Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Identifying French Silver

French Silver ware is still hugely collectable. Examples for sale can be found almost anywhere in the world. This is a testament to the huge popularity of French Silver.

What is French Silver worth? Well, anywhere between a few pounds sterling to the thousands paid for a beautiful or rare piece of fine French Silver.

Hallmarks the markings in assayed silver were first used in France in the mid-13th century. There are hundreds of different French hallmarks, some of them obscure and rare. However, you can identify many French hallmarks by looking for a few distinguishing features.
To begin you will need a Jeweller’s loupe or a strong magnifying glass and a guide to French hallmarks.

1. Turn the silver item round with your hands until you can find a hallmark.

2. Look for a diamond-shaped lozenge with letters inside. This is a French maker's mark, designating the original item manufacturer.

3. Search for what looks like a woman's head facing right, wearing a helmet. This is the Roman goddess Minerva. Minerva is the mark for French silver.

4. Check for a boar's head looking left or a crab mark. These are found on smaller items such as snuff boxes, vinaigrettes and card cases.

5. Search for other hallmarks that have a bearded man, duck, cockerel, wolf or a man with a winged helmet. These were all used as hallmarks during various eras in France, according to the website 925-1000. A decorative letter "A" with a crown on top means that an item was made in Paris.

6. View the list of hallmarks on the 925-1000 website or in a reputable French hallmark guide, such as "Tardy's International Hallmarks on Silver."

More: Identify Silver Index 

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