Britannia standard silver was introduced as part of the great recoinage scheme of William III in 1697 and it lasted until 1720. This was done to prevent British sterling coins from being melted. Unlike sterling silver which is made of 92.5% silver, Britannia silver is composed of at least 95.84% pure silver. The lion passant hallmark denoting sterling was replaced with “the figure of a woman commonly called Britannia” and the leopard’s head mark was replaced with a “lion’s head erased”. The Britannia standard has actually never been abolished, and remained in use after 1720 as a voluntary alternative option to the sterling standard. Since the hallmarking changes in England in January 1999, Britannia silver is now denoted with the hallmark (958) which is the optional use of the ‘Britannia’ icon.
An exceptional, fine and impressive Antique George I English Britannia Standard Silver Cup and Cover. It features strap work design which is located on the body and the cover. There is a wonderful crest centered near the top of the body and it is engraved with the arms of a baronet flanked by winged demi-figures holding swags of husks. This piece has two impressive S scroll handles which helps add to the weight of the piece. The underside of the cup is embellished with the bright cut initials ‘EC’ which surrounds a star motif. Full hallmarks are stamped on the side of the cup near one of the handles. The maker’s mark and the lion’s head erased is stamped on the inner rim of the cover. The hallmarks are quite clear on both the body and the cover due to the exceptional amount of silver used in this piece. There are natural fire marks to the surface of both the cup and cover which is in keeping with the age of the piece. This striking Antique George I English Silver Cup and Cover is an exceptional example of Britannia silver. It has wonderful workmanship, is quite heavy (weighing 52 ounces) and is truly quite special!