Sterling Letter Box

Sterling Letter Box

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A silver object that is to be sold commercially is, in most countries, stamped with one or more silver hallmarks indicating the purity of the silver, the mark of the manufacturer or silversmith, and other (optional) markings to indicate date of manufacture and additional information about the piece. In some countries, the testing of silver objects and marking of purity is controlled by a national assayer's office.

35 Chocksett Rd. Sterling, MA 01564. Elsa Peretti, a true pioneer of design, translates all she sees in the natural world into jewelry that is sculptural, organic and irresistibly sensual. Peretti’s revolutionary aesthetic enchanted the world after she joined Tiffany & Co. In 1974, changing the role of diamonds in fashion for everyday wear and elevating the status of sterling.

Hallmarks are applied with a hammer and punch, a process that leaves sharp edges and spurs of metal. Therefore, hallmarking is generally done before the piece goes for its final polishing.

Hallmarks on British sterling (L-R): Crown signifying city of Sheffield, lion passant, Letter n of a style dating piece to 1905, maker's insignia for Walker & Hall.
1680 maker's mark on base of a candlestick, for Robert Cooper, London

The hallmark for sterling silver varies from nation to nation, often using distinctive historic symbols, although Dutch and UK Assay offices no longer strike their traditional hallmarks exclusively in their own territories and undertake assay in other countries using marks that are the same as those used domestically.

United Kingdom and Ireland[edit]

One of the most highly structured hallmarking systems in the world is that of the United Kingdom, (Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland), and Ireland. These five nations have, historically, provided a wealth of information about a piece through their series of applied punches. Since 2015 visually identical UK Hallmarks are being struck in India and Italy by sub-offices of Birmingham & Sheffield Assay Offices respectively:

London assay office hallmarks on the back of a waiter, or small square salver. Marks indicate it is Britannia gauge silver made by (or for) Paul de Lamerie (taken to or) in London and dated 1732 (it could have been made a year or two earlier than 1732).
  • A stamp indicating the purity of the silver is called the assayer's mark. The mark for silver meeting the sterling standard of purity is the Lion Passant, but there have been other variations over the years, most notably the mark indicating Britannia purity. The Britannia standard was obligatory in Britain between 1697 and 1720 to try to help prevent British sterling silver coins from being melted to make silver plate. It became an optional standard thereafter, and in the United Kingdom and Ireland is now denoted by the millesimal fineness hallmark '958', with the symbol of Britannia being applied optionally. The purity mark for Irish silver is the harp crowned.
  • The date mark is a letter indicating the exact year in which the piece was made. The typeface, whether the letter is uppercase or lowercase, and even the shape inside which the letter is stamped, must all be taken together to determine the year.
  • The city mark no longer indicates the city in which the piece was assayed, or that the item was assayed in the UK. A Legislative Reform Order (LRO) came into law on 8 February 2013 giving UK Assay Offices the legal right to strike hallmarks outside of UK territory. Since July 2016 Birmingham Assay Office have been striking Birmingham Hallmarks in Mumbai, India and there are proposals for further offshore marking centres. In March 2018 the British Hallmarking Council announced that in future, items assayed and marked offshore must be distinguishable from those assayed in the UK. An additional mark to indicate that an item was assayed outside the UK is likely to be introduced in 2018. Sheffield Assay have a sub-office in Malpensa, Italy. London and Edinburgh Assay Offices are the only two Assay offices exclusively striking hallmarks in the UK.
Shows the hallmarks for two pieces of English silver (from the workshops of George Adams (1842) and Joseph & Albert Savory (1838)) each with a tally mark added (the letter B on one and a small dot on the other). Both pieces also have a Duty Mark (Queen Victoria).
  • Each silver maker has his or her own, unique maker's mark. This hallmark is usually a set of initials inside an escutcheon. The Legislative Reform Order (LRO) which came into law on 8 February 2013 also changed the requirements for sponsor marks, allowing logos to be used for the first time, as long as they provide the required traceability.
  • Irish silver also contains the image of Hibernia. This mark was introduced in 1730, and is still in use today.

The series of hallmarks described above are still in use in today.

However, there are two silver hallmarks that have been discontinued:

  • Beginning on 1 December 1784, British law mandated that a duty mark be applied to silver pieces. This showed that the requisite tax had been paid to the Crown. The duty mark was a profile of the head of the current reigning monarch. The mark was discontinued in 1890.
  • An additional British hallmark that is no longer used is the tally mark, which was the unique mark of a journeyman finishing his apprenticeship. These marks were used as a record of the pieces made by each journeyman so that each could be given proper payment.


Since the year 1838, the French assay mark for items made of solid silver is the head of the goddess Minerva in profile. The French have two standards for silver purity or fineness. The higher is 950 parts per thousand, or 95% silver referred to as 1st Standard. The lower grade of silver is 800 parts per thousand, or 80% silver referred to as 2nd Standard. Both standards are marked with the head of Minerva inclusive of a numeral 1 or 2 to indicate the standard.

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.

French silver also is punched with the mark of the maker, by law in the shape of a lozenge, usually with the maker's initials and a symbol.

United States[edit]

In the early United States, no national assaying system was adopted, although the city of Baltimore did maintain its own assay office between 1814 and 1830.[citation needed] Prior to the general adoption of sterling silver as the standard of purity in 1868, silver was generally obtained from the melting of coins. Since these could vary considerably in purity, from around .750 millesimal fineness to around .900, silver known as 'coin silver' varies in purity. Silver at that time was sometimes marked 'COIN' or 'PURE COIN', but can also be without a standard mark altogether. After the adoption of the sterling standard, pieces were marked with 'STERLING', the number '925' or the notation '925/1000'.[citation needed]

The United States also had no date marking system. Because of this, some companies within the U.S., such as Tiffany, Reed & Barton and Gorham, adopted their own date marking systems.[citation needed]


While American manufacturers did not apply assay marks, city marks or date marks, they did apply a maker's mark. This is generally not done today. The old hallmarks were as unique as today's logos, and disputes often arose when one company copied another's stamp.[citation needed]

'The words ”silver” and ”sterling silver” describe a product that contains 92.5% pure silver. Silver products sometimes may be marked 925, which means that 925 parts per thousand are pure silver. Some jewelry described as ”silver plate” has a layer of silver applied to a base metal. ”Coin silver” is used for compounds that contain 90% pure silver. According to the law, quality-marked silver also must bear the name or a U.S. registered trademark of the company or person that will stand behind the mark.'[1]


Between 1867 and 1933, Austria-Hungary and later, Hungary used the crescent moon crowned head of ancient Greek heroine Diana as the hallmarking symbol of legal silver alloys. The head was encircled by a frame, optionally composed of convex, concave and straight lines. One concave line represented 140/1000 fineness, a straight one 150 and a convex one 160. For example, a Diana head within a frame made in the shape of a 5-petal flower represented 5x160 = 800 thousands fineness, a local silver standard commonly used in table forks and spoons. Meanwhile, a hexagonal frame represented 900 fine silver. This same system was also used to frame gold hallmarks.


  1. ^
  • John Bly: Discovering Hallmarks on English Silver, Shire Publications Ltd., seventh edition 1986, Aylesbury, Bucks ISBN0-85263-796-9
  • Cinamon, Diana Sanders (2007). All About Antique Silver with International Hallmarks. San Bernardino, CA: AAA Publishing. ISBN0-9785168-0-X.
  • Venable, Charles L. (1997). Silver in America, 1840 – 1940: A Century of Splendor (third ed.). New York, NY.: Harry N. Abrams.
  • Hood, William P. Jr. (1999). Tiffany Silver Flatware, 1845 – 1905: When Dining Was an Art. Suffolk, England.: Antique Collectors Club.
  • Rainwater, Dorothy T.; Redfield, Judy (1998). The Encyclopedia of American Silver Manufacturers (fourth ed.). Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing.
  • Wyler, Seymour B. (1937). The Book of Old Silver, English – American – Foreign, With All Available Hallmarks Including Sheffield Plate Marks. New York, NY: Crown Publishers.
  • original author unknown (2000). International Hallmarks on Silver Collected by Tardy (reprint ed.).

External links[edit]

  • Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Maker's Marks, comprehensive research site documenting American & International silver hallmarks
  • A comprehensive guide to American sterling silver flatware. Makers mark library, history, and care of silver.
  • A Small Collection of Antique Silver and Objects of vertu, created by Italian Giorgio B.
  • Weldons of Dublin Blog with information on Irish silversmiths and Irish Hallmarks]
Retrieved from ''

Also found in: Thesaurus, Legal, Financial, Acronyms, Idioms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


1. Abbr. ster. or stg. British money, especially the pound as the basic unit of currency of the United Kingdom.
2. British coinage of silver or gold, having as a standard of fineness 0.500 for silver and 0.91666 for gold.
b. Articles, such as tableware, made of sterling silver.
1. Consisting of or relating to sterling or British money.
3. Of the highest quality: a person of sterling character.
[Middle English, silver penny : possibly sterre, star; see star + -ling, diminutive suff. (from the small star stamped on the coin); see -ling1.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˈstɜːlɪŋ) n1. (Currencies)
b. (as modifier): sterling reserves.
2. (Banking & Finance) the official standard of fineness of British coins: for gold 0.91666 and for silver 0.925
3. (Metallurgy)
b. (as modifier): a sterling bracelet.
4. (Metallurgy) an article or articles manufactured from sterling silver
5. (Historical Terms) a former British silver penny
(prenominal) genuine and reliable; first-class: sterling quality.
[C13: probably from Old English steorra star + -ling1; referring to a small star on early Norman pennies; related to Old French esterlin]


(ˈstɜːlɪŋ) n
(Biography) Peter. born 1960, Australian rugby league player: played 18 matches for Australia (1982–88)
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈstɜr lɪŋ)
1. of or denoting the currency of Great Britain.
2. (of silver) having the standard fineness of 0.925.
4. thoroughly excellent: a person of sterling worth.
6. the standard of fineness for gold and silver coin in the United Kingdom, 0.91666 for gold and 0.500 for silver.
7. silver having a fineness of 0.925, now used esp. in the manufacture of table utensils, jewelry, etc.
9. sterling flatware.
[1250–1300; Middle English: a silver coin (see star, -ling1)]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
Noun1.sterling - British money; especially the pound sterling as the basic monetary unit of the UK
money - the official currency issued by a government or national bank; 'he changed his money into francs'
Adj.1.sterling - highest in quality
superior - of high or superior quality or performance; 'superior wisdom derived from experience'; 'superior math students'
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


adjectiveexcellent, sound, fine, first-class, superlativehis years of sterling service
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002
الإِسْتِرلِينِيجنيه إسْتَرليني العِملَه البَريطانيّهمُثير للإعْجابمَصنوع من الفِضَّه الخالِصَه
Ison-Britannian punta
af stöîluîum gæîaflokki, ósvikinn, ektaágætursterlingspund
nustatytos prabossterlingas
britu valūtacēlsirdīgsgodīgsnevainojamsnoteiktas raudzes-
đồng bảng Anh


1. (Econ) pound sterlinglibrafesterlina
sterling traveller's chequeschequesmpl de viaje en librasesterlinas
2. [quality etc] → destacado
a sterling characteruna persona de toda confianza
a person of sterling worthuna persona de grandesméritos
C.CPDsterling areaNzonafde lalibra esterlina
sterling balancesNPLbalancesmpl de librasesterlinas
sterling silverNplataf de ley
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


(= excellent) [qualities, character, work, service] → en or
(= currency) → livrefsterlinginv
a pound sterling → une livre sterling
£5 sterling → cinq livressterlingsterling area nzonefsterlinginv
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(Fin) → Sterling-; in pounds sterlingin Pfund Sterling
sterling cutlerySilberbestecknt
no art(= money)das Pfund Sterling, das englischePfund; in sterlingin Pfund Sterling
adj attraus (Sterling)silber
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


a. (silver) → al titolo di 925/1000, di buonalega (Econ) pound sterlinglira sterlina
b. (fig) of sterling qualitiesdi granpregio
he is of sterling character → è una personafidata

Sterling Letter Box Set

Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈstəːliŋ) noun
(usually £ when written) British money, especially in international trading etc. sterling جنيه إسْتَرليني العِملَه البَريطانيّه лира стерлинг libra esterlina sterling der Sterling sterling στερλίνα naelsterling استرلينگ؛پول رايج انگلستان punta livre sterling שְׁטֶרלִינג पाउण्ड funta sterlinga (britanski novac) sterling sterling sterlingspund sterlina 英貨 영국 파운드의 약자 sterlingas britu valūta sterling Brits geld sterlingfunt szterling سټرلنګ (دبرتانيې پولى واحد libra esterlina liră sterlină стерлинг šterling šterling sterling sterling สกุลเงินอังกฤษ sterlin 英鎊(英國貨幣) англійська валюта برطانیہ کا سنہری سکہ đồng bảng Anh 英镑(英国货币)

Sterling Letter Opener

1. (of silver) of a certain standard of purity. sterling مَصنوع من الفِضَّه الخالِصَه истински de lei standardní von Standardwert prima κανονικής περιεκτικότητας puhas تمام عيار puhdas fin, de bon aloi טוהר खरा, असली koji je bez standardne čistoće, bez primjesa (zlato, srebro) törvényes finomságú perak murni af stöðluðum gæðaflokki, ósvikinn, ekta puro, sterling 法定純度の (금, 은이) 법정 순도의 nustatytos prabos noteiktas raudzes- (sudrabs) sterling zuiversterling pełnowartościowy دسټرلنګ: دسټرلنګ له زورو څخه جوړ شوى: بوب، خالص، نګخ، سوچه de lei veritabil, adevărat установленной пробы štandardný ki je standardne čistine standardne čistoće sterling[silver] ที่ทำด้วยเงินบริสุทธื์ hâlis, has (銀的)標準純度的 такий, що відповідає встановленій пробі خالص اور معیاری thât, đúng tuổi (银的)标准纯度的

Sterling Box Company Sterling Il

2. (of a person or his qualities etc) worthy and admirable. voortreflik مُثير للإعْجاب надежден excelente poctivý, ryzí gediegen prima εξαίρετος tubli, väärt بي نهايت وفادار kunnollinen de confiance נַעֲלֶה उत्कृष्ट, उत्तम prav, valjan kiváló mulia ágætur ottimo 立派な (사람, 성격)이 훌륭한, 뛰어난 puikus, nepriekaištingas nevainojams; cēlsirdīgs; godīgs mulia eersteklashelstøptwartościowy خالص excelente excepţional, de încredere безупречный poctivý; rýdzi vreden pouzdan äkta, gedigen, fullödig (บุคคล) น่าชมเชย gerçek, hakiki 優秀的 повноцінний; бездоганний قابل اعتماد có chân giá trị 优秀的
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.


الإِسْتِرلِينِي šterlink sterlingPfund Sterlingστερλίναlibra esterlina Ison-Britannian puntasterling funtasterlina 英貨 파운드pond sterlingsterlingfunt szterling

Sterling Box Company

libra esterlinaфунт стерлингов brittiska pund สกุลเงินของสหราชอาณาจักรอังกฤษsterlin đồng bảng Anh英国货币
Multilingual Translator © HarperCollins Publishers 2009

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