The Irish Hallmark
Each silver piece made by Séamus Gill is brought to the Irish Assay Office in Dublin Castle where it is independently tested then struck with the Irish hallmark. These four small marks guarantee you the provenance of who made the piece, where it was hallmarked, the quality of the silver and the year it was made.
The first mark is the maker’s mark, SG, the initials of Séamus Gill. The second is the Hibernian symbol, the symbol of the Irish Assay office. The next is the number 925 guaranteeing you it is made of 92.5% silver (the rest being copper which improves the working qualities of the silver).
The last mark is the date letter signifying the year the piece is made. For 2019 it is the letter I.
The Irish Assay office; https://www.assay.ie
Séamus Gill being welcomed onto the board by Master Warden John Bowen in May 2018 when he was elected as a member of the company of Goldsmiths of Dublin.
History of the Irish Hallmark
The Irish Hallmark dates back to 1637 when Charles I introduced a royal charter which established “The Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin” to protect the consumer and control the sale of precious metals in Ireland. Today, it is still operates under the same charter.
Originally, the Hallmark consisted the makers mark, the "Harp Crowned" the symbol of the kingdom of Ireland and the date letter. The letter changes each year and the font and shape of the shield changes with each alphabet. The current alphabet is the 17th cycle so a piece made in Ireland can be accurately dated back to 1637.
In 1730 a new mark, the Hibernia symbol was introduced to show that duty had been paid. From 1807 until 1890 a new duty mark, the kings head, was used and the Hibernian mark became the symbol of the Dublin Assay office and the Harp crowned the symbol of sterling silver.
In 2001 with the standardisation throughout Europe, the harp crowned was replaced with the numbers 925 indicating that the silver contains 92.5% silver.
Now based in Dublin Castle, the company assay’s and marks (called the hallmark after Goldsmiths Hall) each piece of precious metals made in Ireland. If a piece does not pass the standard for hallmarking it cannot be released for sale.
Occasionally the Irish Assay Office introduces an extra commemorative mark which is struck on silver.
In 1966 the “Claidheamh Solais” was struck to commemorate the golden jubilee of the 1916 rising. In 1973 the “Glensheen Collar” was struck to commemorate Ireland joining the European Community. In 1987 Arms of the Goldsmiths Company was struck to commemorate the 350 anniversary of the Company and in 1988 "the three castles" was struck to mark the millennium of the city of Dublin.
In 2000 the M2 symbol, to celebrate the transition to the new millennium was introduced . To celebrate the special hallmark Séamus Gill had his first solo exhibition with 35 pieces of silverware at the new Whichcraft Gallery in Dublin’s Temple Bar. The exhibition was opened by Ronald Le Bas, Assay Master of the Company of Goldsmiths.
At the time, Séamus Gill was commissioned by the Company of Goldsmiths, to make a silver water pitcher with the M2 symbol. The elegant water pitcher is now in the permanent collection of the Company of Goldsmiths.
In 2016, the Assay Office introduced hallmarking by laser and Séamus Gill was commissioned to make the first piece to be laser marked in Ireland. The silver bowl was raised from a flat sheet of silver was observed being laser marked by the minister of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD.
In 2016, the "triskadel" was introduced to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 rising (and the fiftieth anniversary of the first commemorative mark). Séamus Gill was commissioned to make a silver bowl which was the last piece hallmarked with the 2016 commemorative mark at the end of the year. It was laser marked with a laser inscription and is now in the Company of Goldsmiths collection.