June 16, 2010

English Silver Hallmarks

A few posts ago, I talked about English silver hallmarks, which, to me is a fascinating subject. It is quite simple to date English silver, as long as you can crack the code of the hallmarks, and there are plenty of books and resources to help you with this.6-10 007

One of the reasons I bought the camera that I currently own is that it had the capability to take pictures of the hallmarks on some silver I had been given. In fact, I took a piece of silver with me to make sure that the camera I bought was capable of taking pictures in such minute detail. The marks are tiny, some less than 1/16th of an inch, so it takes either good eyes or a good camera to be able to decipher them.

Here are some examples. These are four small salt cellars.  inventory 003I knew that they were English silver, because it was in the documents that I got which listed their provenance. These pictures are for the insurance inventory I made, so I marked right on the image what they were.

inventory 006The marks, starting with the three together, from left to right, are: Lion Passant, which always means England. The next mark looks to be a shield of some sort, but it’s actually a lion’s head without a crown, marking it as dating from after 1821. To further narrow it, the R in the shield marks the date as 1892. The leftmost mark is the maker, which, in this case could be Thomas Ash, indicated by the AS.

In this piece, a silver thistle pin with a rock crystal stone in the center,  inventory 038x has a different set of marks.inventory 149xThe anchor is for Birmingham. The lion passant, which means on four feet, is next to it, indicating England, and the capital B in shield dates it from 1850. The F.N mark is not listed on the site I use, so further research must be done.

Here are some of the London year marks. As you can see, the backgrounds change, the style of the letters change and the capitalization changes. london-silver-date-marks2 The website for English Silver Hallmarks is a fascinating place to learn about silver hallmarks over the past several hundred year.


  1. On the salt cellars, it's actually a leopard's head, the mark of the London assay office.

  2. Maurie@GraciousInteriors.blogspotJune 17, 2010 at 7:51 AM

    Reading your blog is always educating! Thank you for sending me on a quest.

  3. SO interesting. My mother has some old silver with this, I am going to take a look next time I am at her house.

  4. Now I just need some English silver to decipher! LOL
    LOVE that scottish pin :-)

  5. Meg,
    This is interesting. I'll have to dig around and see what I have.

  6. I'm with YOU, Artie!!! Meg, this was VERY interesting. Thanks for sharing! Now, about those salt sellers.....are you parting with them?

  7. Vickie... not getting rid of these. they're family pieces, entrusted to me to eventually give to my nieces and nephews.

  8. Wonderfully informative. I will bookmark and get to work on my silver.

  9. The mark in the centre is actually a leopard's head, not a lion's head, and shows that the salt cellars were marked by the London Assay Office - it's the equivalent of the Birmingham anchor you show on the next pics. The leopard's head was used by London from 1544 onwards and the exact style of the mark will give you an additional clue about the period that the piece was made (forgers have been caught out by using an old year marking with a more modern leopard's head!).

  10. i have a whole bunch of U.S. Navy plates that have a hallmark on them looking something like a sheet music type thing... does anybody have any kind of information on it? so far from what ive found its from WW 1 or 2. Please let me know if anybody knows anything, thanks in advance, Kristina.

    1. Kristina... check this site: http://www.silverpattern.com/patterns_in_silverplate.htm or this one: http://www.925-1000.com/


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