Trace a Hallmark


The Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office is where hallmarking began, and we have been testing and hallmarking precious metals for over 700 years.


Hallmarks should answer three important questions: where, what and who. They can also tell you when a piece was made.

Where

The most important point in identifying UK hallmarks is to find the assay town mark. This tells you where the object was hallmarked. There are four assay offices still in operation in the UK: London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Sheffield. The Goldsmiths' Company Assay Office is the London hallmark.

What

Once this has been done the standard mark should be used to determine the type of metal using the standard or fineness marks. Be careful, as silver plated objects often have stamps resembling hallmarks. Make sure your marks match the official UK hallmarks.

When

The date letter, if present, should be compared to published tables of that assay office. Prior to 1975 the date letter varied for each assay office. Since 1999 the date letter has been a voluntary mark and therefore will not always be present. However, at London assay office, the mark is still applied as standard unless otherwise requested.

Who

Finally the sponsors' mark, which should be unique, indicates the manufacturer.

Most sponsors' marks take the form of initials surrounded by a shield design – this is important, as many different sponsors may have the same initials. Other hallmarks, like commemorative or duty marks, can also provide clues to help you date your object.

How we can Help

The Goldsmiths’ Company can help you identify a wide range of hallmarks. Please email a clear image of the marks and a description of the object to library@thegoldsmiths.co.uk.

For all other enquiries, please contact the Library. The Library can also help with hallmarks from provincial assay offices now closed, and overseas hallmarks.

For a list of standard works on hallmarking, please see our reading guide.

 

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History of the Company

The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, more commonly known as the Goldsmiths' Company, is one of the Twelve Great Livery Companies of the City of London and received its first royal charter in 1327.

The Assay Office

The Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office is where hallmarking began, and we have been testing and hallmarking precious metals for over 700 years.

About the Library

Housed on the first floor of Goldsmiths’ Hall, the Library was established in the 1950s as part of the Company’s mission to promote jewellery and silversmithing. Contact us or arrange a visit.