Dating english gold hallmarks
Since pre-Roman times gold and silver have been used as currency or as the counter deposit for money and one can imagine that a not so scrupulous person, with little fear of severe punishments, would find a means to tamper with the precious metal.
Contents British hallmarks on native items • Ehrhardt, Birmingham 1909/10 • Read, Chester 1888/89 • English Watch Co., Birmingham 1878/79 • Fridlander, London 1883/84 18 ct.
For a General Guide to British Hallmarks please see Hallmarking in Great Britain Here.
For estate jewelers and jewelry historians, hallmarks provide for an extra source of information to accurately date a jewelry object and determine by whom it was made.
In bygone days fraudulent activities in hallmarking silver and gold were punished with death, but the penalty it is still significant today (till ten years of prison).
The first guarantee marks used in England was the leopard head, that was impressed on silverware made of alloy containing at least 925 ppt of silver (sterling standard).
When researching British Hallmarks, if you are unable to find a complete set of hallmarks including Standard Mark, City Mark, Date Letter and Maker's Mark plus a Duty Mark (if made between 1785 - 1890) chances are the "vessel" is not from England's green and pleasant Land, but a mariner from another country.
The famous story ends with Archimedes running through the streets shouting "eureka, eureka" after he found a means to expose the deceit while he sat in a bath tub.
Although the technicalities in this legendary story are most likely based on myth, it does give an early account of fraud with precious metals.
gold • Rotherham & Sons, London 1881/82 • Newsome and Co., Chester 1888/89 • Bedford, Waltham, Birmingham 1899/00 British hallmarks on imported items • IWC "Seeland" Chester 1877/78 • Baume, Longines, London 1877/78 • Nicolet, Stauffer & Co.
London 1886/87 This page includes a number of examples of British hallmarks that should show you want to look out for when your are trying to read British hallmarks.