According to Silver Collection, the English silversmith Sheffield uses several special markings on each piece of silver it produces to identify the age and origin of the piece. These special marking on silver are called hallmarks. Since there are thousands of hallmarks used to identify silver pieces worldwide, it is impossible to describe each mark without causing confusion. Interested parties should check a reputable silver hallmarks directory for specific markings.
The town mark indicates which British assay office officially verified the piece. The hallmark used to certify the quality of the silver is known as a lion "passant guardant," Britannia, or lion's head erased. The date hallmark is indicated by a letter that signifies the year that the piece was verified by the assay office, according to Silver Collection.
The letters on the date hallmark run in cycles of 20 letters of the alphabet, issued in different shapes. The name of the silversmith who presented the piece to the assay office is indicated by the maker's mark.Silver Collection states that an additional hallmark was used during the period of 1784 to 1890. A sovereign head was added as a duty mark, which certified that the duty, or tax, had been paid on the silver piece.