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and a distinct variable mark to be used by the warden of the said mystery, to denote the year in which such plate is made;..." This legislation remained in place until 1999 in which year the Government adopted European hallmarking practice which does not require that an assayed item of plate must be dated.Series of alphabetical letters were chosen to indicate the year of assaying (date letter) using "cycles of letters" of different font and size inside punches of various shapes.In origin he was "a man who did not gain the freedom of the City and was therefore a 'non Freeman' but was free of a livery company and thus qualified to ply his trade could do so as a 'journeyman' provided he was licensed by the corporation.Often he would continue to work for his old master in the capacity of journeyman but he could, if he wished, go to another workshop and sometimes a silversmith would remain a journeyman for all of his working life" (courtesy David Mckinley/ASCAS).
A special Assay Office mark was introduced to be used in the addition to the annual date letter, while the "F" mark was omitted.
The Sovereign's Head demonstrates the payment of the duty on the piece bearing it. In Glasgow the Sovereign's Head was introduced in 1819 while, from 1798, watchcases were exempted from the fee.
From July 15 1797, for nine months, the King's Head was duplicated owing to the Duty being doubled.
Any Assay Office adopted its own cycle of date letters so that only from the 1975 the four surviving Assay Offices use a uniform system of dating (optional from 1999).
These are the links to the date letters tables of main Assay Offices: London Birmingham Sheffield Chester Dublin Edinburgh Glasgow In early times the maker's mark was constituted by a symbol but from the 15th century the mark was formed by silversmith's name and surname initials.