What Are Some Common Silver Hallmarks and Maker Marks?

Some hallmarks of American silversmiths include Alvin Manufacturing Company's rampant dragon, William B. Meyers Company's lion emblem and Mauser Manufacturing Company's unicorn head. William K. Vanderslice & Company's emblem features a walking bear, and Towle Silversmiths hallmark is a rampant lion. The lion symbol originated in Great Britain and was used to indicate the quality of sterling silver. Makers marks may also be the maker's initials; for example, Ahrendt & Kautzen marked their silver "AK."

British silver bore marks that indicated the place of assay, duty, date and import status of each piece. The major British manufacturing towns used unique identification symbols. A leopard head, for example, indicated that a piece was manufactured in London. Birmingham used an anchor and a lion, while a castle signified Exeter. In some cases, these marks changed over the years, and can be used to date a piece of silver. For example, before 1822, the London leopard's head wore a crown. Silver manufactured in London after 1822 bears an uncrowned leopard.

British and American maker's mark initials were sometimes artistically fashioned within a design, such as a shield, arrowhead or interlocking circles. Manufacturers sometimes stamped their entire name or the name of a company onto a piece. Some examples of this style include maker's marks by the American silversmiths Allan Adler, Valerio Albarello and the Amston Silver Company.

French silver hallmarks are pictographs that indicate where and when a piece was manufactured. They also designated whether a piece was made for export, and indicated the quality of the metal. Silver made in Paris was originally stamped with a boar's head. By the 20th century, the official French export hallmark was the head of the Greek god Mercury.