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Until the 18th century, the silversmith's work was only fashioned from precious metals, gold and silver. In order to guarantee the quality of this metal, namely its alloy, a system of hallmarks and stamps were set up by the French State. Goldsmiths' hallmarks change with the quality of the metal, company name and time period.
Gold and silver products have at least two hallmarks: the state hallmark, or Guarantee, and the manufacturer's hallmark. These two hallmarks are mandatory in France to mark any silver article weighing more than 30 grams and any gold article weighing more than 3 grams.
Since 1838, the Silver Guarantee hallmark has been a head of Minerva. There are two of them. The large Minerva is titled as .925 and the small Minerva is titled at .800.
Since 1919, the Gold Guarantee hallmark has been an eagle's head. Goldsmiths and jewelers use the third grade, which guarantees an alloy of .750 (75% pure gold).
The Silvermith's Mark
This stamp is specific to each silversmith. It includes the silversmith's initials and a symbol chosen by him framed in a rhombus.
The first maker's mark Christofle was registered with the Garantie de Paris in 1832. It was a rifle bayonet and the letters CC. In 1853, the new hallmark registered by the Maison was sesigned with a bee hovering under 3 stars framed by the two Cs that stood for Christofle & Cie. The txo Cs would later be replaced by "OC" meaning "Orfèvrerie Christofle".
For vermeil, the maker's mark is accompanied by a V.
France has standardized the quality hallmarks since 1983. They relate to articles in silver and gold and guarantee the density of the metals deposited onto the alloy. The quality hallmark is square with the indication of the quality in Roman numerals: I or II. The symbol and initials are specific to each silversmith or goldsmith.
Since its founding, the main hallmarks of Maison Christofle have evolved.
The balance stamp, the silversmith's hallmark, was used by Maison Christofle from 1844 to 1935. Since 1935, the manufacturer's mark has been represented by an illustration of the knight from Chess surrounded by the initials "OC".
Throughout its history, to identify particular collections, Maison Christofle has used other hallmarks, including a rooster, for the Gallia collection and a cat's head, for silver and gilded pieces.
The Vintage Hallmark
This hallmark is specific to Maison Christofle. It is only affixed onto Haute Orfèvrerie articles and indicates the year of manufacture.
It is illustrated with a diamond with the letter B, which represents the 20th century, and C for the 21st century. Additionally, the stamp is surrounded by two numbers indicating the year.
Today, Christofle's hallmarks continue to shine on in the world of silversmithery with its know-how and uniquely designed pieces.