ASCAS Association of Small Collectors of Antique Silver


article # 229
by Katherine Palthey
(click on photos to enlarge image)


Vintage silver jewelry has become very collectable today and if examined closely can help us identify its origins. In France, the hallmarks on silver jewelry are punched in very specific places. For example, French silver bracelets are hallmarked on the locks, plaques and any plaques in between. In our case, this vintage silver and Jade bracelet shows both French and German hallmarks. Examining these hallmarks near and on the clasp help tell us more of its interesting origin.

Bateman family tree
Bateman family tree
Vintage silver 835 jade bracelet

This vintage 835 silver and Jade (Nephrite) bracelet dates to the 1950's-1960's. Composed of five square cabochons in nephrite jade, it is finished with a slip hook and eye clasp and a security chain. Each jade cabochon is enclosed with wide silver bands and the five stones are connected with a clear line modernistic style. The nephrite jade is deep spinach colored green with tiny black graphite inclusions.

There are 5 hallmarks: three French and two German

Three French Hallmarks:
(1) The Weevil hallmark in a rectangle:
French hallmark used between 1893 and 1984 for imported silver articles with a minimum fineness of at least .800. This law, however, was applied only with certain contracting countries, and Germany was not one of the contracting countries. It wasn't until 1971 that this Weevil hallmark was punched on all imported silver articles - regardless of its original country. This means that with these hallmarks, this bracelet was imported from Germany to Paris between 1971 and 1984 (The German manufacturer date is earlier than 1971).
Further examination shows TWO successive Weevil marks: both weevils are facing the same direction. In France depending on the length of the silver bracelet, the position of the weevils' hallmarks on the eye ring is different: in our case, this silver bracelet measures between 5 and 20 cm (16,5 cm): so the weevils are facing the same direction. If the jewelry piece was longer, the weevils would be either nose to nose (20 to 40 cm) or back to back (40 to 60 cm). Underneath the weevils stomach, we notice another miniscule symbol in the form of a "V" : this is the symbol of the French Assay Office where the silver standards were guaranteed by the French authorities. This "V" symbol represents the Annemasse Import services where the silver bracelet entered the French territory.
French Weevils Hallmarks
French Weevils Hallmarks

(2) The Bigornes "Beak Irons" hallmark:
French hallmark which is actually a countermark on the opposite side of the hallmark; In our case- opposite the weevil hallmark on the eye part of the clasp. These Beak Iron countermarks were introduced in 1838, and show either the profile of insects (silvers made in Paris) or the top view of insects (silvers made in the French Provinces-outside Paris). Both these hallmarks are important in authenticating French silver jewelry. In our bracelet here, the beak irons are top view, so this silver bracelet was imported into one of Frances Provinces after 1971. (By identifying the Weevil hallmark previously, we can observe that this bracelet passed through the Province of Annemasse). The hallmark was struck on the eye part of the clasp because there already exist other hallmarks on the clasps' hook part. Although extremely difficult to see, this beakiron countermark resembles the Dragonfly insect from the small beakirons rounded horn (the bracelets' eye hook is in fact rounded, so the countermark may have been easier with a rounded horn anvil). On the nonused part surrounding the dragonfly, the countermark includes tiny dots as well. These may have resulted during the punching process, because the dots serve as a support to very thin articles.
French Weevils with 'V' symbols
French Weevils with "V" symbols

French Weevil hallmark: 1893 to 1984 Imports (close-up Tardy)
French Weevil hallmark: 1893 to 1984 Imports (close-up Tardy)

Standards Guarantee Symbol: Annemasse (underneath Weevil)
Standards Guarantee Symbol: Annemasse (underneath Weevil)

French Beak Iron Countermarks
French "Beak Iron" Countermarks

Dragonfly Countermark (close-up Tardy)
Dragonfly Countermark (close-up Tardy)

(3) C.S. initials surrounding a fish in an oval hallmark:
The oval hallmark represents a responsibility mark put on silver articles that were imported into France; and in particular the initials of the first dealer offering the article for sale. These initials may correspond to the Paris silversmith Canivé & Sbaldi, insculpté since 1907: their makers marks is C.S. with a fish in between the initials.
French Import Responsibility Mark
French Import Responsibility Mark

Two German Hallmarks::
My research has shown other similar pieces with these exact same hallmarks, but I have not found the typical moon and crown German mark struck by this maker. Please feel free to comment!

(4) 835 Hallmark: for 835/1000 silver
(5) Fish Hallmark:
This fish shaped hallmark was used by the Fischlandschmuck Company. This was part of the original Georg Kramer Company; producing de Real Fischland jewelry in Ribnitz Damgarten Germany. Founded in 1771 it was renamed in 1939 to Fischland GmbH. This silversmith based his vintage designs on various maritime motifs such as fish, whale and starfish. The village of Ribnitz Damgarten was an old fishing village, and it inspired a lot of their creative silver pieces. This silver maker produced modernistic silver jewelry in the 1950's and 1960's and used most often Amber gemstones with silver.
German hallmarks 835 and Fish
German hallmarks 835 and Fish

This bracelet is an interesting piece because it has Nephrite Jade gemstones rather than the traditional amber gemstones seen in other silver Fischland pieces. Jade includes both Jadeite and Nephrite minerals. Nephrite in Greek means "kidney stone" as Nephrite Jade was once believed to be a cure for kidney stones. Nephrite jade has been a very important part of the Chinese culture and has been cherished for almost 6000 years! Wearing Jade such as this bracelet is more than just a piece of silver-it holds significant symbolic meaning as well. The Chinese culture believes it brings protection, health and longevity to the wearer. Just as Amber is symbolic of protection, Jade has the same meanings to certain cultures. This silversmith successfully used both his talents and knowledge for special healing gemstones to produce his collections.

Five Hallmarks on clasp
Five Hallmarks on clasp


Tardy, "International Hallmarks on Silver", rue Milton, 75009 Paris, 1985
Newmann, Renée, "Exotic Gems, Volume 4", International Jewelry Publications, 2016
"Dictionnaire des Poinçons Orfèvrerie", Imprimerie Henri Beux, Lausanne Suisse, 1992
Crowe, Judith, "The Jewelers Directory of Gemstones", Firefly Books Ltd, Buffalo New York, 2002
"Jade des Emperereurs à L'Art Deco", Huet-Chung Tsao, Somogy Editions d'Art, Paris, 2016
Partimoine & Architecture ; ; Inventaire général du patrimoine cultural : orfevres
ETSY. com and : researching German Company hallmarks

Katherine Palthey
- 2018 -