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When Victoria came to the throne in 1837, the mark was replaced with the Queen's head duty mark which always faces left. Go to the appropriate section in Bradburys for the given town.Look for a matching date letter with or without the duty mark as needed.The vast majority of English, Scottish and Irish silver produced in the last 500 years is stamped with either 4 or 5 symbols, known as hallmarks.The prime purpose of these marks is to show that the metal of the item upon which they are stamped is of a certain level of purity.It is also important to note that each town has a different series of letters, starting on a different year.
Most people would need to rely on the dealer or auction room from which the item was bought to identify the maker. with those simple steps, you can quite easily decipher the hallmarks on any piece of British silver made in the last 500 years.Whilst looking for the date letter, you need to bear in mind that the font, it’s capitalisation and the shape of the background, known as the shield, are varied in each cycle of letters.So, although, only 20 letters are used, it is possible to know exactly which year that particular combination of font, and shield is referring to.As an example, the date letter for 1898 in London is a lowercase ‘c’, in Sheffield it is a lowercase 'f' and in Birmingham it is a lowercase ‘y’. This is why it is important to find the town mark before you try to find the date letter.The Maker’s mark was initially a picture, but this practice was superseded by using the first two letters of the maker’s surname and later the initials.
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Depending upon the font used for the series of date letters, the letter i, j or l is usually omitted to avoid any possible confusion between them.