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What are silver identification marks?

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Quick Answer

Silver identifications marks are marks on the bottom of a piece of sliver that indicate its age, maker and origin. The marks help to categorize silver by feel, shape and construction.

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Most pieces of silver made in America have one mark, although some Scottish and Irish pieces also contain a single mark. Four or five tiny pictorial marks normally show England is the country of origin, while the English queen or king’s head mark indicates the age of the piece of silver. A lion indicates London, a harp Dublin, a thistle Edinburgh, while a fish or a tree indicates Glasgow. German and Russian silversmiths used a spread eagle. The word "STERLING" indicates America and Ireland, while "COIN," "DOLLAR" and "STANDARD" are American terms.

The pioneer silversmiths used their initials only, but their successors began using the last name, or the first initial and the last name. About 1,800 pseudo-hallmarks were used with the aim of misleading the public to believe the silver was from England.

The words "COIN," "PURE COIN," "PREMIUM," "STANDARD" and "DOLLAR," or the letters “C” or “D” on silver indicate that the silver is 900/1000 parts silver. By 1860, the word STERLING was used to indicate 925/1000 parts silver. The words double, triple, quadruple, EPWM and EPNS indicate that a ware is silver plated.

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