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Therefore, by debasing silver or gold, the offender was undermining the coin of the realm.

A treasonable offence in times when treason was punished by death.

The hallmarking of Irish silver began towards the middle of the 17th century.

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Since 1821, the uncrowned leopard’s head has remained as the distinguishing mark of London.Scottish hallmarks have been regulated by statute since 1457 but the earliest known example dates only from 1556 to 1557.The Incorporation of Goldsmiths of the City of Edinburgh was thought to be in the 1490’s and the earliest surviving records date from 1525.If they offended again, a limb would be hacked off and, until the 1720’s, the death penalty was the usual sentence meted out to persistent offenders.There was a simple reason for this seemingly Draconian behaviour in that the manufacture of silver and gold was allied to the minting of currency.

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