Peru figure silver spoon 925 dating
English gold and silver articles have been marked by some form of hallmark since the 13th Century.This duty was originally carried out at Goldsmiths hall in London.
Please click here for more information on Assay Offices.The duty mark was originally struck incuse as opposed to the other marks which are struck intaglio (in cameo form).The incuse mark is quite a rarity as it was only used between 1st December 1784 and 29th May, 1786 and good examples of this mark are sought after - see far left mark in the illustration below from a table spoon of 1785.From 1975 the four assay offices used the same date letter system.The date letter, up until 1975, changed in May (on St.Dunstan's Day - the patron saint of silversmiths) of each year.
Hence, an item described as "made in 1750", theoretically could have been made the following year and should really be described as being 1750/51.
In the case of silver there are two standards, Sterling (92.5%) and Britannia (95.8%).
Sterling silver in England is represented within a hallmark by a lion passant and Britannia standard by a seated figure of Britannia holding a spear and shield.
Examples of the more common (intaglio) duty mark are shown above.
An ultra rare mark is the duty drawback mark which is symbolised by a standing figure of Britannia holding a spear and shield (the uppermost mark in the image below on the marks for a Hester Bateman cream ladle).
Each assay office had its own cycle of letters, with each cycle using a different style of lettering.