Dating english silver hallmarks
The Assay Office marks for gold would be in a Square shield with chamfered corners and in a blunt oval for silver.
Following a ruling of the European Court of Justice the UK is required to accept national hallmarks of member states who provide an equivalent guarantee.
From the end of the 12th century the craft of silversmith has been regulated in conformity with Royal Ordinances and Acts of the Parliament.
In England the craft was regulated by the Guild of Goldsmiths at London and in Ireland by the Guild of Dublin.
It was not until 1856 that the leopard's head mark could have been used for any purpose other than a fineness mark.
Some of The Assay Office marks of member countries of the Convention are illustrated below.
In Ireland, Dublin origin is deduced by the presence of the figure of the crowned harp and Hibernia. XX which introduced this standard reads as follows: "It is ordained, that no Goldsmith of England, nor none otherwhere within the King's Dominions, shall from henceforth....... The 925/1000 (sterling) silver fineness is certified in London and other British Assay Offices by the use of the "lion passant" mark.
Since the 14th century the standard for silver in England was set at 11 ounces and two pennyweights in the Troy pound (925 parts in 1000), it was related to money and as far as wrought plate was concerned it had to be as good as money. For a short period (1696-1720) the standard was elevated to 958.4/1000 and the "Britannia" mark replaced the "lion passant".
These are traditional standard marks that can still be used today. Since 1972 the UK has been a signatory to the international convention on hallmarks.
This means that UK Assay Offices can apply the common control mark which will then be recognised by all member countries in the convention.