Dating english silver date letters dating jewish manchester
Although no longer compulsory, British hallmarks typically include a letter to indicate the year when a piece of silver was assayed.Generally the letter was changed annually until a complete alphabet had been used and then the cycle would begin again with an alteration to the style of letter or its surrounding shield.The first silver hallmarking was confined to Goldsmiths’ Hall in London but in time other assay offices were opened.Today there are still offices in Edinburgh, where hallmarking has been regulated since the 15th century, and in Birmingham and Sheffield, where assay offices were established by an Act of Parliament in 1773.Rarity dictates that Scottish/Irish provincial silver is highly collectable, most obviously in the flatware and hollow wares produced in provincial Ireland and Scotland.In Ireland, silversmiths in Cork, Limerick and beyond simply marked their silver with the word ‘Sterling’ and a maker’s initials.
Specialist publications are essential for locating and unstanding the meaning of a huge proliferation of different marks and symbols used on Scottish provincial silver.
For a variety of reasons this practice was not always adhered to and the resulting anomalies can be seen in the tables of marks.
However, the date letter system allows antique plate to be dated more accurately than almost all other antiques.
It should be noted that while the date letter has routinely been taken to represent a single year, it was not until 1975 that all date letters were changed on January 1.
Until then, assay offices changed punches at different times of the year, so most letters were in fact used across two years.