Hallmarking Information

HALLMARKING INFORMATION

 

What requires a Hallmark?

By law in the UK, precious metals over a stipulated weight i.e; Platinum, Gold, Silver and Palladium which are intended for sale are required to carry a hallmark.

A hallmark can only be applied by one of the four UK Assay Offices. More information can be found in this guidance leaflet issued by the British Hallmarking Council.

Hallmarks which are applied by member countries of the International Hallmarking Convention are also accepted.

 

History

If you are considering investing in some precious metal or interested in antiques it is helpful to understand what hallmarks mean.

The different symbols in a hallmark will tell you who made the item, what the standard of metal is, where it was hallmarked and possibly the date when it was hallmarked.

The art of hallmarking in the UK has a long history; it dates back 700 years, when a rigorous and very sophisticated system of hallmarking was developed. You’ll find 3-5 of these authenticating marks on most old English, Scottish and Irish silver and gold. It is, in fact, the oldest form of consumer protection known in the world.

Hallmarks are proof that the article has been independently tested and stamped. In the UK, these marks can only be applied by an Assay Office. In the past most cities and towns had an office but these days there are only 4 remaining in London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh. The office that we use is Edinburgh http://www.edinburghassayoffice.co.uk/

 

Compulsory hallmarks

SPONSOR MARK – Sometimes known as the Makers mark, this unique mark tells you the person or company responsible for sending the article to the Assay Office. It is normally 2 or 3 initials in a surrounding shape. This mark can be applied by the maker prior to being sent for hallmarking but it must be present before the official hallmarks can be applied by the Assay Office.

 

FINENESS MARK – This important mark will tell you what type of metal it is as well as the purity. Given in parts per thousand. For example, sterling silver is 925 – which indicates that 92.5% is silver and the remaining 7.5% is an approved base metal alloy such as copper which is needed to provide strength to the relatively soft metal. The higher the precious metal content of the metal, the softer it is.

 

ASSAY OFFICE MARK – shows you the symbol of the Assay Office where it was tested and marked. A Castle indicates an Edinburgh mark. The other office symbols can be found above under the BHC guidance notes.

 

Optional hallmarks

Apart from the three marks we just mentioned, there are a number of optional marks that you can ask for.

 

DATE MARK – This mark was compulsory before 1999 but it is still widely used. It is always a single letter of the alphabet in a unique font and surrounding shape and follows the compulsory marks.

You can check a date letter here https://theassayoffice.co.uk/send-us-your-hallmarking/date-letters

 

TRADITIONAL PURITY MARK – prior to 1999, silver and platinum finesses were indicated by symbols instead of numbers. The Rampant or Passant Lion stood for sterling silver and the head of Pallas Athena stood for Palladium.

We continue to use the Lion Rampant which is the symbol for Sterling Silver exclusively hallmarked in Scotland.

 

COMMEMORATIVE MARK – these are special marks that can be added to a piece in honour of a significant national event for a dedicated period of time, usually a year. Examples of these are the Millennium Mark and the Queens Diamond Jubilee mark. Having this type of mark can make an item more collectible in the future.

 

COMMON CONTROL MARK – also called a Convention mark. Given to ensure safe cross border trade of precious metals between the member countries of the International Convention as mentioned above. The UK has been a member since 1972. This means that an article intended for sale in the UK with an international common control mark from a member country doesn’t have to be remarked with an equivalent UK hallmark.

 

There are also a number of hallmarks that aren’t used anymore, such as duty marks, import marks and standard marks. If you were interested in learning more about old hallmarks a good guide is the Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks.

 

Our Hallmark

Compliance

If you intend to sell precious metals in the UK, by law you must display what is called a Section 11 Dealer’s notice which can be viewed or downloaded here

If you are unsure about a hallmark or the purity of the metal you can contact your local Trading Standards Authority.

 

Assurance

These days, for many of us eCommerce or online shopping is extremely popular, but when you are purchasing you still want the assurance that the quality is the same standard as what you’d get in a retail outlet when you can handle and examine the goods. To give our customers peace of mind we have our website audited regularly by an Independent entity which was set up by the Edinburgh Assay Office called Assay Assured. This audit ensures that all products are accurately described and we display clear information about precious metal and hallmarking for consumers. They can also act as a mediator should a dispute ever arise. Our website carries the Assay Assured Trustmark – more details can be found here

 

Identify your Silver

Do you need assistance identifying your silver piece? We are specialists in the metal industry and offer a free and efficient service to help you distinguish a hallmark.

Please follow this link to submit images and a description of your piece. We will respond promptly!

 

34 thoughts on “Hallmarking Information

  1. Philip Hancock says:

    I have a Scottish mull with a silver top. It has only two marks the traditional lion and a date stamp for the letter “n”

    Is it unusual not to have an Assay office mark? How can I tell when it was made.

    Thank you for your time

    • Charlie says:

      Hello Philip

      Mulls often dont have a full set of marks depending on how early they were made; the marks will be those of the Assay Office and probably in Edinburgh. If you wish please send a good photo of the mull and the marks and we will see if we can help. email me:
      charlie@scottishsilver.com

  2. Richard says:

    I have an old knife with a. Bone handle it only has letters for marks and no symbols it was bought in Edinburgh the marks are EPNS , any thoughts

  3. Brigid says:

    I have a salt spoon (I think) which has the mark Mc (the c is superscript) thistle d (in a rectangle with I think a wavy base so probably 1903-4) and then a sovereign head facing right (which as far as I have been able to find would be 1835 but is it 1835 onwards) I’m wondering it this is genuine mark as although the spoon handle appears to be silver I’m thinking the bowl may be plated and there is s distinct line at the top of the bowl stem and the bowl has completely discolored, Any thoughts on the mark?

  4. Les says:

    Hi I’ve recently acquired a silver bowl with Glasgow assay mark and the DE GE Makers mark but it has two date letters a Z for 1896 and a smaller F underneath for 1876.
    Any ideas why this would be ??

    • Richard Turner says:

      The F means it was imported and the assay marks show the town in which it was assayed prior to sale in UK. The F was only stamped up to 1903/4, when the towns used a different town mark for imported wares.

  5. Mark says:

    I recently purchased tiny salt/pepper set and I am trying to determine the age and the marks.
    Shaped like small bullets, 15mm dia x 30mm long.
    bottom on each have three symbols (same)
    first symbol is a bird or maybe a gryphon
    second symbol is an “R” inside a shield
    third is a lion standing on hind legs and its tail shaped in “S”

    Below the three marks is word “Stirling”
    Below the word Stirling is number ” N344″

    thankyou in advance

  6. Ali says:

    I am trying to identify a 9″ sterling plate/platter. It has a lion with the front paws on a letter but which kind of looks like an upper case E. STERLING and 15 are under the lion. The lion doesn’t look like any that I have seen before. Very simplistic. Any help would be appreciated.

  7. Martha Davis says:

    I bought a sterling fork with a “running ” eagle hallmark going right, a middle chevron with R, and a rampant lion going left. Patent number and 1900. Help?

  8. Maryanne Housden says:

    I have a silver honey pot and spoon the pot is on a leaf , on the bottom it says made in england in a circle with EP in the middle it also has<III and 5770 and on the top of the circle it has M D either side of a crown.

  9. Caroline Sheehan says:

    I have a brooch – I think a kilt brooch with hallmarks TG MCCRAW then SS underneath. Any thoughts about the ‘tg mccraw’ bit would be appreciated. I think it was my great grandfathers brooch and he was a Comrie. Thanks

  10. allison ladds says:

    Hi I have two ladles not sure if they are solid silver or not, they are just over 7ins long, but I have searched and can’t find the markings anywhere. they may not even be Scottish. The markings are as follows from top to bottom – GS then I (could be a 1) then a symbol which looks like wheat or flowers tied in the middle then at a different angle to the rest separate letters J G – on one of the ladles the letters GS are at the bottom.

    • Amy says:

      Hi Janet

      Edinburgh Assay Office have a record of Neil James Martin with the initials NJM – He is based in Norway. The letter d indicates that it was hallmarked in 2003 if it is in a square chamfered. Hope this helps

  11. Michael Rice says:

    Hello from Vancouver Island BC Canada……. I’ve just acquired an award medal presented by Portsoy School in 1915. There are clear markings showing the silversmith as ” A& J. S” and “ABD” both in cartouches, which I know are from Alex and John Smith. Each side of the medal (inside the rim) is a circular lattice work overlaid on the medal itself, and this appears gilt. Gross weight is 14 grams,, and it’s about 43-44mm in diameter. Without damaging the piece to ascertain whether or not the piece (and lattice work) are sterling grade, is there any other way to determine this ? It’s (to me) an unusually ornate piece for it to be just plated. Thanks for any comments ! Regards from the Colonies…………. Michael

  12. Margaret Duncan says:

    Hi, I have a lovely weighty modernist pendant with Edinburgh hallmark for 1973/4 – can you tell me who G W S the maker is

  13. Jillian Dwyer says:

    I have bought a Luckenbooth brooch, entwined hearts with crown above and set with a citrine stone, similar in style to a Luckenbooth brooch by John Hart. The marks on the reverse are puzzling – difficult to read because they appear to have been deliberately scratched over. As far as I can make out, they resemble the Edinburgh marks for 1971 except the order is incorrect – thistle, then castle, then letter Q. There is a round circle beside the “IONA” stamp, also scratched out with a vague impression of some thing beneath. Are these forged marks? I bought this brooch for its symbolism, not its material worth, and didn’t pay too much for it. Plus it is in a good wearable condition. But interested to know what you think. Greetings from Australia.

  14. Tiana says:

    I have a few pieces of silver stamped with a thistle, lion, and the last mark I cannot make out. Before this is the initials A & L L underscore o higher up. I am not sure of what they all mean if you could help. Please

  15. James burke says:

    Hi I brought a pocket watch its got 3 loins on their hind leg s and the letter by the side and has k.b stamped plus the number42229 the letter by the loins is b can you help me ,thank you

  16. Leila says:

    Are you able to help identify these marks please, I have tried and can’t work whether it’s silver or plated. There are only two stamps .D then d and what looks like an &

    Thanks in advance

  17. danniella says:

    hi I have a quite ornate tankard,dealer told me its plated silver, would like that verified
    piece is marked 1704 marks are well rubbed it has an S across an I or a 1 a P and what could be a fancy D

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