Dating sterling silver

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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.Pins/brooches, earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and pendants are individually handcrafted from base Pure Silver metal and its alloy.This silver content tarnishes more slowly than sterling.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. It is very ductile and malleable below gold and palladium (one of the platinum metals).There was a simple reason for this seemingly Draconian behaviour in that the manufacture of silver and gold was allied to the minting of currency.

When the Birmingham Assay Office was established in 1773, largely due to the representations of the great Midlands industrialist, Matthew Boulton, the mark of an anchor was adopted as the town mark.Because of possible confusion with the Crown mark used after 1798, (as the hallmark for 18ct gold), the Sheffield assay mark was changed on January 1st 1975 for a rose.Which had incidentally, been used as the gold assay mark for Sheffield when the Assay Office was first entitled to test gold, after March 1st 1904.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.

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