There was a simple reason for this seemingly Draconian behaviour in that the manufacture of silver and gold was allied to the minting of currency.
Sometimes called the Sterling Mark, the lion passant, the mark for Made in England, first appeared on English silver and gold in 1544.
For two years it was crowned, but has been struck ever since in its present form by all English Assay Offices.
Scouring online resources offers a wealth of information on sterling silver and silver plated wares to assist you in your research tasks.
But, to be honest, some are much better than others.
This applies to hollowware -- such as cups, bowls, teapots, and vases -- too.
The first step in deciphering these marks is to learn what kinds of silver are out there.
You can't pore over auction records and price guides to find values for your silver and silver plated antiques if you don't know exactly what you have, including when and where it was produced along with who made it.
Easier said than done when some symbols on antique and collectible silver can be thoroughly confusing without resources to point you in the right direction.Sometimes the shapes of serving utensils didn’t tell you much about their use.A 19th-century sardine fork might reasonably be mistaken for a miniature lawn rake, while the cake servers from that era often look like hair combs.When it comes to antique sterling silver flatware, age is not everything.For example, much of the flatware from the Victorian and Edwardian eras were mass-produced.To further muddle matters, companies such as American silver giant Reed & Barton made the same patterns in both silver plate and sterling silver, which, again, makes dating a particular piece of flatware difficult.