Silver plate stamp dating
The marks serve several functions: * they verify that the item is of the correct quality. * where appropriate, they record that duty has been paid on the item. The year in which a piece of Irish silver was made can be determined by the date letter – this is one of the marks described above, applied by the assay office when it is hallmarked.In Ireland, sterling silver is not less than 92.5% pure silver, the rest is alloy. Below are a few examples and a guide to reading antique Irish silver hallmarks, followed by photos of as many date letters as I could manage. As there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, they are reused, which each cycle slightly different to the preceding one.If you want to learn more about famous British silversmiths then click here (an ongoing project).If you want to learn more about silver-smithing then click here.A silver object that is to be sold commercially is, in most countries, stamped with one or more silver hallmarks indicating the purity of the silver, the mark of the manufacturer or silversmith, and other (optional) markings to indicate date of manufacture and additional information about the piece.In some countries, the testing of silver objects and marking of purity is controlled by a national assayer's office.It has always been difficult to determine the purity of silver in an object by visual means and many countries have tried to establish a system of ensuring that certain standards are kept to protect customers who buy silver objects.
One of the most highly structured hallmarking systems in the world is that of the United Kingdom, (Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland), and Ireland.
Much of the charm and interest in British silver hallmarks lies in their variety and individuality.
However the main object of silver hallmarking was and is to protect the public against fraud.
What follows here is a brief overview of silver hallmarks in England, Scotland, and Ireland.
It should be used as a guide only, and we recommend using the Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks (ISBN # 0953174123).