The Sovereign’s Head indicated that Duty had been paid on an item. It was struck from 2ndDecember 1784 to 30th April 1890. During this period a variable tax was levied on all silver and gold assayed in Great Britain. In Dublin the Sovereign’s Head Duty Mark was used from 1807 and in Glasgow from 1819. It should be noted that the head did not always change with the Monarch!
The duty on items that were exported was refunded. The figure of Britannia was used from December 1784 to July 1785 to indicate repayment.
From 1842 it was illegal to sell imported gold or silver in the UK unless it was assayed (tested) at a British office. In 1867 the Foreign Mark was added.
From 1904 the carat value of gold was also shown and for silver the decimal value of the standard was used. The Assay Office marks for gold would be in a Square shield with chamfered corners and in a blunt oval for silver.
Following a ruling of the European Court of Justice the UK is required to accept national hallmarks of member states who provide an equivalent guarantee. In 1999 changes were made to the Hallmarking Act 1973 and subsequently the Import Mark was removed.
The Fairtrade Stamp is applied by the Assay Office to articles made from Fairtrade Precious Metals. It means a safer working environment for small-scale miners, a fair price and an additional amount for business or community projects.
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