Hallmarks date back over 700 years to the fourth century AD and were introduced by the Byzantine Empire as a standard to identify silver - their most precious alloy - through a series of punch marks in the metals surface, clearly indicating to the holder a guarantee of authenticity and purity.
In the UK, since 1300 the law has required anyone manufacturing gold or silver metal to ensure an accurate and legible hallmark is stamped on the item to provide an instant identification of the items purity and origin. The Hallmarking Act of 1973 introduced further guidelines to clarify the process of identifying the item’s manufacturer and make-up and to introduce a structure for hallmarking platinum metals. As of January 1999, all UK manufactured gold, silver and platinum must be identified with the marker or Sponsors mark, the assay office mark and the fineness code.
British Assay Office Marks
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