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The metal is tested and marked at special offices, regulated by the government, known as assay offices.
Only metal of the required standard will be marked.
It is a form of consumer protection, whose origin goes back almost 1000 years.
There are so many different hallmarks found on British silver that to know all of them would be impossible.
The marks serve several functions: * they verify that the item is of the correct quality. * where appropriate, they record that duty has been paid on the item. The year in which a piece of Irish silver was made can be determined by the date letter – this is one of the marks described above, applied by the assay office when it is hallmarked.