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.

Using a British Hallmark Guide
How to quickly identify gold and Silver hallmarks that you see in car boot sales and markets.

Dating UK Hallmarks
See all the main dated hallmarks from the UK since 1678

International Hallmarks
How to identify the international hallmarks on gold, silver and platinum products.

Rare Gold and Silver Hallmarks
Hallmarks used for events, dates or hallmarks that are no longer made.

Understanding British Hallmarks
The 8 hallmarks that guarantee the quality and value on UK Assayed products.

Gold and Silver Hallmark Guide
Buy this hallmark guide for your iphone, ipod touch or mobile device for £2.99 now.

Gold hallmarks and Silver hallmarks history.

In 1238, Henry 111 commanded the mayor of London to appoint six faithful and discreet goldsmiths who would be responsible for ensuring standards for gold and silver articles.

Later, Edward 1 passed a statute requiring not only that all silver articles were to be of sterling standard, the same as coinage, but also that they were to be assayed by the Wardens of the goldsmiths’ guild and marked with a leopards head.

In 1327 the goldsmiths’ Guild received its first Royal Charter from Edward 111 which confirmed its responsibility for assaying and marking.


The worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, as the guild were later called, is still responsible for the London Assay Office.

Under another Statute in 1363, makers were ordered to stamp their own distinguishing marks alongside the leopard’s head. Originally, the maker’s mark took the form of a device, such as a cross or a fish; later, it became the practice to use the initials of the worker or the firm.

In December 1478, the company appointed a salaried assayer and compelled makers to bring their completed silverwares to Goldsmiths’ Hall to be assayed and marked before they were offered for sale; this practice has continued to the present day and is the origin of the word ‘hallmark’

In the same year, an additional mark – the date letter – was introduced by the Company. This consisted of a letter of the alphabet which was changed annually. When one alphabet cycle was completed, the style of the letter or its surrounding shield was altered.

Hallmarking continued during succeeding centuries at ‘Goldsmiths’ Hall and at the Assay Offices which were later opened in other towns, such as Newcastle, Exeter and York, where there were working goldsmiths and silversmiths.

In Scotland, there were goldsmiths working at a date as early as in England. The earliest records pertain to the goldsmiths of Edinburgh. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1773 establishing Assay Offices in Birmingham and Sheffield.

Several of the provincial offices have now closed – Newcastle, Exeter and York in the 19th Century, Chester in 1962 and Glasgow in 1964. The Dublin Assay Office, whose origins date from the early 17th Century, continues to operate in Ireland.


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