There are plenty of pages on How to Read English Hallmarks on the net, in this article I've tried to take the subject back to basics and start from scratch. Hopefully you might find it useful.
Many items also include a Makers Mark. There are literaly thousands of these marks that would fill many pages on the site, and many are available on other web sites, so only a few of the more common ones will be shown here for reference. The series of marks you will find on an item can be broken down to simplify identification as in the following table. They work in a progressive sequence to establish the correct date for an item.
|How to Read English Hallmarks|
|Established Stirling Silver Symbol|
|Established the Town or City Mark|
|Establish the Date Letter|
|Is thee a Duty Mark?|
These are all the marks you need to effectively date an item of Sterling Silver. You may see other marks that may confuse you, but remember that makers often put their own mark on twice, for instance, or you may see different monarchs heads, lions heads and the same letter mark but on a different background (see below).
|Note the similarity in date marks, but note the different stamp backgrounds, this is how you distinguish between the two dates even though the letter is the same font style.|
It is easy to see then that identifying silver items and dating them isn't quite as difficult as it would first seem. When you first start out you will need a good reference pocket book, but you can start by learning all the Town or City marks first, then as you become more confident, move on to the other marks.
The table below gives you a good idea of what the most commonly seen City marks are. Use this as a quick reference guide, but be aware that over the years these marks did change a bit - they won't always look exactly like these but should be a very similar design.
|These are the most common City marks you are likely to come across when looking at Silver Hallmarks. The design should stay basically the same with a couple of exceptions that you're not likely to come across that often.|