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The standardising of the date letter sequence, shared by all four remaining assay offices in Birmingham, Edinburgh, London and Sheffield, were introduced to bring the UK system closer in line with other European Union standards.
The basic method of assaying, also known as the 'Cupellation' process, was first introduced by the ancient Egyptians.
Authentic British Sterling Silver, Gold or Platinum hallmarked items usually carry a minimum of 3 and up to 5 different stamped symbols.The punches are produced in various proportions, appropriate for petite pieces of jewellery to hefty items of Silverware.Punches are made in straight shanks for normal punching with a hammer, or ring shanks used with a press to mark rings.The process starts with a small sample of Silver being removed from the object to be tested, which is then carefully weighed and measured.The sample is placed in a Cupel, a small crucible made of bone ash, along with a small quantity of lead. The lead and any other base metals contained in the silver sample are either oxidized or absorbed into the Cupel, leaving only the pure silver behind.