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Each of the major cities had a Goldsmith’s Hall where the local tradesmen would take their gold and silver wares to be inspected.

There, the pieces would be inspected for quality and stamped with a city stamp to show that they had passed inspection.

I, like many other people throughout the world, enjoy collecting silver over gold not only because of the considerable difference in cost, but it can be found in so many different forms.

I have seen sterling silver in coins, flatware, jewelry, tea sets, platters, trophies, lamps, candelabras, statues, drinking cups, baby rattles, knife rests, and on and on and on!

Though silver was mined as far back as 4000 BC, the sterling alloy likely originated in continental Europe and was used for commerce as early as the 12th century in what is now northern Germany!

Nobody is certain where the term ‘sterling’ comes from, but it may have derived from a new 13th century Norman silver coin “librae sterilensium” or “librae sterilensis monetae”.

The British Isles probably led the way with a series of marks that can be traced back to the 1300’s!Georg Jensen Ice Tongs, Acorn Pattern: Founded in 1904 in Copenhagen, Denmark, pattern introduced in 1915, this particular mark was first used in 1945. This mark is from the bottom of a very ornate dish. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention sterling jewelry made in Mexico.Lucky for me, there was another mark on the other end of the bottom of this dish, Gorham. Jewelry designers really started making their “mark” during the 1930’s and continued through the 1970’s.More likely, the term comes from the Old English “steorling” which means ‘coin with a star’, which the old Norman coins had.Most of the world’s silver was mined in Asia Minor and the Greek Isles until major concentrations of silver were found after the discovery and exploration of the ‘New World’ in the 15th and 16th centuries.

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