Rarity dictates that Scottish/Irish provincial silver is highly collectable, most obviously in the flatware and hollow wares produced in provincial Ireland and Scotland.
In Ireland, silversmiths in Cork, Limerick and beyond simply marked their silver with the word ‘Sterling’ and a maker’s initials.
Silver struck with the half leopard’s head and half fleur de lys of York (closed 1856) and the crowned X or a three-turreted castle of Exeter (closed 1883) can be collectable on account of its rarity and sense of place.
Below is list of marks applied by provincial assay offices which have now ceased operating: Chester - closed in 1962 Mark: three wheat sheaves and a sword Exeter - closed in 1883 Marks: a crowned X or a three-turreted castle Glasgow - closed in 1964 Mark: combined tree, bird, bell and fish Newcastle upon Tyne - closed in 1884 Mark: three separated turrets Norwich - closed by 1701 Mark: a crowned lion passant and a crowned rosette York - closed in 1856 Mark: half leopard's head, half fleur de lys and later five lions passant on a cross For many reasons town silversmiths in Ireland and Scotland seldom sent their plate to Edinburgh, Glasgow or Dublin to be assayed.
Accordingly, it is increasingly common to see silver catalogued with a two-year date range.
Since 1999 the inclusion of a date letter has not been compulsory.
Dublin’s assay office has been operating since the middle of the 17th century and silver is still marked there.
Specialist publications help explain different makers’ or sponsors’ marks, with Sir Charles Jackson’s , first published in 1905 and revised in 1989, still the most authoritative work on the subject.
For a variety of reasons this practice was not always adhered to and the resulting anomalies can be seen in the tables of marks.
However, the date letter system allows antique plate to be dated more accurately than almost all other antiques.
In addition to the four examples shown below, the head of Elizabeth II facing right was used to mark her Golden Jubilee in 2002 and another set in a diamond was used from July 2011 to October 1, 2012, to mark the Diamond Jubilee.
Since 1972 the United Kingdom has been a signatory to the International Convention on Hallmarks.