A mark put on an article to indicate origin, purity, or genuineness. It is usually found on an object's underside. Or a distinguishing characteristic, trait, or feature.Centuries ago, King Edward I of England decreed that gold and silver had to be tested and approved by master craftsmen before being sold. If tested items met the quality standards of the guild hall's masters, they would be stamped with the mark of the hall -- the special seal of approval of that assay office. These laws have been vigorously enforced, especially since the beginning of the18th century, making it possible to analyze legible marks on British gold and silver to identify its degree of fineness (purity), where and when it was presented for assay, who was responsible for it's manufacture (the maker's mark effectively the artisan's monogram or signature or a company logo), and if a duty was paid. The principal assay office has always been Goldsmith's Hall in London, but goods might also be presented at the provincial assay offices of Birmingham, Chester, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Newcastle, Norwich, or Sheffield, each with its own distinctive town or "hall" mark.At first, English speakers reserved the word "hallmark" for that mark of excellence from official assay offices, but over the years the word has come to name any sign of outstanding talent, creativity, or excellence.(pr. HAWL-mark)Examples: Hallmarks or stamped company monograms used by William Spratling (American, Texas), stamped on silver he produced between 1931 and 1940. A page about these and other Sprattling hallmarks.Related link: Index of Initial Marks is a collection of initial marks of American silversmiths. The Online Encyclopedia of American Silver Marks. Silver Mine has a collection of British silver marks. Hallmarks on the Internet has links to other sites with international hallmarks for gold and silver. Set Your Table