In addition to the crown and fineness marks, assay marks and date letters are used that provide a great deal of information about a piece.
British silver pieces will normally have the lion passant hallmark (indicating sterling silver) along with an assay mark, a date mark, and sometimes a maker’s mark.
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You can used theses to determine the date of silver items by determining the similarity of the letters in the chart below and reading of the date of the hallmark.
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A silver object that is to be sold commercially is, in most countries, stamped with one or more silver hallmarks indicating the purity of the silver, the mark of the manufacturer or silversmith, and other (optional) markings to indicate date of manufacture and additional information about the piece.
In some countries, the testing of silver objects and marking of purity is controlled by a national assayer's office.
The use of hallmarks on jewelry and objects made from precious metal began in the 1400’s, however many unmarked pieces exist.
The passage of time and repair work has marred or eliminated marks from many pieces making them harder to identify the precious metal content, the country of manufacturer or the maker.
Since 1998 the date letter has become optional but the other three symbols ...