms, but by the beginning of the 17th Century it had become common practice to use the maker's initials.


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