On this page there is a brief description of a number of different types of hallmarks that you are likely to find in a watch case, and then for the British and Swiss marks there are links to take you to the full page of information for that type of mark.If you want to get a book about English hallmarking, Bradbury's Book of Hallmarks published by the Sheffield Assay Office is a long established reference.Please bear in mind that if an item is bears only basic marks, such as "SIL", "9CT" or "18K", or even no hallmarks- this does not mean that the item is fake- it's very likely that the item was crafted in a country of different hallmarking laws or produced before hallmarking laws were implaced.
The estate sales people often miss these sterling treasures and sell them cheap, not realizing their great value.
I once purchased a English silver sovereign case for $5 at an estate sale and later sold it on e Bay for $250.
If you are not sure then it is advised that you take your item to a reliable jeweller for advice.
Try not to ask high street scrap metal buyers, unless very experienced.
I have personally witnessed a staff member of a chain scrap dealers offer a 9CT Gold scrap price, on an 18CT Gold ring (that was in perfect condition), based on the fact it didn't bear full UK hallmarks.
British sterling silver hallmarks help to identify the maker and year of manufacture of sterling silver items produced by Great Britain.
In Britain our system developed about six hundred years ago, when laws were passed to fix the purity of silver in manufactured silver articles to be at least 925 parts of silver in every thousand parts.
In Europe the hallmarking of precious metal objects was, and still is, a legally required process.
Most sponsors' marks take the form of initials surrounded by a shield design – this is important, as many different sponsors may have the same initials.
Other hallmarks, like commemorative or duty marks, can also provide clues to help you date your object.
However the main object of silver hallmarking was and is to protect the public against fraud.