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What Is Maltese Silver?

The national assay office within Malta controls the testing of precious metal items, and mark them of the purity.

History of Maltese Silver

Unlike many other European countries, the Maltese hallmarking system is organised on a voluntary basis. The first silver hallmarking regulations were introduced in 1636 by the military order of Knights Hospitaller. The island of Malta fell under French occupation in the late 18th century, later becoming a British colony; the country did not however adopt the full British or French hallmarking systems. By the 20th century Malta obtained Self Government, independence and became a republic in 1974.

Maltese Silver Hallmarks

From 1857 the Maltese national mark for silver was a cross symbol (known as a Maltese cross), which also shared historical connections to the founding hallmarking regulators as the insignia of the Knights Hospitaller. In the 20th century the hallmarks were adapted to include numerals for the purity of the metal and maker’s initials.

Prior to this the purity hallmark was represented by a letter for one of the three acceptable standards: 11.5 deniers – French fineness (marked F), 11 deniers – Roman fineness (marked R), 10.5 deniers – Maltese fineness (marked M). These were often surmounted with a crown from 1797 to represent the death of Emmanuel de Rohan, however this was discontinued once the country was invaded by the French in 1798 and the Order of Saint John was expelled from the island. During this short period of invasion, an open palmed left hand and cock were added to the initials to complete the hallmarks.

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