People aren’t necessarily looking only for sterling; they just want to know what they’re buying. Most of the time, you can find the answer simply by turning over the teaspoon, fish fork, ice cream saw, or cheese scoop antique flatware is that specialized. On the reverse side, you usually find an indented mark or series of marks that holds a wealth of information about the item — not only what it’s made of, but sometimes also where, when, and by whom it was made. This applies to hollowware — such as cups, bowls, teapots, and vases — too. The first step in deciphering these marks is to learn what kinds of silver are out there. Some of the oldest American silver is coin, which contains an amount of the precious metal that was set by the U. Mint for coinage after the American Revolution: Coin made from to is composed of at least

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Page 1 — click on any image for larger view. Antique saloon bar came out of Chicago. Back Bar measures 13 feet long. It is a little over 8 feet tall. And is 20 inches wide. Front bar measures nearly 15 feet long.

The Language of Silver Marks. Photo: Johnny Miller. Photo: Johnny Miller. Photo: Johnny Miller is one of the oldest and most detailed. Laws dating to the 14th century established strict requirements for marking silver; the first emblem was a crowned lion’s head to certify sterling. French silver almost always has marks on the top.

Silver jewelry marks are the hallmarks found on silver jewelry to help identify the composition and source of the jewelry. Because Sterling Silver is For examples of American silver jewelry marks, see the first article in this series, Vintage Jewelry Marks: For American silver marks visit this page: American Silver Marks on www. Note that the database includes marks used on flatware and other silver items, so you may need to search a bit to locate the company you want.

The second letter of the signature represents the initial of the last name of the artisan, and the number following is the sequential number assigned to that artisan.

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Collecting the Coins of France by Ralph Heymsfeld French coinage spans about years, beginning with the coins of Greek Colonies and the Celtic Gauls, and continuing largely uninterrupted to the present day. Although such a vast expanse of time might seem overwhelming, it also creates a wealth of numismatic opportunities. There are many periods that have not yet been fully researched, and there are fascinating areas for specialization.

The vast majority of English, Scottish and Irish silver produced in the last years is stamped with either 4 or 5 symbols, known as hallmarks. The prime purpose of these marks is to show that the metal of the item upon which they are stamped is of a certain level of purity.

If you choose collecting antique silver as your main antique interest, you should make sure you know the general history and the historical periods associated with collectable silver. Silver is a precious metal. Silver products are usually made from an alloy of pure silver and a small proportion of a base metal such as copper to improve strength and durability. The proportion of pure silver varies according to standards set by different countries, such as the Britannia Standard, the sterling silver standard and the various countries assay marks, which are also known as silver hallmarks.

Ever since silver was discovered it has been fashioned into highly decorative objects and personal objects of great beauty, and these can be of prime interest to the silver collector. Silver has been classed as a precious metal for a very long time and today it is probably cheaper in real terms than it has ever been. Antique Silver is a recycleable material and the prices paid for scrap metals in the modern world varies enormously on a day to day basis.

Today there are stories of antique dealers selling rare and precious antique silver objects for their scrap weight value, as often the scrap value is currently bringing in more than selling the item as an antique piece. The Creation of Antique Silver Hallmarks. Antique Silver markings were first used in England in the 14th century and the story goes that around a silversmith called Philip Stubbs complained of the widespread use, by unscrupulous silversmiths, of drossie rubbage or refuse metal.

This was alloyed with silver to make the metal tougher and more malleable, but obviously decreased the amount of pure silver in a piece and was cheaper than the actual silver. Silver has always been alloyed with small amounts of other metals and this has continued through the ages to the modern age, making it very useful for collectors, firstly as an accurate form of dating and history as well as being quite possibly one of the first forms of consumer protection.

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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.

they are common on elaborately made silver items, sometimes with clear intention to deceive buyers, thus being proper forgery, sometimes the items were openly sold as replicas of the 18th french silver.

Harp Today, the metal purity is tested, by taking a scrape from each article and subjecting the scrape to an electronic analysis. In the past, several other methods were used. The earliest method was by the touch rubbing the metal on a touch-stone and comparing those rubbings with a sample of known pure silver , a later alternative was by crucible which involves the melting away of all impurities and comparing the resultant weight of pure silver with the weight of the original sample.

The Date letter Each assay office had its own cycle of letters, with each cycle using a different style of lettering. It is therefore possible to provide an exact date of manufacture for every piece of English, Scottish and Irish hallmarked silver. London used a 20 year cycle using the letters A to U, Birmingham used a 25 year cycle, others had varying lengths. Sheffield assay office used a very complicated system, with no apparent order in its early years. From the four assay offices used the same date letter system.

The date letter, up until , changed in May on St. Dunstan’s Day – the patron saint of silversmiths of each year. From the date letter was changed every year on January 1st.


The passage of time and repair work has marred or eliminated marks from many pieces making them harder to identify the precious metal content, the country of manufacturer or the maker. The British only used 18 or 22 karat gold during this time. The karatage is usually the karat number, followed by a c, ct, or carat.

What are Silver Jewelry Marks? Silver jewelry marks are the hallmarks found on silver jewelry to help identify the composition and source of the jewelry.

What is the difference between “antique” and “vintage”? Strictly speaking antique items must be at least years old and vintage must be at least 50 years old, BUT, I have used the terms rather loosely, based more on stylistic characteristics than strictly on age. It is often very difficult to date a rosary because some styles were used for decades.

I try my best to describe a general age for the rosaries. New to me is ‘s to the present and you will not find many rosaries on my site of this age. How do I know it is silver? This is the reason items had to be marked with “sterling”, ” “, ” ” etc.. Older items may be marked but it wasn’t required. European silver that was not imported into the US may have a makers’ stamp only.

Truely antique items rarely have “sterling” stamped on them, so you can be pretty sure they are from to the present if it has “sterling” stamped on it. Silver marked ” ” means it is Silver plate on old rosaries is often worn through the plating and you can see a hint of copper or brass showing through. A very worn crucifix or center that has all the characteristics of silver and shows no underlying metal is most likely solid silver but without testing you can not be truly positive about this.


Rare, maker marked example, mark is faint but it belongs to Arthus Bertrand in Paris. There were considerably less awards to civilians in comparison to the military. Nice gilding and excellent enamel, ribbon shows wear. A very nice example. Complete with original ribbon and silver star device.

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Metal setting is an silver with gold vermeil. An exquisite set with a strong personality! The cameo carvings depict Athena, Greek Goddess of wisdom and military victory. All pieces are in very good condition including clasps and fasteners. Size 7; Turkish silver hallmark. Screw Back Closures Cameos:


The prime purpose of these marks is to show that the metal of the item upon which they are stamped is of a certain level of purity. The metal is tested and marked at special offices, regulated by the government, known as assay offices. Only metal of the required standard will be marked. It is a form of consumer protection, whose origin goes back almost years. Fortunately, with the use of a single reference book, it is possible for even a complete novice to decipher the vast majority.

Types of Silver. Real antique silver is never without value but there are a few details which you will need. The first thing you will want to do is to clean the silver thoroughly so that you can more easily read backstamps and markings.

The small bigorne with two horns, one flat and the other rounded, bearing engraved triangles and lozenges with linear designs and letters. This series was further distinguished by having one set for Paris and another set for the Provinces. The surface of the anvil is covered with varied and finely drawn engravings of various insects which mark the underside of the silver article when it is struck on the upper side with the guarantee mark.

The assayer placed the item on the horn of the anvil, then placed the Minerva or other punch on the item, and struck the Minerva punch with a mallet. Through the force of the strike both marks were created simultaneously. For this reason a bigorne mark will be found opposite the guarantee mark. The bigorne dies are so complex that two similar strikes could not be obtained. There are three types of bigorne used according the object size:

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Having first identified the makers marks, place of origin and age of your items makes it easier to research them further. Likewise, appraising and evaluating your items by finding similar examples that have actually sold, helps you determine their worth and gives you a better understanding of current market conditions. In turn, this valuable information leads to better decisions when buying or selling and can prevent costly mistakes in paying too much or selling too low.

It also helps in describing or listing your items using the correct terms to attract more buyers. And in the case of family heirlooms, it enables you to delve more deeply into their history.

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Hallmarks can help identify the maker, the date, and the original location of foreign silver. There are thousands of different hallmarks on pieces of silver from around the world. However, by understanding a few common marks, it’s possible to get a general idea of the country of origin. Using a hallmark guide to back up some basic knowledge, it’s possible to identify foreign silver hallmarks. Flip the silver item over and search for a hallmark or any kind of imprint. Use a magnifying glass or jeweler’s loupe to get a clear image of the mark.

Older silver can often have indistinct hallmarks. Search for a crescent moon mark and a crown next to a stamp with the digits ” Find a mark that looks like a lion facing left, surrounded by a rectangular border. This is the Lion Passant–a mark of English silver from the early 18th century to the modern era. Check for what appears to be a soldier’s head looking to the right. This is Minerva, the mark of French silver, from the late 18th century to the current period.


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Special thanks is given to Shirley Wiesmann who has compiled this data and we hope you will find it helpful. Silver Definitions Pure Silver has a brilliant white metallic luster. It is very ductile and malleable below gold and palladium one of the platinum metals. In order for Pure Silver to be hard enough and suitable for arts and crafts including jewelry, it must be alloyed with other metallic components which helps to make it hard enough and suitable for crafting.

Designers have crafted bead chains, chokers, necklaces, earrings, pendants, rings, bracelets, hair clips, brooches and jewelry sets using Pure Silver and an alloy additive. Products that have been crafted out of Pure Silver with alloys are ecclesiastical of the church and domestic plate, flatware, jewelry, buttons, buckles, boxes, toilet articles to name a few. This silver content tarnishes more slowly than sterling. The metal will not wear down.

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