Dating sterling silver hallmarks

27-Jul-2016 07:59

Originally this was a tax “for the encouragement of tillage”, but after 1806 when Irish silver was struck with the king’s head duty mark it became the mark signifying the Dublin Assay Office. The Hibernia mark was only introduced in 1730, and the monarch’s head mark came in in 1806, so we do not expect to see either. Unlike the first photo, the marks are not in an orderly line. Clockwise from the top left we see the harp crowned (purity), the letter “h” (1727 in this case), and TW for the maker, Thomas Walker.This pocket sized reference contains all of the marks that one is likely to encounter on a regular basis.Armed with this book, the process of reading these marks can be split into the 5 simple steps shown below.Some makers continue to use the “STERLING” mark in place of “925” even today.Vintage jewelry from other countries may have European purity marks, such as “585” for 14K gold and “750” for 18K gold, as shown in the photo below.If the king’s head faces right, it was made before 1850. The word STERLING indicates Ireland as well as America.COIN, DOLLAR, and STANDARD were usually American terms, but some Irish makers also used them.

A single mark usually indicates that the piece of silver was made in America, although there are some Irish and Scottish pieces with just the maker’s name.The earliest silversmiths in the colonies used their initials.Many makers used their last name, or first initial and last name. They were meant to mislead the public into believing that the silver was of English origin.Hallmarks are authenticating marks struck on most silver items produced or offered for sale in Ireland. Though technically they were breaking the law, this interesting quirk of history gives pieces from these locations their own unique history and charm.Since 1637 the Assay Office in Dublin Castle has been the only body with the authority to perform this task. The photo below shows typical Cork marks; JN, for John Nicholson, stamped twice, either side of the word “Sterling”.

A single mark usually indicates that the piece of silver was made in America, although there are some Irish and Scottish pieces with just the maker’s name.

The earliest silversmiths in the colonies used their initials.

Many makers used their last name, or first initial and last name. They were meant to mislead the public into believing that the silver was of English origin.

Hallmarks are authenticating marks struck on most silver items produced or offered for sale in Ireland. Though technically they were breaking the law, this interesting quirk of history gives pieces from these locations their own unique history and charm.

Since 1637 the Assay Office in Dublin Castle has been the only body with the authority to perform this task. The photo below shows typical Cork marks; JN, for John Nicholson, stamped twice, either side of the word “Sterling”.

Because it’s not possible to have a comprehensive discussion of how to identify and date vintage jewelry in a single article, this article is the first in a series, and will specifically address vintage jewelry marks.