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. 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. 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.
Dating Antique Silver Hallmarks & Silver Origins -
A hallmark is an official stamp on gold, silver and other precious metal articles, impressed by an assay office to attest their standard. English gold and silver articles have been marked by some form of hallmark since the 13th Century. This duty was originally carried out at Goldsmiths hall in London. Today there are four assay offices in the UK, although there have been several others over the intervening years.
Antique silver hallmarks have been used to control the quality of goods made of silver since the 14th century and the organisation that regulates the craft, Goldsmiths Hall, gave the world the term hallmark. This is to ensure it is of the required sterling silver standard and, provided it conforms to a standard, a series of symbols are stamped into each part of the item. Today and for the past few centuries, this stamp or silver hallmark has shown the place and year of manufacture of the assayed silver item, as well as the silversmith who made or sponsored the item.
Sheffield Plate is a cheaper substitute for sterling, produced by fusing sheets of silver to the top and bottom of a sheet of copper or base metal. This 'silver sandwich' was then worked into finished pieces. At first it was only put on one side and later was on top and bottom. Modern electroplating was invented by Italian chemist Luigi V. Brugnatelli in