English silver maker marks are stamp marks placed on silver objects to indicate the purity, manufacturer, date and any other information deemed prudent for the identification of the finished piece. The appropriate term for an English silver maker mark is "silver hallmark".
In order to place a hallmark on a silver object, a hammer and punch is used. This is usually done prior to the final polishing of the object. English, Scottish and Irish silver is stamped with four to five symbols. The mark pertaining to the purity of the silver is called the standard mark and requires authentication by an assay office. Since assay offices are regulated by the government, it is a method of offering a degree of consumer protection with regards to the purity of the silver. Silver purity in the United Kingdom is classified in two ways. Sterling standard silver is 92.5 percent pure, while Britannia standard silver has 95.8 percent purity.
The second mark on English silver is the town mark, identifying the city or region where the silver object was created. The third mark is the duty mark. This mark is not present on all pieces as it was only used from 1784 to 1890. The fourth mark is the date letter that identifies the year the object was made. The final mark is the maker's stamp that identifies who manufactured the piece.