ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel


Updated on May 6, 2010
Photo by Chatsam
Photo by Chatsam

A hallmark is a symbol stamped on silver, gold, or pewterware to indicate their quality or purity or show conformity to the legal standard. Hallmarks are also used for bullion control and the collection of revenue. The standards for silver in England are sterling (92.5% fine) and Britannia (95.84% fine).

It is also called a plate mark. The term "hallmark" originally referred to a mark from the goldsmiths' hall. Its use dates from the 14th century in England, when all gold and silver objects were subject by law to an appraisal by the guild of goldsmiths. The objects were inspected and then stamped to indicate their value. Other symbols were later devised to show the name of the maker, the place and date of manufacture, and other details. Such hallmarks are now in general use in many European countries.

Early Byzantine silver was stamped for bullion control, but hallmarking really started in France with townmarks (Montpellier, 1220); London followed in 1300. Maker's marks were made compulsory in the 14th century, and date letters in the 15th (Paris, 1461; London 1478). By 1500 most European countries practiced hallmarking, but they used simpler systems than England or France. Since 1696 all English gold and silver must be marked unless exempted, as is, for instance, jewelry.

A hallmark for British sterling, such as that illustrated, consists of a maker's mark (today his initials), a standard mark denoting sterling (a lion passant in England, a thistle in Scotland), a town mark indicating the assay office, and a date letter. The order may vary. British assay offices in the early 1970's were in London (a leopard's head), Sheffield (a crown), Birmingham (an anchor), and Edinburgh (a castle). The Britannia standard, compulsory in England from 1697 to 1720 and still occasionally used, has a figure of Britannia for the sterling lion and a lion's head erased for the leopard's head of London. Special marks for gold appeared in 1798 and show a crown followed by the number of carats, or on small pieces, the carats alone, plus the date letter and the maker's mark.

Hallmarking is used in most European countries, though in some it is not compulsory. From Europe it spread to Latin America, but its only evidence in North America comes from Baltimore in 1814. American and Canadian silversmiths used maker's marks and indicated the metal's purity with the words coin or sterling. Hallmarks were also used on pewter to indicate the quality of the metal.

Although hallmarks are not required in the United States, most manufacturers of gold or silver objects indicate the purity of the metal by their own marks. Since 1906 the standards have been established by federal regulation. Many manufacturers of other products also stamp their products with their initials and similar marks of identification. The word "hallmark" has, therefore, come to designate any mark used to vouch for the quality or purity of a product.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Weldon Jewellers profile image

      Weldon Jewellers 

      7 years ago from Ireland

      good article, thanks!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)