Dating english silver plate
The marks of the first group (used in 1880-1886) contain the word "WMF", formed of three letters, "W", "M", and "F", with dots in between or without and made with a "sans serif" font.Interestingly, sometimes the letters "M" and "F" are joined together.Note a comma which is used for the volume designation. The fraction "I/O" means the normal thickness of silver deposited onto the surface of the base metal (usually, on brass).The two-letter inscription "The second group of WMF marks contains the marks with four-letter letterings, with dots or without, which are the combinations of the word "WMF" with the following letters: "M", "N" (rarely) or "B".Such a "merged" style of writing was borrowed from the early marks of Berndorfer Metallwarenfabrik (Berndorf Metalware Factory) or BMF in Austro-Hungary, which were in use in 1870-1880 .
Hallmarks are applied with a hammer and punch, a process that leaves sharp edges and spurs of metal.
Therefore, hallmarking is generally done before the piece goes for its final polishing.
The hallmark for sterling silver varies from nation to nation, often using distinctive historic symbols, although Dutch and UK Assay offices no longer strike their traditional hallmarks exclusively in their own territories and undertake assay in other countries using marks that are the same as those used domestically.
One of the most highly structured hallmarking systems in the world is that of the United Kingdom, (Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland), and Ireland.
These five nations have, historically, provided a wealth of information about a piece through their series of applied punches.