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Disclaimer: when I was invited to contribute to the anthology I had to say "no" because I was up to my eyeballs in work-related rabid ferrets (read: deadlines).

Dating silver plate marks

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Silver items with a slightly lower grade of silver, 800 parts per thousand, are marked with the head of Minerva, next to which is a "2".

French silver made for export carries an assay mark in the shape of the head of Mercury, along with a number to indicate the millesimal fineness: "1" for .920, "2" for .840 and "3" for .750.

The same logic was also used to frame gold hallmarks.

In the early United States, no national assaying system was adopted, although the city of Baltimore did maintain its own assay office between 18.For Sterling Silver the items are stamped either '925' or '.925' representing the 92.5% silver content which is the standard for Sterling Silver.For Gold the stamps will ne '9ct', '10ct', '18ct' or '24ct' indicating the purity or 'fineness' of gold in the jewellery.However, if a quality mark is used, the mark must be accompanied by a manufacturer's hallmark that is a registered trademark or the name of the manufacturer.If there is ever a question about the content of a piece of jewelry, the manufacturer can be traced using the hallmark stamped on the piece....US law requires a maker's mark in the form of a hallmark or registered trademark in addition to the quality mark if the goods are quality marked.