The Hungerford Historical Association were this month given a fascinating talk by local man, George Styles, entitled ‘Antique to Contemporary Silverware’. George runs Styles Silver on Bridge Street in Hungerford, having learned the trade from his parents.
Decorative silver has been used since Greek and Roman times, but probably not until about 8/900 AD in Britain, silverware from before 1478 is rare and difficult to date because Hallmarks had not yet been introduced and the intrinsic value of silver meant that objects were often melted down for money. Silver is quite a soft metal so it is always combined with another metal for hardness, but since hallmarking was introduced , in 1478, any item classed as silver has to have at least 925 parts silver out of 1000 and this is known as the Sterling Standard.
Hallmarks tell us that an objects meets the Sterling Standard, where it was made, in which year and who made it. It is actually illegal to sell silverware without a hallmark in this country.
George used candlesticks as an example to show how manufacturing methods have changed with time, with some excellent examples from Styles Silver. The talk finished with a spoon identification quiz and questions from the audience.
The next talk is entitled “A history of the Berkshire Yeomanry & the Regiment’s connections with Hungerford” by Brigadier Anthony Verey QVRM TD DL & Captain Andrew French, and is on the 27th April at 7.30pm at The Corn Exchange, Hungerford.