hallmarks. A mark stamped on articles of precious metals in Britain, since the 14th century, certifying their purity. It derives its name from the Guild Hall of the Goldsmiths' Company, who recieved its Charter in 1327 giving it the power to assay (test the purity) and mark articles of gold and silver.
The hallmark will consist of several marks, including the:
- silver standard mark, indicating the purity of the metal. Sterling silver is .925 pure silver.
- the city mark indicating the city in which it was assayed eg London, Birmingham, York etc.
- the date mark, usually a letter of the alphabet in a particular font and case,
- a duty mark, indicating whether duty had been paid to the crown, and only in use from 1784 to 1890
The piece may include an additional mark, the maker's mark, although not forming part of the hallmark, will be located in the vicinity of the hallmarks.
Sometimes silver plated items will bear faux hallmarks, often confusing those not familiar with silver markings.
The buyers premium is an additional percentage charge on the hammer price of the item, imposed by the auction house to cover administrative costs. The buyers premium percentage varies between auction houses, with a range of 12.5% to 22%.