Dating english silver plate
The most important point in identifying UK hallmarks is to find the assay town mark. There are four assay offices still in operation in the UK: London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield.
The Goldsmiths' Company Assay Office is the London hallmark - our town mark is the leopard's head.
Such rings were used to support hot plates, and this was a fine example with rococo decoration and worth about £6,000.
A closer look revealed an engraved crest on the dish ring.
English Silver Hall-Marks: Including the Marks of Origin on Scottish & Irish Silver Plate, Gold, Platinum & Sheffield Plate: With 500 of the More Important Makers Marks from 1697-1900 (Dealer Guides) "English Silver Hallmarks..." is a handy and useful guide for both collectors and dealers of electroplated silver, gold and platinum, and Old Sheffield Plate.
An especially useful aspect is that it is small enough to be carried along when visiting antique shops, flea markets, and consignment stores.
Other hallmarks, like commemorative or duty marks, can also provide clues to help you date your object.
Most experts will be able to tell the difference between solid silver and silver plate just by handling the item. To keep its shine, silver needs to be polished regularly and frequent cleaning can wear away small areas of plating, showing the base metal below - this kind of show-through is known as bleeding. In Britain there are three standard marks indicating that a piece is made from sterling silver.
The date letter, if present, should be compared to published tables of that assay office.
Prior to 1975 the date letter varied for each assay office.
Finally the sponsors' mark, which should be unique, indicates the manufacturer.
Most sponsors' marks take the form of initials surrounded by a shield design – this is important, as many different sponsors may have the same initials.Use this guide to discover some of the favorite spots where those in the know go online.