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In 18th and 19th century Scotland more than 30 different silversmithing centres were active from Aberdeen to Wick with each ‘hammerman’ using their own mark.Specialist publications are essential for locating and unstanding the meaning of a huge proliferation of different marks and symbols used on Scottish provincial silver.

Since 1999 the inclusion of a date letter has not been compulsory.Since hallmarking began, the leopard’s head has been used in various forms to denote the London Assay Office.The Edinburgh mark is a three-turreted castle (to which a thistle was added from 1759 until 1975 when a lion rampant replace the thistle); the mark for Sheffield was a crown until 1974 when it was replaced by a rosette, while the symbol for silver made in Birmingham is an anchor.Although no longer compulsory, British hallmarks typically include a letter to indicate the year when a piece of silver was assayed.Generally the letter was changed annually until a complete alphabet had been used and then the cycle would begin again with an alteration to the style of letter or its surrounding shield.

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