Dating sterling silver tea set
The mark is a Lion Passant-the image of a lion walking, facing left.
You may be sure that an object bearing this mark is English sterling silver made after 1719.
In Part I, I gave a brief history of the development of the British silverplating industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Now I would like to offer some tips on how to determine whether a given object is silver, Old Sheffield Plate or silverplate.
Antique silver hallmarks have been used to control the quality of goods made of silver since the 14th century and the organisation that regulates the craft, Goldsmiths Hall, gave the world the term hallmark.
This is to ensure it is of the required sterling silver standard and, provided it conforms to a standard, a series of symbols are stamped into each part of the item.
This mark became crowned in 1478 and remained crowned until 1821.
Since 1821, the uncrowned leopard’s head has remained as the distinguishing mark of London.
Between 17 the crown is often incorporated with the date letter struck on small objects.Each year is represented by a different letter of the alphabet.The shape of the shield changed over time; the facetype of the letter changed over time; whether the letter was capitalized or not changed over time.There was a simple reason for this seemingly Draconian behaviour in that the manufacture of silver and gold was allied to the minting of currency.
Sometimes called the Sterling Mark, the lion passant, the mark for Made in England, first appeared on English silver and gold in 1544.In 1719 Parliament established the standard for purity for sterling silver and instituted a mark indicating that an item is of sufficient purity to be deemed sterling.