Friday, November 30, 2012

How to find Valuable Hallmarked Silver

If you are interested in gold and silver, the hallmark can be as interesting as the object itself. 

It can tell you a lot about the history of your item and the fact that some hall marks are rare, will add value beyond the base value of the metal and the beauty of the craftsmanship.

Some collectors form whole collections around certain assay offices or hallmarks and look out for certain hall marks because of their rarity value.

There are four assay offices in Great Britain operating today. These are Birmingham - the largest assay office in the world, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield.

There is also an assay office in Dublin, which continues to hallmark in the approved British way despite Irish independence in 1923.

However, there are many other assay offices, which are no longer in operation and these hallmarks can be rare.

Assay offices no longer in operation are Chester, Exeter Newcastle, York, Glasgow and Cork in Ireland.

In addition, some hallmarks refer to special events or years and these also have a rarity value which is reflected by the price.

So which are the hall marks to look out for?

Anything bearing the city arms mark of Chester especially if it is early.

Although Chester silver had been made and marked as such for centuries, Chester was granted with its own assay office in 1700.

Silver hallmarked in Chester is rare because no silversmiths were operating in the town after 1820.

The abundance of Chester hallmarks on silverware dating from 1880 to 1930 is because silversmiths working in Manchester and Liverpool sent it to the Chester Assay Office for hallmarking

Duty marks can also be rare. In 1784, legislation was bought in to record that duty of 6d an ounce had to be paid on valuable metals.

A mark depicting the sovereign’s head was an extra mark added to the hallmarks between 1784 and 1890, an excise on gold and silver articles was collected by the Assay Offices and a mark depicting the Sovereign’s head was struck to show that it had been paid.

In 1890, the tax was removed but the sovereign’s head has continued to be added to hallmarks on a voluntary basis.

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The Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 was marked with a special hallmark, the Millennium followed in 2000 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee will be marked with a commemorative hallmark.

All these commemorative hall marks are collectable and seem likely to increase in value in the future.
The rarest duty mark is a figure of Britannia, which was used on export gold and silver.

This was struck for only 9 months between Dec 1st 1784 and July 1785 and because it was struck on finished wares, risked damage to the object so was soon discontinued.

This is the rarest of gold and silver hallmarks and will increase the value of the object considerably.

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How to find Valuable Hallmarked Silver?