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Is anyone aware of any significance to the alphabetic characters stamped in Omega silver cases? I have one in an open face case which is marked 0.800 which I understand is coin silver. Below the case serial number the alphabetic character 'H' is stamped. The other case is a hunter case but there is no stamp for the silver content. The number 43 followed by a backward C and 9719, below this the digits 16 are stamped and below that the character Z. The same characters are stamped on both back and front covers. Both cases have a hallmark stamp on the stem a squirrel (I think) on the 0.800 case but I can't tell what the other stamp is. I think I can see a difference in the color of the metal after polishing, the 0.800 case appears less silvery than the unmarked one.
Well, after looking at the Swiss hallmarks in THE BOOK, and looking at the mark on the watch without my bifocal contact lenses, I can see that the mark on the 0.800 case looks more like a mutated aberrant species of turkey so it matches the mark for 0.800. The mark on the other case is different; the leftmost part looks like a stylized fir tree and I can't make out the remainder. Any ideas what this is for?
Check out page 455 in the 2006 Guide, you will find your Turkey looking bird there too! I had trouble with the Swiss marks myself, until I got my super Hallmark and Maker Marks book that, I have of course, packed away! Good Luck!
800 Swiss marks represent a finer Silver than the American coin. Not all marks are the same.
800 Swiss is not the same as 800 American or English.
Boy, they are all like that, and it's confusing.
Thanks, Sheila, that's where I found the weird turkey bird. I think the unmarked case may be a finer quality of silver, maybe 0.925 or better.
Try this Date helper. It's not the one I'm looking for to help with this, but may help some.
If you can, post a picture of the marks OK?
Here is a picture of the hallmark. It's so indistinct that I can't see what it is even with a high-power loupe and other magnification. The first element looks like a stylized fir tree or teepee and the other parts are impossibe to decipher.
Hi John & Sheila,
Without seeing an image of the hallmark on the watch, it's difficult to positively ID it.
There are 3x variants of the 'Turkey' hallmark on your watch, however, and all of them are for Switzerland.
Which one you have depends upon the age and size of product upon which it was stamped, but all 3x indicate 800/1000 Silver grade.(.800)
The first style used was for the period 1882 - 1892 and indicates a purity of silver of .800 ('800/1000').
The 'bird' appears to have its 'tail high' and 'head low'.
The other pair were used from 1893 - 1934 and, which style used, depended upon the size of the item to be stamped, simply put, one bird was bigger than the other, so you may find both examples of this type on your watch case if the years fit.
This Hallmark too, indicates a Silver grade of .800 ('800/1000').
Both 'birds' are similar to each other but 'slimmed' down' on one 'stamp' for the use on smaller items.
I did read somewhere what the 'bird' was supposed to represent, but damned if I can remember. Guinee Fowl comes to mind but not sure. It may even be a Peacock, (but quite unlike any I've ever seen)!
Ok Sheila, I'll try explain the situation as I understand it, and hope the following will help demystify for you a little, silver purity hallmarks. (assuming you're still awake at the end)
As regards the grading of Silver, it can safely be assumed that "Historically" the grade shown in a hallmark Outside the USA, and particularly within Europe,(.800, .925, .935 etc) 'Legally' indicates how many "parts per thousand" of pure silver is contained in that product, the rest is made up of the metal the silver is alloyed with (usually copper).
There are historical notes upon how the method of assessing purity developed, but far too long to write here. Suffice to say that they are standards imposed in law.
It is extremely unlikely you will find pure silver (1000/1000) being used on everyday items such as watch cases, it's simply too soft.
Pure Silver has to be alloyed to increase its 'wearability', and it's the addition of copper and other metals that reduce the grade from 1000 (pure) to 'say' .925, which would indicate that the alloy content is .075/1000.
The highest grade I've ever seen on a watch case though is .935 (935/1000) which is somewhere between 'Sterling' and 'Britannia' grade.
If a Swiss, French, German, Canadian, UK, Egyptian or even Japanese silver item is graded at .800, then that grade Will Be .800/1000. The purity will have been set down by the assay office of the country that hallmarked it and will (Should) be equivalent to that used by any other country where that purity convention is used. In other words, standardised.
Where things may differ though, is with the USA, as "historically", it seems no such assay conventions existed until 'relatively' recently.
(UK hallmarks by comparison go back to Henry II in the 12th Century).
I've no idea 'historically' what American 'Coin Silver' is in terms of actual purity per 1000 parts, but I'm sure someone here will know,.800 seems to be the consensus of opinion.
However, "early" American silver may not correspond to any grading convention used in Europe or other countries which used the 1000/1000 purity 'benchmark'. So, a European item stamped .800, may not have the same purity standard as an American item of the same era, simply because the American item wouldn't be assayed under similar rules.
However, a Swiss .800 Silver item will be the same grade as a UK .800 Silver item.
If I may quote an extract from one of my reference books regarding American Silver production, it may clarify things a little, as things were very different to what was practiced elsewhere in the world.
The book is 'Guide to Silver Marks of the World' by Jan Divis.
"Government bodies, whether Colonial, Federal or of the Individual States, Never had any control over the craftsmen and never stipulated purity standards for the use of precious metals.
Not even date letters for the items were required. Nontheless, the cities of New York and Boston had their Societies or Guilds (smilar to the European Guilds) in which the Silversmiths themselves set the standards for their own craft.
Most likely other cities of the United States too, had similar organisations of silversmiths. In Baltimore in fact,an assay office was set up for precious metals, supervised by elected silverwmiths.
The marks on American Historical silver are mainly those of the makers, consisting either of a monogram or the silversmith's full name.
Sometimes this mark is complemented with the name of the place where the maker worked, or a numeral indicating the purity of the precious metal employed.
Since no date letter was required, an item can be dated precisely only by analysing the decoration on it, or by a stylistic appraisal of the entire piece.
Silver items produced in modern times, must have the maker's mark and the number of purity, indicating the purity of the metal with a tolerance of 004/1000. The mark 'Sterling' or 'Sterling Silver' indicates a purity of 925/1000.
When analysing American silver, it is essential to ascertain precisely and carefully the maker's mark, which in this instance, is the sole reliable indicator, since in many cases, English or Irish products were passed off as American work following removal of official marks."
Unfortunately, no dates are quoted so I've no idea what the periods are covered in the quote, or what constitutes 'Modern Times'.
If you can find out when the USA started using Hallmarks to grade the purity of Silver, that is likely when the USA will have fallen into parity or 'Standardisation' with other parts of the world in using the same 1000/1000 purity benchmark.
However, I am looking at the 'historical' situation, hallmark values should now be the same the world over.
There is an American bibliography quoted, which the author used for the research if anyone would like it.
Apologies for the length of the reply, but hope this helps some.
I think the name of the bird is Grouse. I'm not sure if I remember that correctly but it's what keeps popping up in my brain.
I had a hard time with marks in the same place, but I did find that there was ONE spacific way to look at it under a light that made it show up perfectly, but I still couldn't take a picture of it.
Great information. I do understand the silver situation, it's just hard to explain because of the multiple rules and numbers according to where they are coming from.
American Coin Silver is actually very high in silver content. It's 90% silver and sterling is 92.5% silver not much difference.
Most think Coin is lower, however little of the coin made was lower than 90%. Not sterling, but certainly not a low grade as some believe.
I have been researching the entire American "Marks" issue for some time now, and that's even more complicated.
This issue actuall goes way back, even before the imports law of April 21, 1870 and was really about the Fake Names issue on watches that was going on at the time, however the metal content issue was in the works even then.
A lot of watch case makers were involved in the creation of what is law today.
Anyway, John A, you have a nice Omega case there and I would just enjoy it!!!
Thanks for the help.
This is the date finder from the above link.
My sincere apologies for misinterpreting your message, and many thanks for posting the date charts.
The big problem I find with UK hallmarking particularly, isn't the purity numbers as they're pretty much taken at face value, it's in dating them from the incredible numbers and styles of case makers marks, assay office date letters and 'Crown' marks that screw things up.
They're often so similar too, that with wear on them, it's almost impossible to distinguish one maker's mark from another.
As you say, very complicated.
No apologies needed, you gave some great information here, and that's what counts.
Notice that even the chart is difficult to understand and you need the instructions from the page to find the date!!!!
There's always something you have to do 1st, 2nd, and 3rd before you even do a REAL START....
And we thought we were making life easier....
I don't know what kind of magnifiers they used back then, but the ones today at 10X still can't show me a simple makers mark so that I can tell what it is.
Oh the trials and tribulations of collecting lolol
I came across this website today which may be useful to you and other forum members (if you don't use it already that is)
Posted it as a continuation of this thread as it's probably more appropriate here.
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