Hallmarking Information

Hallmarking Information



Hallmarking Information

What requires Hallmarking?

Silver, gold platinum and palladium are all considered to be precious metals and can be hallmarked here in the UK in one of the four Assay Offices https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/british-hallmarking-council or in any of the other countries that are members of the International Hallmarking Convention http://www.hallmarkingconvention.org.

How to understand Hallmarks?

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

The different symbols in a hallmark will tell you WHO made the item, WHAT standard of metal it 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 system of hallmarking was developed – a system stricter and more sophisticated than in most countries. You’ll find 4-5 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 according to their standard. These marks can only be applied out by an Assay Office. In the past most cities and towns in the UK 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/

What hallmarks are compulsory in the UK?

SPONSOR MARK – Sometimes know 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 and always proceeds the hallmark.

FINENESS MARK – tells you the standard or purity of the precious metal. Given in parts per thousand. The mark consists of three numbers.

ASSAY OFFICE MARK – shows you the symbol of the Assay Office where it was tested and marked. If the item is quite old the hallmark can be checked in the Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bradburys-Book-Hallmarks-Scottish-Platinum/dp/1872212050


What additional marks can be stamped onto precious metal alongside the hallmark?

Apart from the three marks we just mentioned, there are a number of optional marks that you might find particularly on antique silver.

Date mark – This mark was compulsory before 1999. It is always a single letter of the alphabet in a unique font. It is still used today in particular among independent jewellers. 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. An example is the Lion Rampant as seen below, it is the symbol which is used exclusively for Sterling Silver hallmarked in Scotland. We continue to use it on all of our silver.

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. These could again be checked in Bradbury’s Book of Hallmarks.


Our Scottish Silver hallmark

scottish silver hallmark
These are “punched” hallmarks that have been ‘struck’ on the silver piece using steel punches.

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:

  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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