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Britannia marks may still be found on special pieces made to the higher standard.
Many items of Georgian and Victorian silver will carry a sovereign’s head – a ‘duty’ mark reflecting a tax on precious metals collected between 17.
Rarity dictates that Scottish/Irish provincial silver is highly collectable, most obviously in the flatware and hollow wares produced in provincial Ireland and Scotland.
In Ireland, silversmiths in Cork, Limerick and beyond simply marked their silver with the word ‘Sterling’ and a maker’s initials.
However, in 1696, rising concerns over the amount of coinage being melted down and used to make silver items meant that the required fineness was raised to the higher Britannia standard (.958 purity).
Instead, they stamped the silver themselves with a maker's mark, a town mark or combinations of these and other marks.The company or person responsible for sending a silver article for hallmarking has their own unique mark that must be registered with the assay office – a process that has been compulsory since the 14th century.Specialist publications help explain different makers’ or sponsors’ marks, with Sir Charles Jackson’s , first published in 1905 and revised in 1989, still the most authoritative work on the subject.In 18th and 19th century Scotland more than 30 different silversmithing centres were active from Aberdeen to Wick with each ‘hammerman’ using their own mark.Specialist publications are essential for locating and unstanding the meaning of a huge proliferation of different marks and symbols used on Scottish provincial silver.