British Silver Hallmarks – Amateur Detective Part 1

Now it is time to put our knowledge to good use. Do you still remember the basics?

Let us have a look at our beautiful item.



It is an exquisite silver cigarette case. Not only smokers will appreciate the fine flower pattern and elegance that you can almost touch.

But, when was it made? Where? Which silversmith was so talented? Thanks to our introduction of British hallmarks, we know how to answer those questions. Firstly, we need to look at the bottom to search for symbols.


In order to discover the truth behind this beauty, we will follow our simple 5-step process.

Step One

To confirm we are looking at genuine British silver we need to identify standard mark. Is it there? Right in the middle, we can see the lion mark. Now we know for sure our cigarette case is made according to 925/1000 sterling silver standard.

Step Two

Silversmiths can be found in every city. To identify the Assay Office that certified and guaranteed the quality of the silver we need to assign the symbol of an anchor, the second one from the left, to the city. Luckily, it is among 12 main Assay Offices in Britain. An anchor stands for Birmingham, and we know it is used since 1793. We are one step closer to learn the origin of this cigarette case.

Step Three

From 1793 until now is a very long period. To narrow the date of production we will look for duty mark. They were used only from 1784 to 1890. There is no monarch head among hallmarks. What does it mean? Cigarette case was made after 1890 and no additional tax was paid to the Crown.

Step Four

From 1890 until now is still, well, long. To know the exact date our cigarette case was produced we need to decipher the date mark. We already know this step is difficult and help is required. Fortunately, with assistance of the Assay Office from Birmingham we can solve the riddle. Let us have a look at the table with date marks. Do not forget to pay attention to the shape of the shield, font and letter size.


There it is! Lower case ‘g’. This cigarette case was made in 1906, and it is now 110 years old.

Step Five

We succeeded in answering where and when it was made. Would you like to know who is responsible for this irresistible piece of art? To answer that question, we will need a reference book and some free time. If we are lucky, one evening will suffice.

Cigarette case bears initials “J.G”. After research, we were able to identify the talented silversmith, Josef Gloster.

Summarizing, we are looking at cigarette case made of 925/1000 sterling silver, in Birmingham in 1906 by Jasef Gloster.

How does it feel to discover small mysteries hidden behind hallmarks? Our adventure will continue…

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