Dating english silver from hallmark
It is also important to note that each town has a different series of letters, starting on a different year.That means that not only is the font and shield different depending on the town, but also the letter.The King's head duty mark was first struck in 1784.In that year and the following year, the head faced left and was debossed rather than embossed.As an example, the date letter for 1898 in London is a lowercase ‘c’, in Sheffield it is a lowercase 'f' and in Birmingham it is a lowercase ‘y’. This is why it is important to find the town mark before you try to find the date letter.The Maker’s mark was initially a picture, but this practice was superseded by using the first two letters of the maker’s surname and later the initials.
The prime purpose of these marks is to show that the metal of the item upon which they are stamped is of a certain level of purity.
There are simply too many maker's marks for a pocket guide to include, and so to find the maker one needs to refer to a variety of large reference books.
Most people would need to rely on the dealer or auction room from which the item was bought to identify the maker. with those simple steps, you can quite easily decipher the hallmarks on any piece of British silver made in the last 500 years.
Whilst looking for the date letter, you need to bear in mind that the font, it’s capitalisation and the shape of the background, known as the shield, are varied in each cycle of letters.
So, although, only 20 letters are used, it is possible to know exactly which year that particular combination of font, and shield is referring to.
Note that dublin is unique in using the same mark for the town mark and the standard mark. However, the crowned harp is often seen with another mark called the Hibernia which is similar to the Brittania Silver Mark of a seated lady.