Monday, March 21, 2011

How to date silver from fineness and assay marks

Silver, gold, and platinum have assay and fineness marks stamped on each article. The Fineness mark is a representation of the assayed purity of the metal. The Assay mark defines at which office the metal was checked for its purity.

The Hallmarking Act 1973 changed on 1 January 1999 and allows articles of higher and lower standards of fineness to be sold. This brings UK law into line with European law. Consumers may now choose from a much wider range of goods but to continue to benefit from the same level of protection.

These marks are the Assay Office Marks and the fineness marks. They are stamped on Gold, Silver and Platinum products and represent the UK office where the article was assayed.

assay and finess marks for silver gold and platinum before 1975

Prior to 1975 no mark was given for platinum by the Assay Offices. The fineness marks were stamped in two blocks except for Britannia Silver which had a single stamp. On Gold the carat mark is always stamped.

assay and fineness marks on silver, platinum and gold after 1975

After 1975 the London Assay Office no longer used the Britannia Silver mark. After 1975 all the four UK Assay Offices included Gold, Silver and Platinum in their hallmark.

After 1975 the Fineness marks were simplified to include a new mark for Platinum. Gold always carries a number preceded by a crown. Silver is marked with a single symbol which is either a lion or Britannia.

The imported fineness marks have also changed to reflect the purity of the metal with the mark for carat removed. A new purity mark for Platinum is also stamped on objects after 1975.

gold and silver hallmarks