~SILVER MARKS & WHAT THEY MEAN~
Here are some common marks on silver or silverplate –
These marks mean the same standard as US silver prior to 1870-or 90% silver:
These marks mean the same as a content of 92.5% silver:
These marks mean electroplated, developed in the US around the Civil War by William Rogers:
EPNS Electroplate on Nickel Silver
EPC Electroplate on Copper
EPWM Electroplate on White Metal
EPBM Electroplate on Britannia Metal
EPNS-WMM Electroplate on Nickel Silver with White Metal Mounts
Foreign Marks on Sterling:
Austria Loth symbol and number 13 (813/1000) or Diana Portrait with Number 1-4
Denmark Three Towers (82.6% or higher)
European Free Trade Symbol of Scales with 925
Finland 813/830/916H or 925
England Lion Passant
France Profile with Helmet and Marked 1 or 2 (95% or 80%)
Germany Crescent Moon and Crown (80%)-Sometimes just number 800
Italy Profile Facing Left with Number 1,2, or 3; 925
Netherlands Lion with Number 1 or 2 (93.4% or 83.3%)
Norway 830S (83%)
Russia 84 or 96; Sometimes Woman’s Head (Zolotnick)
Sweden 3 Crowns in Cloverleaf or letter S within a Hexagon
Non-Invasive Tests for Silver –
FLEX Silver has a spring to it. It will “flex.” Silverplate does not yield as easily. You can also dent sterling a lot easier than denting silverplate, so be careful.
RING Silver will ring-similar to cut glass. This works for coins, but not really good for tableware. For coins, hold the coin in the middle with one hand and ping it with the other. It should ring.
SMELL Don’t count on this one.
HEFT This is kind of like intuitive reasoning. Once you have handled enough silver you will have an idea of what the weight should be, based on past experience. Not very conclusive.
TOUCH Both sterling and silverplate will have the same feel.
SEE Markings are the best indicator of whether the object is silver or not, unless it is fake. Then you might need an invasive test to confirm.
Tip: Sometimes polishing an item will reveal hidden markings, repairs, wear, and other indications of metal content.
Definition of Some Unusual Terms
Alaska Silver A base metal imitating silver-like Nevada Silver or German Silver.
Backstamping Marking a piece of silver with the retailer’s mark-not the maker.
Britannia Silver A silver alloy of high standard-usually 95.8%-not to be confused with Britannia Metal (pewter look).
Champleve Cuts into surface filled with enamel then polished
Cloisonne Similar to champlevé but use of wires soldiered to surface and then filled with enamel.
Diet A small sample scraped from a piece for purpose of assay.
Embossing Raising designs on silver from the reverse side by hammering (similar to repousse).
Engraving Cutting a design into a piece using an engraving tool.
Flatware Tableware items that are “flat.”
Hollowware Items that are not flatware but hollow (bowls, vases, etc.).
Ingot Bar of metal.
Matting Punching of dots to produce a rough surface.
Niello Black inlay used as decorative markings in silver.
Parcel Gilt Only part of article is treated with gilding.
Plique-a-jour Transparent enamel without a backing, enclosed within metal frames, imitates stained glass.
Vermeil Gilded silver, same as gilding.