Dating sterling silver hallmarks
Fortunately, with the use of a single reference book, it is possible for even a complete novice to decipher the vast majority.Although there are many books on the market which can be used to help read hallmarks, the standard book of reference, used by dealers and collectors world wide is Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks.The hallmark for sterling silver varies from nation to nation, often using distinctive historic symbols, although Dutch and UK Assay offices no longer strike their traditional hallmarks exclusively in their own territories and undertake assay in other countries using marks that are the same as those used domestically.
French silver also is punched with the mark of the maker.
Hallmarks are applied with a hammer and punch, a process that leaves sharp edges and spurs of metal.
Therefore, hallmarking is generally done before the piece goes for its final polishing.
These five nations have, historically, provided a wealth of information about a piece through their series of applied punches.
It should be noted that since 2015 visually identical UK Hallmarks are being struck in India and Italy by sub-offices of Birmingham & Sheffield Assay Offices respectively: London assay office hallmarks on the back of a waiter, or small square salver.
Meanwhile, a hexagonal frame represented 900 fine silver.