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What Exactly Is Britannia Silver?

If you look carefully at the 20th Century silver section you may come across a simple pair of kitchen peppers.  

They were made by the prominent London silversmith William Comyns and have a detailed family crest engraved to each.

But what makes them stand out from all the other silver on our website?  Well it is the fact that these are made in a rare and purer form of silver.

From as early as the 14th Century silver was tested and marked with a lion mark to guarantee that it was at least 92.5% pure.  This is known as Sterling standard.

   

However, towards the end of the 17th Century as the country was still recovering from the civil war and as silver was in short supply the silversmiths of the day took to melting down or clipping coins to continue working.

This became such a problem that in 1696 William III forced all silversmiths to work in a purer form at 95.8%.  This became known as Britannia and was given the symbol of a lady sitting on a throne.

Sterling was re-introduced in 1720 as the shortage of silver had died away.  

Yet the Britannia mark was kept and has remained a legal standard through the centuries, hence it's used in 1914 for these lovely kitchen peppers.

Today the Sheffield silversmiths Francis Howard use Britannia for certain items in their range due to the softer lustre it produces.

       

 

 



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