English Silver Marks


The first thing I look for when anyone brings a piece of silver to me is the marks.

The ones here  are on the bottom of a tea pot . These marks tell me a lot about the tea pot . It is sterling silver, made in London by an English silversmith , Paul Storr  in 1828. How do I know?

First the letters “PS” These give the name of the silversmith . The silversmiths registered their marks with the assay office and can be traced. In this case, Paul Storr.

Next the lion passant  set in the shaped rectangle.  This tells me that the spoon has made the grade for sterling silver – 92.5% silver, the balance copper.   Other countries use other symbols and more popularly the numbers 925 but English silver has been marked in this way – with the lion- since the Middle Ages

Next the leopard’s head . This shows that the spoon was assayed or checked for content in the London assay office which uses the head of the leopard . There are other assay offices in the UK but they use their own symbols- an anchor for Birmingham , a crown for Sheffield and so on.

Next the letter “n” . This tells me that the spoon was assayed in 1828. 1827 would have been a letter “m . The letter changes each year and the style of the script every 25 years .Each assay uses it’s own date letter system so hallmarks becomes a unique combination of symbols.

The final mark is the monarch’s head in profile. Here we have George IV . This last mark – known as the duty mark indicates that the tax due on the item has been paid – only rich people could afford silver! The duty mark finished in 1890. Items assayed after that date don’t have a duty mark but will have the other symbols.

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