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To obtain a sponsor’s mark you must register with an assay office.This shows the fineness of the metal – ie purity of the precious metal content in parts per 1000 in relation to the standard recognised in the UK.
There may be some variations in backgrounds during the late 19th century, especially on watch cases.It should be noted that the head did not always change with the Monarch! The figure of Britannia was used from December 1784 to July 1785 to indicate repayment.From 1842 it was illegal to sell imported gold or silver in the UK unless it was assayed (tested) at a British office. From 1904 the carat value of gold was also shown and for silver the decimal value of the standard was used.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".