If you're thinking of selling gold, you'll find our rates are significantly higher than any high street retailer and we don't charge testing or refining fees. Have a look the symbols below, these identify where the piece of jewellery was assayed. Select the symbol that appears on your piece of jewellery. How old is your gold? Gold Hallmark Identification Wizard. Identify the Assay Office.
Pre-decimal Calculator Calculate the value of your pre-decimal coins. How Rare is Your Sovereign? Use our Gold Sovereign Identification Wizard. What is Your Gold Worth? Swiss watch cases were required to be assayed and hallmarked from but the identities of Swiss watch case makers are poorly documented before , after that date all Swiss gold watch cases had to be stamped with a mark that identifies the maker.
There has never been a system of legally required independent hallmarking in America. Watch cases made in America carry marks stamped by their makers that were not legally mandated or controlled. These are not hallmarks; the customer relied on the manufacturer's honesty rather than legal protection. American watch cases usually carry the maker's name and trade mark whereas British and Swiss made gold and silver cases are often anonymous apart from the hallmarks. Many American watches were imported into Britain as bare movements and cased with British made watch cases which, if they are gold or silver, carry British hallmarks.
In Britain gold or silver watch cases, wherever they were made, should always have been assayed and hallmarked in a British assay office before sale. British laws on hallmarking were enacted long before watches were even invented!
- Case Marks: Marks in Watch Cases.
- Poinçons de Maître: Case Maker's Marks;
- A Guide to Hallmarks - Gold Bullion.
- Compulsory Marks.
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Foreign made watch cases were no more exempt from the law than British made cases, but hallmarking of imported watch cases was not enforced before There was a from a short period between and when a small proportion of foreign watch cases were hallmarked in the same way as British made watch cases, but apart from this most watches were imported into Britain either without hallmarks at all, or with hallmarks from their country of origin. Swiss made gold and silver watch cases were not hallmarked in Switzerland until hallmarks for watch cases were introduced by Swiss law in Before that date gold cases were usually stamped with their carat fineness by the case maker, and silver was marked with its millesimal fineness, usually , or sometimes just "fine silver".
British practice changed in when it was ordered that all imported gold and silver watch cases be assayed and hallmarked in a British assay office. From 1 June the assay offices were ordered to strike hallmarks on imported watch cases that were different from those struck on watch cases made in the UK. For instance the London Assay Office town mark for watch cases manufactured in Britain was a leopard's head, but the town mark used on imported watches became the zodiac symbol Leo on a crossed back ground in an oval shield.
The new town marks shown below were used from 1 June on imported watch cases to distinguish them from watch cases made in Britain. If it is a silver watch case another clear indication is that the silver standard is given as. However, after a request from the the archivist of the Incorporation of Goldsmiths, who looks after the historical records of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Assay Offices, the editor of the NAWCC Bulletin has allowed the article to be made publicly available and it can now be downloaded by clicking on this this link: My research has also been incorporated in the latest version of Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks, you can read about this at Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks.
I will be publishing some corrections and additions to my NAWCC article that I will make available as a download here. The following sections illustrate some characteristic marks to help you identify the type of marks you might find in a watch case and then link to a page that goes into more details about those marks. After 1 June all gold and silver watches imported into Britain were required to be assayed and hallmarked in a British assay office. They were stamped with new hallmarks that were intended to show that the item was imported and not of British manufacture.
The picture here shows a set of London import hallmarks for silver.
Gold Hallmark Identification Wizard
For clarity this picture shows only the three assay office marks, the town mark, standard mark and date letter. It does not include the sponsor's mark, but a British hallmark must have all four marks, it is not complete and legal without a sponsor's mark. The fineness of the legal standards of gold were shown in carats and decimals, as illustrated the picture of the import mark for nine carat gold. The first figure is a nine on its side, not a six. The other legal standards for gold were represented similarly: In the same way that the sign of Leo was introduced as a new town mark for the London Assay Office to use on imported items, other British assay offices used different town marks for imported items.
Decimal fineness marks were used on imported gold as well as silver in place of the traditional British symbols.
The date letters used on imported items were the same as those used on native items, and each assay office continued with its own unique sequence of date letters. To go to my page about British import hallmarks click on this link: These marks, the walking lion passant of sterling silver, the leopard's head, and a date letter, are traditional British hallmarks on silver with origins that go back to the year in the reign of King Edward I.
The lion passant, the walking lion with raised right forepaw, was introduced in the reign of King Henry VIII, the king who had six wives. Gold items were marked with similar hallmarks, with a crown or numbers identifying the gold standard. A valid and legal British hallmark in a nineteenth or twentieth century watch case must have four marks; sponsor's mark, town mark, standard mark and date letter. For clarity this picture does not include the sponsor's mark, but a set of British hallmarks is not valid without a sponsor's mark.
British hallmarks like this were applied to all gold and silver items made in Britain, and they were also applied to some foreign watches between about and until the English watchmakers got this stopped. If you have such a foreign watch with native British hallmarks, you can read about this on Foreign watches with British hallmarks. After 1 June all imported gold and silver watches were assayed and hallmarked in British assay offices but they were not marked with the traditional British hallmarks, instead new British import hallmarks were stamped on imported watches.
The leopard's head shown here, when used on its own, is the mark of the London Assay Office at Goldsmith's Hall. Other assay offices have their own "town marks"; symbols that show where the item was assayed and hallmarked. The town marks most often seen on English watches are the leopard's head of London, an anchor for the Birmingham assay office, and a sword between three wheatsheaves for the Chester assay office, most used by Liverpool watchmakers. To go to my page about British hallmarks click on this link: In order to send any item to a British assay office to be tested and hallmarked, a person had first to enter their details and a unique punch mark at the assay office they wanted to use.
The punch mark is usually the registered person's initials within a shaped shield. This is called the "sponsor's mark" and is one of the four parts of a legal British hallmark. The sponsor's mark was applied to each item before it was submitted for hallmarking, and can tell us interesting information about where a watch case was made, or imported a watch. This mark is sometimes erroneously called the "maker's mark" due to misunderstanding its exact purpose and use. This can be very misleading at the best of times, and in the case of an imported watch it is just simply totally wrong.
The term "sponsor's mark" should always be used, irrespective of whether the item is British or imported. The sponsor was the person who took responsibility for an item when it was submitted for hallmarking, making a legal declaration of where it was made and bearing the penalty if an item was found to be substandard. The mark was never intended to show who made an item; there was no requirement for a sponsor to be involved in any way in the manufacture of an item submitted for hallmarking and there has never been a requirement for the assay offices to know who actually made an item.
To go to my page about British sponsor's marks click on this link: Swiss hallmarks for watch cases were introduced in The marks were the ones shown here; for 18 carat gold the head of Helvetia, the female national personification of Switzerland which is also called the Confederation Helvetica, for 14 carat gold a squirrel, and for silver either a rampant bear, a bear standing with forepaws raised, for the higher standard of 0.
In , in response to the British Merchandise Marks Act, the Swiss authorities introduced a higher standard of silver of 0. In the fineness of the Swiss higher silver standard was raised to. The punch mark of a standing bear for the higher silver standard was replaced by a duck. Marks such as "Fine silver", , or could also indicate a Swiss origin, and French names of parts such "cuivre", "ancre", rubis or "spiral" indicate a Swiss or French origin.
The Swiss Federal Cross mark often indicates a Swiss patent. To go to the page about Swiss hallmarks and other Swiss marks click on this link: This system was introduced to provide traceability back to the case manufacturer for precious metal cases. It is always seen on gold and platinum watch cases after that date, but rarely on silver cases. To make the marks relatively inconspicuous a system of the symbols shown here and registration numbers was used.
When one of the symbols shown in the picture was stamped in a watch case, the XX or XXX was replaced by the registration number indicating the maker of the watch case. They could be stamped in Switzerland by the case maker and the watch might never have been anywhere near to Germany. For more on this strange arrangement see German Marks. If you have a set of hallmarks that are stubbornly resisting your attempts to identify them, consider that they might possibly not be genuine. Hallmarks have been imitated and forged in the past, and no doubt will be in the future; you can't always trust everything that you see.
The marks here that look at first glance as if they might be British hallmarks; there is a leopard's head, a lion and a date letter. But these are not British hallmarks. They were stamped into a watch case with the intention of giving that impression and deceiving a potential purchaser into thinking that the watch is English. How can you tell whether hallmarks are genuine or fake?
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These are pretty easy to spot because it has 0. However, it is not always so easy and the only way to learn how to identify fake hallmarks is to look at lots of genuine examples and then the differences start to jump out at you. I have provided a lot of examples of genuine British hallmarks on the page at British hallmark examples. There is also a page that shows examples of fake hallmarks at fake hallmarks. But if you are still stuck, you are welcome to ask me for help via my Contact Me page.
If you are interested in the sponsor's marks found in gold and silver watch cases, an invaluable reference is Philip Priestley's Book "Watch Case Makers of England Philip has also written books on watch case sponsor's marks covering the earlier period of - and the watch case maker Dennison. Philip passed away in March This was completed by his widow and the editorial team of the NAWCC and is now available to purchase.
It includes all the material of the two earlier books about watchcase marks, and a lot of additional information. The term "hallmark" originated in when London gold and silver smiths were first required to take their work to Goldsmiths' Hall to be assayed and marked. Today it is used to mean a control mark applied to precious metals after assay testing by a legally authorised body that is independent of the manufacturer of the item. This provides a reliable indication of the fineness of the precious metal which is otherwise difficult for a purchaser to assess without specialised equipment.
There has never been an equivalent system of hallmarking in America and so there are no such thing as "American hallmarks". Watch case manufacturers stamped their own marks onto watch cases to show the fineness of the metal. The customer must either rely on the veracity of those marks or make their own tests. In the case of a well known watch case maker relying on the marks will be safe, but one must always be alert to the fact that the marks might not be what they purport to be: Before German states were independent and Sovereign and decided their own laws.
Each state, city state or city had their own stamps, or "Feingehaltstempel", for gold and silver. These were applied by the manufacturer of an item rather than in an independent assay office and should not be called hallmarks. The term "hallmark" originated in originated in when London craftsmen were first required to bring their work to Goldsmiths' Hall to be assayed and marked. It means that the item has been assayed and stamped hallmarked by someone independent of the manufacturer.
After the unification of the 39 sovereign German states into the German Empire in , country wide laws began to be introduced.
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In this law was revised. The law was implemented by the manufacturers who stamped their own products, there were no official independent German assay offices. The imperial crown, the Reichskrone, within a circle representing the sun Reichskrone und Sonne was to be stamped on gold, and a crescent or half moon with the imperial crown Halbmond und Reichskrone was stamped on silver.
The actual fineness of the metal was expressed in thousandths, and a mark identifying the company, or the trademark of the business, which stamped and guaranteed the marks.
Precious Metals Control Act 1880
These marks were stamped on imported items as well as German made items, so the sun and crown or half moon and crown can be seen alongside e. Swiss hallmarks such as the bear or grouse on Swiss items imported into Germany. The image here courtesy of Peter O.