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A false silver hallmark has always been treated with the utmost severity by the law and in the past a silversmith was pilloried for their first offence, where they would be pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables.If they offended again, a limb would be hacked off and, until the 1720’s, the death penalty was the usual sentence meted out to persistent offenders.For two years it was crowned, but has been struck ever since in its present form by all English Assay Offices.The first London silver hallmark to be used was the leopards head, in the year 1300.The mark of origin is the Harp Crowned and it appears with a date letter and maker’s mark. Simply learn to recognise those Antique Silver Hallmarks.Learning how to define the origin of a piece of silver, the year made and the silversmith is great fun and also a way of perhaps finding a rare item that was made in a particular year or city.Today, Gorham is perhaps best known for its silverware which it produces in hundreds of well known pattens including Chantilly (the best selling flatware pattern in the world), Strasbourg, Melrose, Fairfax, and Buttercup.

The laws governing silver hallmarking are very strict and if an item does not comply with a standard the item will not be hallmarked and will probably be destroyed.

These tests are carried out only by an Assay Office, of which there are four in the UL – London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh. Gold and silver hallmarks Understanding British or English hallmarking since 1238 Dating Silver by Assay and Fineness marks Quickly decide whether the your object is pre 1975 and its original Assay office.

The Hallmarking Act 1973 changed on 1 January 1999 and allows articles of higher and lower standards of fineness to be sold. Consumers may now choose from a much wider range of goods but to continue to benefit from the same level of protection. Using a British Hallmark Guide How to quickly identify gold and Silver hallmarks that you see in car boot sales and markets.

In that year, a decree by Edward I laid down that silver or gold could not be made or sold unless it was marked by the leopard’s head or The King’s Mark, as it was then known.

This mark became crowned in 1478 and remained crowned until 1821.


  1. Confusing Marks on Sterling Silver and Silver Plate. Marks on precious metals have been regulated by law since ancient times. imitates an original by Gorham.

  2. Gorham Date Marks - Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks

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