On the following page we give four of the London alphabets, the Court hand, the Old English capitals and Small Capitals being easily distinguishable. These examples, specially drawn, have been taken from numerous examples and various sources, the exact forms of the letters having been copied as far as possible. It should be understood, however, that the usual rubbing of silver for many long years, and the indifferent and even careless way in which the stamping was some-times done has made it difficult, in many cases, to identify marks some of which appear very similar as, for instance, the marks of 1646 and 1704, and 1654 and 1712. The shields, too, of these earlier periods are very similar unless the collector has several pieces of the same date to compare. The pieces owned by " home connoisseurs " usually are of later periods although not a few have plate hall-marked in the days of Queen Anne. The collector simply revels in the search for old spoons and other little objects hall marked at an early date and when he discovers any without the Sovereign's head added after the introduction of the duty on silver in the reign of George III, he may be pardoned for occasionally making a mistake in the cycle of letters, the formation of which is at least not very familiar to present day collectors. As we have mentioned the difference in the shape of the shield used in the seventeenth century on to the end of 1716 is similar. When, however, we reach the new cycle of Roman Capitals in 1716 (see illustration on page 71) we get on a surer basis and the collector has little difficulty in ascertaining the date of his plate, for the shields are different and the letters clearly impressed.

London Hallmark Date Letters

London Hallmark Date Letters

The correct form of the shields from 1716 to 1815 are given here and can readily be distinguished by the shields, bearing in mind the simple data which is as follows : From 1716-1717 to 1734-1735 (inclusive) the alphabet, omitting " J," " U," " V'" ff X'" c4 Y " and " Z," consisted of Roman capitals ; from 1736-1737 to 1755-1756, small Roman letters ; from 1756-1757 to 1795-1796 Old English capitals ; from 1776-1777 to 1795-1796 small Old English letters ; and from 1796-1797 to 1815-1816 Roman capitals. The shapes of the Shields used during ;.the period 1716-1717 to 1815-1816 are as under:

London Hallmark Shields

London Hallmark Date Shields