History of English Silver
The story of English (UK, England, Ireland & Scotland) Sterling (925) Silver
English silver always has a deep, traditional, and rich legacy. Even, for a period of hundreds of years, English silver has been widely accepted as the finest, exquisite, and elite class of silver across the world. We should thank both the zealous and jealous traditions of those Guild of Goldsmiths and completely unique system of Hallmarks which have accelerated to make the classic English silver more premium in its category. For the different style, period and motif of English silver, please click here.
Goldsmiths' Hall circa 1814
But What Has Made The English Silver So Special? :
These are some of the most outstanding, stunning, and sumptuous objects crafted by the greatest talent of eminent silversmiths of the late 18th & 19th centuries. Undoubtedly, these beautiful yet gorgeous pieces are amongst the elegant antique silver that is available on the market today.
Edward Feline, Christening Cup and Cover, 1731 (The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection)
The History Behind The Classic English Silver :
For more than six centuries, no other article had been allowed to be sold in the country of England as the sterling English silver until and unless it has been thoroughly tested at the “Hall” in order to examine and determine that the silver's quality is up to the expected standard of the nine hundred & twenty-five parts of one thousand pure silver. Whereas, the remaining seventy-five parts of the alloy are usually allowed to be made of copper. This combination together brings the process of aging and fashioning, gives the silver a delicate blue “patina.”
The Process Of Testing The Exquisite English Silver :
At the Hall, the English silver that passes the purity test gets stamped with a wide array of various identifying marks:
1. The Lion standing near the sideways with its raised front paw is purity tested in order to determine the required quality.
2. The insignia of the city or the town in which the purity test was made. (for example, London, is widely known by the symbol of the prestigious Leopard’s head, Birmingham is acknowledged by an Anchor and whereas, Sheffield is known by the mark of the Crown.)
3. Additionally, one letter of the alphabet is generally used in order to illustrate a particular year, thus it also represents the date too. As many cycles of alphabets can be used to write in several ways (a, A, a etc.), many years can be easily covered by this process.
Along with the above-mentioned marks, the silversmiths can also place his individual identifying symbol upon the English silver, usually the initials.
And from the hallmarks, the following can be promptly determined:
A. The purity of the silver.
B. The town of manufacture.
C. The date of manufacture.
D. Identification of the silversmith or the craftsmen.
For complete identification of English, UK, Ireland & Scotland Silver hallmark / marking, please click here.
The English Silver Research Till date
A Pair of George II Antique English Silver Sauce Boats (London)
With the virtue of laws of the Guilds, the silversmiths were generally required to complete an entire apprenticeship of a period of seven years in order to learn the craft properly. At the end of this period, the trainee or the apprentice could become a full-time member of this Guild being a talented and Master Silversmith. Also, in this way, the quality of metal and the quality of craftsmanship were easily protected.
When Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685, an estimated 250,000 Huguenots (French Protestants) fled the country for fear of persecution. Many of these emigrants were skilled silversmiths who took their talents to England to seek the religious freedom as they knew that it could be conveniently obtained there. As many of those French craftsmen had similar craftsmanship skills like the England’s finest silversmiths, their strong influence in the designing of English silver has been retained till date. For French Silver hallmark or marking, please click here.
A Complete New Era
In the 18th century, the civilization had witnessed the beginning of the historic industrial revolution. With this historic revolution, the introduction of tea became the national drink. Hence, these two factors easily provided enough wealth for the common people to buy English silver. It also had inspired the ordinary people the need of using it. Even, it had inspired to show off the one’s worldly possessions through the display of silver. During that time, the crafting of English silver was considered as a superior form of art, and it should be also remembered that the world accepted the silver standard at that time, not the gold.
The Present Scenario
Due to the highly sophisticated value of English silver, in 2016, the platform www.ChineseArgent.com has been created for discussion, reading, exchanges, and understanding for this wonderful metal and its aspects. More importantly, we hope to promote and share in Chinese Export Silver. Our goal is to create a platform to share, discuss and understand about Silver Art & Antiques
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