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Dating english silver date letters

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Rather, they were an early type of consumer protection.

In the first century BC, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio described Archimedes' discovery of hydrostatic weighing.

King Hiero II of Syracuse gave Archimedes the assignment to investigate the purity of a newly commissioned golden wreath, believing silver was added to the gold content.

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.

In Europe the hallmarking of precious metal objects was, and still is, a legally required process.

It involves testing and the fineness of the metal and then stamping it with control marks that show the results.

Originally this was a tax “for the encouragement of tillage”, but after 1806 when Irish silver was struck with the king’s head duty mark it became the mark signifying the Dublin Assay Office. The Hibernia mark was only introduced in 1730, and the monarch’s head mark came in in 1806, so we do not expect to see either.

dating english silver date letters-1

The most encountered hallmark on jewelry is undoubtedly the "purity" mark which indicates the total amount of gold or silver used to manufacture a coveted jewel.It was Edward I who first passed a statute requiring all silver to be of sterling standard – a purity of 925 parts per thousand – ushering in a testing or assay system that has survived for over 700 years.The statute made it the responsibility of the Wardens of the Goldsmiths' Guild to mark all items of sterling standard with a leopard's head stamp.This project is ongoing and it is acknowledged that there may be errors / omissions.Please contact us if you have any suggestions on its improvement.Although the technicalities in this legendary story are most likely based on myth, it does give an early account of fraud with precious metals.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.There is a lot of information on this page and I know it can be difficult to take it all in, so if you are struggling to understand the marks in your watch case please ask me for help via my contact me page.I don't make any attempt here to cover manufacturer's trade marks, of which there are thousands.The marks serve several functions: * they verify that the item is of the correct quality. * where appropriate, they record that duty has been paid on the item. The year in which a piece of Irish silver was made can be determined by the date letter – this is one of the marks described above, applied by the assay office when it is hallmarked.In Ireland, sterling silver is not less than 92.5% pure silver, the rest is alloy. Below are a few examples and a guide to reading antique Irish silver hallmarks, followed by photos of as many date letters as I could manage. As there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, they are reused, which each cycle slightly different to the preceding one.