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The next step is to learn the meaning of the most common silver marks.England's system of hallmarks -- a variety of official emblems stamped on silver to attest to its purity -- is one of the oldest and most detailed.A final tip: It's a good idea to bring a small, cheap jeweler's loupe when you go shopping. Brown manufactured this sterling piece, as indicated by the name, but the hallmarks that follow are bogus, imitating the English system because of its cachet This example of coin carries the name of the silversmith, N. On the back of this sterling fork, the lion, anchor, and "G" identify the Gorham company.I need one for house sales held early in the morning or for those where the tableware has been relegated to a garage illuminated by a single lightbulb. On a spoon handle marked with the maker Crosby, Honnewell, and Morse is the number 925 -- a code for sterling.Early coin silver was often marked with the maker's name, and nothing else; sometimes it doesn't show even that.(Unmarked objects, of course, present the greatest mystery.) Eventually, manufacturers also started using the word coin.With silver marks, it's a tiny world, so it's best to come prepared. Electroplated nickel silver, or EPNS, is an alloy of nickel, copper, and zinc that's covered with a layer of pure silver in an electrochemical process.Nickel's resemblance to silver helps disguise any worn spots in the plating. (top), located in Birmingham, was Britain's biggest plate manufacturer and the world's first producer of electroplate.

People aren't necessarily looking only for sterling; they just want to know what they're buying.Some of the oldest American silver is coin, which contains an amount of the precious metal that was set by the U. Mint for coinage after the American Revolution: Coin made from 1792 to 1837 is composed of at least 89.2 percent silver and, thereafter, 90 percent.Sterling, in contrast, must be at least 92.5 percent silver.Silver plate has its own codes in the United States and abroad.The maker or company name is usually stamped on the back of the piece along with an indication that it's plated: in America, for instance, A1, AA, EP, sterling inlaid, or silver soldered.

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"Sterling" alone means solid sterling silver; if other words accompany it, beware.