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Thanks to the "date letter" any piece of British sterling silver can be exactly dated. Old Sheffield Plate and Electroplated silver are not subject to this practice and the regulation issued by the authorities had the main objective of preventing possible frauds by unscrupulous sellers of plated ware. & Howson Hayne & Cater Hennell family Holland Aldwinckle & Slater Horton & Allday Hukin & Heath W. Jamieson Lambert & Co Lamerie Latham & Morton Levi & Salaman C. 1896)- the date of registration of the pattern at the Patent Office - the presence of a dated dedication- the date of the event (example: King/Queen Coronation or Jubilee commemorative spoons). - "Ltd" or "Ld" on the mark denotes a date after 1861 (but in most cases not before 1890) - a registered number (Rd followed by a number) denotes a date after 1883 - "England" denotes a date after 1891 (mandatory for export in the USA - Mc Kinley Tariff Act of 1890-) - "Made in England" denotes a 20th century date (mandatory after 1921 for export in the USA) The largest manufacturers introduced, on a voluntary basis, a dating system of their silver plate based on series of letters of various style contained into shields or geometric figures. Marriages Look out for ''marriages'', in which the parts from two or more pieces are combined to make a single, and supposedly better piece.

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The latter is usually a sign of over-cleaning with harsh chemicals.For identification purposes, the good news is that most British silver is marked with at least four symbols: the ''sterling'' mark, which guarantees the purity of the silver; the ''town'' mark, which denotes the location of the assay office that assessed the silver; the date mark (in the form of a letter); and the maker's mark of the particular silversmith.Other marks may appear in addition to these four, including a sovereign's head (from 1784-1890) denoting a tax had been paid on the metal.Leading British makers It's an old adage that fashions come and go, but quality pieces retain their value throughout.