hallmark

hallmark, mark impressed on silverwork or goldwork to signify official approval of the standard of purity of the metal, also called plate mark. The hallmark was introduced by statute in England in 1300 and enforced by the Goldsmiths' Hall, London. Similar marks, many of them unofficial, were used on the Continent and in America. Other marks used on plate include one for the place of assay; a date mark, usually a letter; the maker's touch, at first a symbol, later his initials or name; a duty mark, to signify payment of a tax; and the artisan's mark. Marks have also been used on plated ware, baser metals, and pottery. See china marks.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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