Silver Hallmarks

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Silver Hallmarks - Chinese
Silver Hallmarks - United Kingdom and Ireland
Silver Hallmarks - United States

Silver Hallmarks - Consumer Protection

Hallmarking is Europe's earliest form of consumer protection. Hallmarking in Europe appears first in France, with the Goldsmiths Statute of 1260 promulgated under Etienne Boileau, Provost of Paris, for King Louis IX. A standard for silver was thus, established.

In 1275, King Philip III prescribed by royal decree, the mark for use on silver works, along with specific punches for each community's smiths. In 1313, his successor, Philippe IV "the Fair" expanded the use of hallmarks to gold works.

In 1300 King Edward I of England enacted a statute requiring that all silver articles must meet the sterling silver standard (92.5% pure silver) and must be assayed in this regard by 'guardians of the craft' who would then mark the item with a leopard's head.

In 1327 King Edward III of England granted a charter to the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths (more commonly known as the Goldsmiths' Company), marking the beginning of the Company's formal existence. This entity was headquartered in London at Goldsmiths' Hall from whence the English term "hallmark" is derived. (In the UK the use of the term "hallmark" was first recorded in this sense in 1721 and in the more general sense as a "mark of quality" in 1864.

In 1424, the French Archbishop Jean de Brogny, after having consulted with a council of eight Masters Goldsmiths from Geneva, enacted a regulation on the purity and hallmarking of silver objects following the French standards for application in Geneva.

Silver Hallmarks - Augmentations in France and England

* In 1355, individual maker marks were introduced in France, which concept was later mirrored in England in 1363, adding accountability to the two systems.
* In 1427, the date letter system was established in France, allowing the accurate dating of any hallmarked piece. .
* In 1478, the Assay Office was established in Goldsmiths' Hall. At this time, the date letter system was introduced in England. .
* In 1697, a higher standard of silver, known as the Britannia standard (95.8% silver) was made compulsory in Great Britain to protect the new coinage which was being melted down by silversmiths for the silver. The Sterling standard was restored in 1720.
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