Today and for the past few centuries, this stamp or silver hallmark has shown the place and year of manufacture of the assayed silver item, as well as the silversmith who made or sponsored the item.

The laws governing silver hallmarking are very strict and if an item does not comply with a standard the item will not be hallmarked and will probably be destroyed.

You can't pore over auction records and price guides to find values for your silver and silver plated antiques if you don't know exactly what you have, including when and where it was produced along with who made it.

Antique silver hallmarks have been used to control the quality of goods made of silver since the 14th century and the organisation that regulates the craft, Goldsmiths Hall, gave the world the term hallmark.

This is to ensure it is of the required sterling silver standard and, provided it conforms to a standard, a series of symbols are stamped into each part of the item.

Some patterns were meant to mimic the styles of earlier eras or places—Louis XIV-inspired patterns, evoking the opulent grandeur of 17th- and 18th-century France, are particularly common. Most companies produced multiple patterns at a time, each with a descriptive or important-sounding name—from Buttercup, Daffodil, and Narcissus to Canterbury, Lafayette, and Duke of York.

These patterns were often made continuously for decades, so the name of a maker and a pattern is not necessarily the best way to date a piece.

This is a list of American silver marks and solid American silver. Ornate capital letters or the fleur-de-lis were used in France.

Other lists include silver-plated wares and pewter. Four or five small pictorial marks usually indicate England as the country of origin. Become familiar with the English king or queen’s head mark as an indication of age. Silver was stamped with a lion for London, a thistle for Edinburgh. A hand indicates Antwerp, a spread eagle Germany or Russia.This standard -- 92.5 parts pure silver to 7.5 parts copper alloy, which strengthens the softer silver -- was established by the English during the 12th century and later adopted by most of the silver-making world, including the United States in 1868Many people think of coin as much less valuable than sterling, but it has only about 2 percent less silver and, in some cases, may even contain more.Because of its age and beauty, a piece made from coin can sometimes be worth more than American sterling.Use this guide to discover some of the favorite spots where those in the know go online.You will learn to understand and research silver origins, craftsmen, and manufacturers using hallmarks, along with a few online value guides to help you with that daunting task as well.For this reason, knives, forks, spoons, and serving utensils from these periods tend to be less collectible than handmade pieces, even those from more recent times. Rogers was known for his Elberon pattern, whose decorative edges extended all the way from the end of the handle to the base of the working part of the utensil itself.