The Mark of Origin or Town Mark, differing at each assay office, was introduced in London at the beginning of the 14th century. This enables the location of the office of assay to be traced.

To ‘assay’ means to test and assess the precious metal content of an item.


The oldest English Hallmarking authority, The Goldsmith’s Company, administrators of the London Assay Office. Goldsmith’s Hall became the permanent home for the assay office in London, 1478. Depicted by a Leopard’s head from as early as 1300.


Established and opened by Act of Parliment in 1773. The very distinguishing mark of an Anchor. During the 20th century, the Anchor was placed on it’s side for gold (platinum from 1975) and upright for silver. From 1999 the Anchor is placed on it’s side for ALL METALS.


Dating as far back as the 17th century, Chester silver was struck with a hallmark depicting the three wheatsheaves and a sword in a shaped shield. In 1701, the assay mark changed to the Arms of Chester (three lions), however it reverted back to the earlier mark in 1779. Unfortunately, Chester closed their doors for the final time 24th August 1962.


The Hallmarking of Irish silver began towards the middle of the 17th century. The Dublin office established in 1637, closed 1923. Depicted by a crowned harp. Appears next to a date letter and a maker’s mark. In 1731, Hibernia was added to the hallmarks.


Since 1457, the opening of the Edinburgh assay office, all scottish hallmarks have been regulated by statute. Depicted by a three towered castle, usually alongside the maker’s mark and deacon’s mark. In 1759, the maker’s mark was changed to a thistle and this continued until 1975, when it was replaced by the lion rampant.


The Town Mark was depicted by a letter X usually in a round shield, sitting below a crown. In 1701, this was replaced with a three towered castle. Looked very similar to that of Edinburgh. Opened in 1700 and continued until it’s closure in 1883.


First definitive marks found in late 17th century, although we know that goldsmith’s worked in Glasgow from mid 16th century. The town mark consisted of a Tree, Bird, Bell, Fish and Ring motif. Closed briefly in 1784 whereby Edinburgh took over the assaying of all marks. Glasgow regained it’s own office in 1819 and continued until it’s closure in 1964.


Opened mid 17th century with a town mark of three seperate castles in a shield. A large quantity of silver was assayed in Newcastle in the early 18th century. Mainly of a domestic nature. For example, coffee pots and tankards and two handed cups priduced in this town. Closed in 1883.


Silver was made and assayed in Norwich and traced back to the middle of the 16th century. The town mark depicted a Castle surmounting a Lion Passant. This sat with a date letter and maker’s mark. Norwich closed it’s doors in 1701.


Opened in 1773, the first marks being struck on the 20th September. The first date letter to accompany the Crown (town mark up until 1974) was the letter E. This varied, irregularly each year, until 1824 after which they were arranged alphabetically.  After 1903, when Sheffield was finally allowed to assay and hallmark gold as well as silver (the result of a clause in the Sheffield Corporation Act), Sheffield had two town marks – the Crown for silver and the Rose for gold.


Assayed in this old Yorkshire capital from the middle of the 16th century, silver carried the mark of origin of a halved Leopard’s head with a Fleur-de Lys. Due to the importance of York as a provincial city, spoons have been made here from the early 15th Century, and an assay office with a date lettering system was established in 1559. The first assay office was closed down at the enforced introduction of Britannia Silver as the minimum standard in 1697, only to be re-opened by Act of Parliament in 1701. This new assay office had a new symbol, that of with five lions passant on a cross. This did not last long, as it closed it’s doors again in 1716.

Unfortunately, there has never been an assay office in Wales. This is due to the close proximity to the Chester assay office and lack of demand.

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