HOW TO READ SILVER HALLMARKS

What are silver hallmarks?

 

Silver hallmarks are made up from four main elements.  The date letter, the town mark, the maker’s or sponsor’s mark and the lion passant.  In the 18th century duty was payable on silver and a duty mark was added which ran from 1784-1890

What do silver hallmarks mean?

 

Silver hallmarks imply that your item of silver tests as a minimum 92.5% pure silver, which is the sterling standard.  They are the earliest form of consumer protection and from 1300 no item of silver was allowed to be sold until it was tested as being sterling silver.

When did silver hallmarks start?

 

The first mark (the crowned Leopard’s head) was introduced in 1300 and was applied by the goldsmiths.  In 1327 the first guild was established and silver was then tested and marked at the guild halls, hence, hallmarks.

How to read silver hallmarks

 

If you have watched out eight part video guide you will already know what all the parts of a hallmark mean (if not you can watch the videos here).  This page will help you put all of that information together so you can read the hallmark and identify where your silver was made, who made it and when it was made.

There is a contact form at the bottom of this page if you would like to get in touch with any questions.  We are also able to help value and sell your silver for you too.  So if you have any silver you would like identified and value please get in touch.

What are silver hallmarks?

 

Silver hallmarks are made up from four main elements.  The date letter, the town mark, the maker’s or sponsor’s mark and the lion passant.  In the 18th century duty was payable on silver and a duty mark was added which ran from 1784-1890

What do silver hallmarks mean?

 

Silver hallmarks imply that your item of silver tests as a minimum 92.5% pure silver, which is the sterling standard.  They are the earliest form of consumer protection and from 1300 no item of silver was allowed to be sold until it was tested as being sterling silver.

When did silver hallmarks start?

 

The first mark (the crowned Leopard’s head) was introduced in 1300 and was applied by the goldsmiths.  In 1327 the first guild was established and silver was then tested and marked at the guild halls, hence, hallmarks.

How to read silver hallmarks

 

If you have watched out eight part video guide you will already know what all the parts of a hallmark mean (if not you can watch the videos here).  This page will help you put all of that information together so you can read the hallmark and identify where your silver was made, who made it and when it was made.

There is a contact form at the bottom of this page if you would like to get in touch with any questions.  We are also able to help value and sell your silver for you too.  So if you have any silver you would like identified and value please get in touch.

How to read a hallmark step 1 – locate the mark

The first step in learning how to read a hallmark is to locate your marks.  If the mark is a little rubbed then you can breath on it (like you would to make condensation appear on a window) and the mark will become a little clearer.

The mark illustrated here is from a silver fork and we shall use it as an example here.  

We will now make the next steps to decipher where the item was made, when it was made and who made it.

silver hallmark

How to read a hallmark step 1 – locate the mark

The first step in learning how to read a hallmark is to locate your marks.  If the mark is a little rubbed then you can breath on it (like you would to make condensation appear on a window) and the mark will become a little clearer.

The mark illustrated here is from a silver fork and we shall use it as an example here.  

We will now make the next steps to decipher where the item was made, when it was made and who made it.

silver hallmark
Here is the standard mark - it is a lion passant.  If your item does not have this mark it is unlikely to be silver.
Here is the standard mark – it is a lion passant. If your item does not have this mark it is unlikely to be silver.

How to read a hallmark step 2 – the standard mark

The standard mark identifies your item as being silver.  The mark for sterling silver is the lion passant or the lion passant guardant.  Both look like a lion in profile.  On earlier pieces of silver the lion is looking toward you, and this is a lion passant guardant.

If your item is Scottish it will have a thistle as the standard mark.

Not all pieces of silver have a standard mark, but this is the exception to the rule.  If your item does not have a standard mark then it is more than likely silver plate.  There are no rules or regulations governing silver plate marks so this guide will not be helpful if your item is silver plate.

How to read a hallmark step 2 – the standard mark

The standard mark identifies your item as being silver.  The mark for sterling silver is the lion passant or the lion passant guardant.  Both look like a lion in profile.  On earlier pieces of silver the lion is looking toward you, and this is a lion passant guardant.

If your item is Scottish it will have a thistle as the standard mark.

Not all pieces of silver have a standard mark, but this is the exception to the rule.  If your item does not have a standard mark then it is more than likely silver plate.  There are no rules or regulations governing silver plate marks so this guide will not be helpful if your item is silver plate.

Here is the standard mark - it is a lion passant.  If your item does not have this mark it is unlikely to be silver.
Here is the standard mark – it is a lion passant. If your item does not have this mark it is unlikely to be silver.

How to read a hallmark step 3 – the town mark

Now you know your item is made of sterling silver you can look for the town mark.  This identifies where your item was made and correct attribution is crucial for the next steps.

You can look up the most common town marks here.

In our example the town mark is in the form of a Leopards head.  This means we will need to turn to the London section in our hallmark guide for the next step.

 

The Leopards head represents the town mark for London.  It does change slightly over the years and it may have a crown if it is pre-1820.
The Leopards head represents the town mark for London. It does change slightly over the years and it may have a crown if it is pre-1820.

How to read a hallmark step 3 – the town mark

Now you know your item is made of sterling silver you can look for the town mark.  This identifies where your item was made and correct attribution is crucial for the next steps.

You can look up the most common town marks here.

In our example the town mark is in the form of a Leopards head.  This means we will need to turn to the London section in our hallmark guide for the next step.

 

The Leopards head represents the town mark for London.  It does change slightly over the years and it may have a crown if it is pre-1820.
The Leopards head represents the town mark for London. It does change slightly over the years and it may have a crown if it is pre-1820.
This is the date letter for London 1859.
This is the date letter for London 1859.

How to read a hallmark step 4 – the date letter

The date letter tells us what year the item was hallmarked in.  In order to read it you will need a hallmark guide (which you can buy here) or you can use an online guide here.

In our example we have clicked to the London pages and have found the corresponding letter:

Note that the shield can vary slightly but the font and shape of the letter is exactly the same

 

How to read a hallmark step 4 – the date letter

The date letter tells us what year the item was hallmarked in.  In order to read it you will need a hallmark guide (which you can buy here) or you can use an online guide here.

In our example we have clicked to the London pages and have found the corresponding letter:

Note that the shield can vary slightly but the font and shape of the letter is exactly the same

 

This is the date letter for London 1859.
This is the date letter for London 1859.

How to read a hallmark step 5 – the maker’s mark

So now we know that our item is made of silver and was assayed in Birmingham in 1859.  Now we can look at the maker’s mark (also known as the sponsor’s mark) to see what company or person made the item.

The easiest way is to use this website.  As with the date letter we need to go to the London pages.  If you go to another town by mistake you can easily miss-read the mark and get the maker entirely wrong.

To correctly identify the maker Henry Holland on our piece of silver we selected the London pages, then the H pages, then the H.H marks, then compared our marks to all of the H.H marks listed.

You need to ensure that the shape of the shield, the font and punctuation of the letters and the dates that the maker was known to work all match up.

This is the maker's mark for Henry Holland (of Holland, Aldwinckle
This is the maker’s mark for Henry Holland (of Holland, Aldwinckle & Slater)

How to read a hallmark step 5 – the maker’s mark

So now we know that our item is made of silver and was assayed in Birmingham in 1859.  Now we can look at the maker’s mark (also known as the sponsor’s mark) to see what company or person made the item.

The easiest way is to use this website.  As with the date letter we need to go to the London pages.  If you go to another town by mistake you can easily miss-read the mark and get the maker entirely wrong.

To correctly identify the maker Henry Holland on our piece of silver we selected the London pages, then the H pages, then the H.H marks, then compared our marks to all of the H.H marks listed.

You need to ensure that the shape of the shield, the font and punctuation of the letters and the dates that the maker was known to work all match up.

This is the maker's mark for Henry Holland (of Holland, Aldwinckle
This is the maker’s mark for Henry Holland (of Holland, Aldwinckle & Slater)
The hallmarks for Henry Holland, London 1859.  If you would like to sell your silver or would like some help identifying your marks use the form below.
The hallmarks for Henry Holland, London 1859. If you would like to sell your silver or would like some help identifying your marks use the form below.

Help and advice identifying your hallmark

In just a few minutes we were able to identify that our piece of silver was made in London in 1859 by Henry Holland. 

As long as you follow all of the above steps carefully you will now be able to identify and silver hallmark.

If you want help identifying your silver hallmark then why not use the form below or email us some crisp images of the marks and we will be able to help.

Please make sure the images are clear so we can help you.

We can also provide you with a valuation of your silver and help you sell it to ensure you get the best possible price.

Help and advice identifying your hallmark

In just a few minutes we were able to identify that our piece of silver was made in London in 1859 by Henry Holland. 

As long as you follow all of the above steps carefully you will now be able to identify and silver hallmark.

If you want help identifying your silver hallmark then why not use the form below or email us some crisp images of the marks and we will be able to help.

Please make sure the images are clear so we can help you.

We can also provide you with a valuation of your silver and help you sell it to ensure you get the best possible price.

The hallmarks for Henry Holland, London 1859.  If you would like to sell your silver or would like some help identifying your marks use the form below.
The hallmarks for Henry Holland, London 1859. If you would like to sell your silver or would like some help identifying your marks use the form below.

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If you would like a free, no obligation valuation of your silver please use the form below.

You can also email details about your silver to [email protected] or call us on 01270 440357.

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We have helped sell hundreds of items for our clients.  You can read their reviews by searching Google, Yell or Facebook for Mark Littler.  Here is just a selection.

Helpful, knowledgeable, professional and got me a good deal with the minimum of effort.Great communication and an easy trustworthy person to deal with.I would definitely recommend Mark and have no hesitation in dealing with him again.Many thanks from Mel Cross.
Mel Cross
Mel Cross
17:04 26 Jun 17
I had some old coins to sell, and had no real idea how to get the best price for them. Mark found a buyer who paid a fair price, better than I would have got at either auction or to a 'cash for gold' type company. Whole process was fast, professional and of all, lucrative!
martin corlett-moss
martin corlett-moss
08:13 18 May 17
Great service from Mark Littler. Very nice and extremely helpful. Always kept in contact and made the process an easy one. Would definitely recommend to anyone selling any bottle.
Emily Foulds
Emily Foulds
08:06 26 Jun 17
Mark has been a great help and has offered a service that I haven't come across before. He presents different options and explains procedures very clearly. He has been patient and encouraging with my questions. I love his enthusiasm and his obvious expertise and knowledge. The icing on the cake! He comes to my house, takes away things (that have some value) I don't want anymore and sells them for me. He makes it so easy.
Christine Chevalier
Christine Chevalier
17:50 05 Mar 17
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george Coventry
george Coventry
08:57 27 Jun 17
Mark delivered a superb service from start to finish. I was unsure about many things at the beginning of the process, and he helped me come to the right decision without rushing me or making me feel under 'sales' pressure. His knowledge is outstanding. Highly recommended.
carolyne osner
carolyne osner
07:41 21 Jul 17
Mark took the time to listen and understand what I wanted to do re the sale of my furniture and was proactive in finding me a good buyer. Sale went through quickly and with no hitches. A very good service overall.
Steve Carr
Steve Carr
10:50 30 Jul 17
Mark was very helpful and professional. He knows a lot about his antiques and was very honest about our deal. He was very organised and prompt when we met and everything went through smoothly. Great service, would be happy to deal with him again anytime.Thankyou MarkDavid
David Brickell
David Brickell
09:25 31 Jul 17
Mark sold a cask of whisky which I had inherited and did not know what to do with. The offer I got through Mark was much higher than the distillery had offered me and the whole process was simple and best of all, profitable! He explained all of the steps I needed to take in a straightforward manner and no question was too small for him to answer. Well recommended.
James Harwood
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10:34 01 Aug 17
Mark has been brilliant since the very first email through to payment. I had contacted a few people about some whiskey and port I had for sale and he was by far the most professional. He achieved a price three times the amount I had been offered by someone in London. I would highly recommend speaking to Mark before you commit to selling anywhere else!
Vanessa Sweeney
Vanessa Sweeney
09:14 07 Sep 17
Mark is likeable, professional, reliable and his fee basis is 'transparent' and fair. He came up with a buyer for our art print without delay. He offers sound advice on various routes to market. Recommended!
G Green
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15:43 24 Sep 17
An exemplary service. Mark demonstrated he has superb knowledge combined with excellent industry contacts. First class communications, trustworthy and a thoroughly professional approach from start to finish. Mark obtained a fantastic result for a piece of rare silver for me and offered additional advice and guidance to help further my hobby. I will definitely be using his services again and recommend that you do the same.
Andrew Wilkin
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14:18 11 Oct 17
Mark was very helpful and knew just where to place our items for sale. Cutlery went very quickly, silver goblets went to auction and sold for more than we expected. We would certainly use Mark again and we would happily recommend him to others.
John Ayling
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12:47 25 Oct 17
Mark is most professional whilst being friendly and helpful - a rare combination. My experience involved a Lowry print which he advised on and helped me with in a way that put me totally at ease. He advises without any pressure and his charging system is totally clear and very fair. Go to Mark and you can be assured that he will help you by securing the best outcome for you. I have been more than impressed!
Chris Eyre
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09:23 17 Nov 17
For some time I have had a bottle of whisky which I thought might be valuable. I contacted Mark Littler and within a few days he had found a buyer and had arranged a very good price for me. Everything about the operation was professional and Mark himself was friendly and most knowledgeable. In a deal like this you have to have an honest and reliable agent and Mark most certainly is. I would recommend his services to anyone.
Peter Fergus
Peter Fergus
16:58 04 Dec 17
I have just sold a large cask of Arran whisky I purchased in 1996 after finding Mark's website and comparing his service to other brokers.I could not be happier with the sale price, it was substantial and approx two thousand more than the next best offer. Mark is very helpful and has excellent communication skills. The sale went very smoothly and promptly.I would not hesitate to use his services again and recommend him to any other sellers of high value casks.
Ivan Anton
Ivan Anton
11:01 11 Jan 18
Mark was very helpful and professional from initial valuation to finished sale. He sold an item on my behalf to a third party with the minimum of effort on my part. Good communication at all stages and has proven to be an easy and trustworthy person to deal with. I would very much recommend Mark to anyone else with valuable items to sell.
David Wilson
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19:41 14 Feb 18
Mark is extremely trustworthy, friendly, patient and honest and demonstrated a superb knowledge and enthusiasm for all the items he sold for us. He has great industry contacts and gave excellent advice and communication throughout the entire process. I would highly recommend Mark and would certainly use his services again!
Jennifer Angus
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13:35 01 Mar 18
Mark was highly knowledgeable, extremely pleasant and totally efficient. The service was professional and fast and Mark kept us informed as to exactly what would happen and when....great result for all concerned. Very pleased to have the opportunity to write this review and would have no hesitation recommending Mark to anyone.
Brian Booth
Brian Booth
07:37 13 Mar 18
Mark has been an enormous help to me in selling two bottles of whisky which I bought many years ago but are now too valuable just to drink! He obtained an offer for them which, at first, I could not believe. However, the money is now in my bank account waiting for me to decide what to spend it on. I would highly recommend Mark's professional and very friendly approach as well as his prompt attention to any email or text enquiries. I would not hesitate to use his services again.
Margaret Ross
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14:26 28 Mar 18
From my initial contact with Mark the whole experience of selling my cask of 1989 Macallan Whisky has been a breeze. Mark was very helpful, exceedingly dedicated and totally professional at all times.It was an excellent service provided at a very reasonable cost. Mark obtained a fantastic six-figure sum for my cask which I am completely over the moon with.I would not hesitate to recommend his services to others.
Tim Johnson
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10:42 24 Apr 18
A seamless experience from start to finish with Mark and an absolute pleasure to deal with. Nothing was too much trouble and a very fast response time. Incredibly professional, organised and customer service was outstanding - a rare find these days. Will continue to sell other items through Mark and wouldn't hesitate to recommend his services.
Jane Kenyon
Jane Kenyon
08:48 27 Apr 18
From the initial engagement through to sale and after service, Mark provided a reliable and professional service. He was very knowledgeable and kept us fully informed through every step of the sale. He has a good network of contacts and was able to arrange the sale of our Whiskey quickly and obtained a fantastic result. Would be happy to do business with him again and would recommend his services.
Neil George
Neil George
08:58 03 May 18