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Identifying Silver Hallmarks

Buying Antique Silver - Some Guidelines For The Collector.

Buying a piece of antique silver can be quite a daunting exercise, especially if it is an expensive piece. However if the guidelines in this article are followed then the buyer will have a sound base from which to act. Never be frightened to ask the dealer questions, as all reputable dealers are more than willing to help. There are many good books on the market that give details of hallmarks. Amongst them are Bradbury’s; Jacksons’s Hallmarks and Miller’s Guide to Buying Silver. All are available in good bookshops and are an excellent source of information..

Silver Hallmark identification, what to look for when buying antique silver

The above example shows 'grouping' of hallmarks on a silver punchbowl. The hallmarks will not always be in the same position but should all support each other.

1 - Maker's Mark - Richard Martin & Ebenezer Hall.
2 - Lion Passant - Sterling Silver Mark.
3 - Assay Office Mark - London Post 1821.
4 - Date Letter -‘E’ for 1880.
5 -Monarch’s Head -(Victoria) showing duty paid.
NB Monarch’s Head no longer stamped after 2nd May 1890

A further example (shown below) shows:

Silver Ladle from Wheathills stock of antique silver
1 - Maker's Mark - Mackay & Chisholm.
2 - Monarch's Head(Victoria) showing duty paid. Discontinued after 1890.
3 - Assay Office Mark - Edinburgh Assay Office
4 - Thistle indicating sterling silver. This is the Assay Master’s Mark and is equivalent to the lion passant in England
5 -Date Letter - 1861 (Different shape E from first example).

When Buying Antique Silver Use The Following Checklist

1. Is the piece fully marked?
2. Are all the hallmarks consistent with the purported date of the piece?
3. Are any of the hallmarks distorted, over-struck or in an unusual position?
4. If there are several pieces in the set do they all carry the same hallmarks?
5. Are there any signs of repair or damage to the piece?
6. Will the dealer give you a receipt giving full details of the piece, its date and details of the hallmarks? –IF NOT RE-CONSIDER BUYING IT
7. Do you like the piece?
8. Buy the very best that you can afford but always look for value for money
9. Do not rely on the piece to rise in value and bring a large profit

We hope that you found this information of assistance or interest. Whilst you are on the Wheathills site why not visit our beautiful Marquetry Memory Box section, they are like no other in the world.

Further features on hallmark identification can be found on our blog.

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