ASCAS Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver ASSOCIATION OF SMALL COLLECTORS OF ANTIQUE SILVER
ASCAS
article # 134
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by Christine Erratt  
(click on photos to enlarge image)

MARKS ON AUSTRALIAN SILVER

There is no register of the makersí marks applied to silverware in Australia as Australia does not have a hallmarking system.

When the idea came to me in 2002 to document the makersí marks of contemporary Australian silversmiths, little did I realise what an exciting project I was embarking on. Now, eight years later, my book, Marks on Australian Silver 1950-2005, is published. ISBN 978 0 646 52327 9
Marks of Australian silver: a book by Christine Erratt
The fifty five years covered in this book saw an era of great change in Australia. A few manufacturing companies, which had managed to survive the Great Depression and the Second World War, were essentially the sole silverware producers during the 1950s. Slowly education of silversmiths changed from trade apprenticeships to the domain of the art schools and design schools. The era of the studio silversmith evolved.

There are close to 600 marks recorded photographically in the book. These represent the marks of 315 makers and retailers. The vast majority are individual craftsmen; some are retailers; and a few are manufacturing companies.

With the freedom of no mandatory marking system, Australian silversmiths have been able to decide if they wished to mark their work and to design their own makersí marks. Most use their initials or full names, with or without secondary marks. Secondary marks often indicate the home town or State of the silversmith. Some silversmiths only use symbols. In a country of unique fauna it is not surprising to find some represented as makersí marks, such as the kangaroo, the emu, the platypus and even the dingoís paw print.
I documented all the marks photographically. This was quite a challenge in itself. Silversmiths were asked to supply me with samples of their makersí marks on pieces of metal. Some samples were as narrow as 2mm (one thirteenth of an inch). At the opposite end of the scale was a brass plate 126mm square (nearly 5 inches square) supplied by a manufacturing company with all its own marks as well as its retail customersí marks.

After several years of research, I decided that appropriate information about the makers would be an inclusion in the book which would significantly benefit the reader. This has added 150 pages to the book and turned out to be very worthwhile.

I have also included sixteen pages of colour plates and four pages of black and white images with a total of 60 beautiful silverware objects. One of the B&W pages is a series of images showing the stages of hand raising two beakers from the original flat silver discs.

A glossary of terms is included, as is a recommended reading list and an index.

I trust this book will be useful and interesting for many, not only now but also well into the future as contemporary silverware objects of today become the heirloom treasures of tomorrow.

In the Foreword, Emeritus Professor Ray Stebbins, the inaugural Professor of Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT University, Melbourne states: For the foreseeable future this invaluable compilation of Australian marks on silver will serve as the principal identification resource for connoisseurs, academics, curators and students.
Christine Erratt
- 2010 -
Christine Erratt, member of ASCAS since 2004, is the author of Marks on Australian Silver and self-published the books under the Australian business name of Parker Press (ABN 15 192 003 086).
The book can be purchased online at www.parkerpressbooks.com.au and is offered to ASCAS members at the discount price of AUD$90 (normal price $AUD120) plus postage and handling (quote your ASCAS membership).