After precious metal titles (1/5) and gold guarantee hallmarks (2/5), today we will talk about guarantee hallmarks related to the certification of legal titles of silver. As with gold, I will start with the highest title (999 ‰) and end with the lowest (800 ‰).
The “Amphora” hallmark is the one that guarantees silver at the highest titer, 999 ‰. It is a recent hallmark, as it has existed since 2002. This hallmark, which is very rare on jewellery, is only affixed by the guarantee office (and delegation is forbidden), so it is a title hallmark. It is mainly found on silver ingots. Finally, it is a hallmark that only concerns new works.
The “Minerva head” hallmark has existed for a very long time, in fact since 1838. But it has been modified several times. The title mark that I am presenting to you is the one that has been in force since 1973 and it is the one for silver called “1st title”. This hallmark is affixed by an office of guarantee and it guarantees the silver with a title of 925 ‰. You will notice a letter in the right hand corner. This changes every ten years. So we used A (1973-1982), B (1983-1992), C (1993-2002), D (2003-2013). So now you should see the E in the right-hand corner. It concerns only new works.
This hallmark is the silver hallmark “2nd title” and it guarantees silver at 800 ‰. It is a title hallmark, so it is affixed by the guarantee office. This hallmark has existed since 1973. It only concerns new works.
This hallmark is the one for silver with a title of 800 ‰ minimum, as it is the so-called “small guarantee” hallmark. It has existed since 1994. It is the most common hallmark on silver jewellery, as it is, more and more, affixed in delegation by the manufacturers. That said, it is common to find this hallmark on 925 ‰ grade work. Finally, the “Minerva head” concerns both new and second-hand items, provided that they are of French origin.
The “swan” hallmark is the hallmark for imported second-hand items whose origin is unknown or uncertain. It has existed since 1919, but has been modified. The hallmark I am presenting to you is the one that has been in circulation since 1984. The jewels which carry this hallmark were not manufactured in France. You should also know that this is a minimum mark. It guarantees that the work is made of at least 800 ‰ silver. If the coin is of a higher titre, this will not be indicated by the hallmark.
As with gold, there is the same “exempt from title” or so-called “low title” hallmark for silver. This is a little known hallmark, rarely used unless the object is recognised as being of artistic or historical interest. It can be found on coins with less than 800 ‰. It can be affixed by the guarantee offices but also by auctioneers and municipal credit officials. Nevertheless, it is not affixed systematically. Finally, it should be noted that all objects with a non-conforming title must be immediately reported to customs. It should be noted that this stamp only concerns second-hand works.
I know that the subject of hallmarks is complex. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments, I will try to answer them.
See you soon!