Sterling Silver Hallmarks
Hallmarks for sterling silver date back to the fourteenth century in the UK when Edward I enacted a statute for the assay and marking of silver articles to a specific standard. These marks were probably the earliest form of consumer protection, guaranteeing that the hallmarked object was made from 92.5% silver - sterling silver.
The first Assay Office was established in Goldsmiths Hall in 1478 - thus "Hall"-marked.
In the past there have been ten Assay Offices in the UK. Exeter, Chester, Glasgow, Newcastle, Norwich and York have all closed over the last two hundred years leaving London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh.
On your sterling silver Christening present you will see the mark of one of these Assay Offices:
The Anchor of the Birmingham Assay Office
The Leopard's Head of the London Assay Office
The Yorkshire Rose of the Sheffield Assay Office
The Castle of the Edinburgh Assay Office
Other marks you will find on your Christening gift include:
The "Fineness" or purity mark for 925 parts per 1000 (millesimal mark)
The traditional mark for British Sterling Silver, the Lion Passant
The sponsor's mark or marker's mark - usually the company's initials
The year mark - "h" is the date letter for 2007. "g" = 2006, "f" = 2005 etc
The legal, compulsory part of the UK hallmark only consists of the sponsor or maker's mark, the assay office mark, and the standard of fineness 925 mark, but in reality you will find the additional marks on the majority of our Christening presents and Baptism gifts.
There is an exemption from hallmarking by weight: compulsory hallmarks are not needed on silver under 7.78g in weight, so on some of our smaller items (for example Christening jewellery) the hallmark may not be present.
For more information on the UK Hallmarking and Assay system please visit the sites below.
Further details of the Goldsmiths' Company directory of contemporary British silversmiths, jewellers and medallists can be found at: Who's Who in Gold and Silver