I keep bumping into a few overlapping ideas or concepts and thought we might look a little closer 🙂
hallmarks, makers marks and trademarks and patents, so here goes some unravelling….
Registered trademarks are personal cloices of some sort of image design ( symmbol ) or name etc. that the manufacturer makes and some how puts on their product.( For metal it was stamped, back in the day. ) Be it a product, a sign, a metal item — whatever. The point being they registered it with an authority and people recognized it.as theirs, hopefully a catchy symbol or name.
Makers marks are in all reality whatever amounts to what a trademark does. Pretty much the same thing. However Ii is used in the hallmark scheme. Small and in line with the other marks.
Patents refer to the design characteristics or the actual invention. No symbols at all involved here. Even plants can be patented !!!
Lastly we come to Hallmarks. Now here we have some history. Also some rules. Different countries, different rules too.
First consider that when precious metals are used ( let's use silver for our discussion ) There needs to be some aggreement by all that what is said is silver — is actually silver right !!! And the proper purity. Probably not good to have the fella selling it verify it too !!! Kind of a conflict of interests. However perhaps they are a reputable silversmith or company and then they could. The hallmark amounts to his reputation, repeat sales and his location. Kind of a signed guarantee on each item.
Second there needs to be some agreed upon or accepted marking scheme that tells who made it, dates, regions and basically a traveling pedigree that goes along with the item — say a whistle for instance 🙂
How do we apply this info, which is brief to say the least, to whistles ?? One thing is that for nickle plated brass, brass, copper, steel, pewter, brittania, tin and what amounts to all other non-precious metals you won't find hallmarks. Although you might find makers marks or symbols, names — even registered at times. Simple enough I suppose.
Now we rarely see gold whistles, but do see silver ones a lot. ( Newer ones have the .925 stamp of purity is all ) Although sketchy on teethers rattles and such, many silver whistles come with hallmarks and this is terrific when it comes to identifying the makers and dating them. Albeit they will usually be silversmiths and not specifically whistle manufacturers. To be sure sometimes makers like Hudson did specifically make silver hallmarked models.
So, there you have it. Or at least a chunk of it…. check out the hallmark link for fun in our new Links section. Perhaps we can add some more countries soon.