Silver dating marks


The next step is to learn the meaning of the most common silver marks.England's system of hallmarks -- a variety of official emblems stamped on silver to attest to its purity -- is one of the oldest and most detailed.Silver plate -- a coating of pure silver on a base metal such as copper or nickel silver, which is actually an alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc -- was a later development. Electroplating processes were invented in England in the 1830s and 1840s; this method is still used.Hotel silver is electroplate that was manufactured for use on trains and steamships and in restaurants and hotels.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.With the adoption of the sterling standard after the Civil War, silversmiths continued to stamp their own names on the back, along with the word sterling or the number 92.5 or 925, all of which indicate sterling quality. The Gorham company's mark was a row of three emblems: a lion (for sterling), an anchor (for its base in Rhode Island), and a "G" (its initial).Some American silversmiths mimicked British hallmarks to lend their wares prestige -- rather than to convey specific information.



People aren't necessarily looking only for sterling; they just want to know what they're buying.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.Laws dating to the 14th century established strict requirements for marking silver; the first emblem was a crowned lion's head to certify sterling.



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