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Hallmarking when selling to Europe


Hi all,

A few quick questions regarding hallmarking when selling to Europe
from the UK.

I am an amateur maker of very small numbers of silver French horn
mouthpieces which a few people in Europe have expressed an interest
in buying. I am considering selling by word-of-mouth and perhaps
also by Ebay - using Paypal for any transactions. Potentially the
mouthpieces could go to any country in Europe or perhaps the USA.

I have signed up with the London Assay Office and I’m about to send
my first batch of mouthpieces to be hallmarked. It isn’t actually a
legal requirement here as musical instrument parts are exempt from
hallmarking, but as mymouthpieces are copies of antiques I wanted to
reduce a very real potential for fraud.

I was initially going to ask for just the UK hallmarks - as I don’t
like the duplication of having 925 stamped on both for the UK
hallmark and for the convention hallmark. I also wanted to limit the
clutter of having lots of stamps over the mouthpieces. However, I
then started to wonder whether I would be causing trouble by not
using the convention hallmark - either trouble for myself, or
trouble for European buyers if they wished to sell the mouthpieces
on in the future.

My understanding is that within Europe, hallmarking laws have been
relaxed considerably due to a ruling in Holland whereby member
states now have to recognise each other’s hallmarks, even when less
stringent than their own. I also believe that if I sell a mouthpiece
made and hallmarked in Britain to a buyer in (for example) France,
via Ebay, then British law oversees the sale? I realise I will have
to declare any sales to the taxman!

Is my understanding correct, and is there anything else that I
should be aware of prior to selling any mouthpieces?

I have looked for good articles on these issues (as I always do
before posting a question) however didn’t find much. If anybody
knows of some good guides, I’d be very grateful for a link.

Many thanks,
Kit Wolf


Kit, contacting your assay office is essential in this sort of
situation. I’ll give you an outline of the situation as I understand
it, but don’t base your business plans on anything I say, for god’s
sake!The UK has a very strict system, so not all countries have
systems that are interoperable with British hallmarking. For example,
in Italy, the manufacturer applies their own stamps, and these items
would need re-marking when they enter the UK. There are various
signatories to something called the International Convention - these
countries apply a Convention mark, which is acceptable in the UK. In
the same way, your assay office can mark with Convention symbols
instead of the British symbols. This is probably the best option, as
the items are then saleable in the UK and any other signatory
countries. There are some European countries, and also some others,
like Israel. But not all European countries are signatories, so
beware.Another thing that might help you is the Houtwipper Compliance
ruling. What you said in your original message is incorrect, however
Houtwipper only applies to countries within the EU that have
equivalent hallmarking systems. As the UK is very strict, this
obviously limits the use of the ruling when importing goods to the
UK, but might actually help you if you are exporting, as few
countries will be able to claim that our system is less reliable than

The defining feature of the UK system is that is allows NO negative
tolerance. If an item is found to have 749 parts per thousand of
gold, it will not be hallmarked as 18ct. The Houtwipper ruling is not
as broadly relevant as you might imagine it to be, as most countries
with equivalent hallmarks are already signatories to the
International Convention. The Houtwipper list is quite small. What
you will need to do is contact each non-convention, non-houtwipper
country, and as them if they accept convention marks or UK
hallmarks. With those that don’t accept either, you will have no
choice but to get the items marked locally. If you are lucky, most of
them will have a laser-marking option that doesn’t require
re-finishing of the item. If they only offer physical stamping, then
you will be required to have them re-finished, either by shipping
them back to the UK and back out, or by finding a contractor in the
relevant country to do it for you. Neither option is ideal.As I said
earlier, contact your assay office for advice, and don’t make
assumptions about the countries you are shipping to - some of them
may be protectionist or nationalist about luxury trade goods, and you
will only find that out by asking them directly.

Jamie Hall



please contact me off list for some specific advise about hallmarking
and the european markets you want to target that i haven’t gort time
to go into right now- as it will take more than a couple of minutes
to discuss! I have dealt with the UK for many many years and have
lots of things to say on the topic- like registering your trademark
is more all encompassing than an assay mark despite your copies of
antiques… . For one thing you have a highly specialised product
that should be sold through musicians supplies not ebay! And though
social media is not for me per se, I urge you to make a facebook page
with a brand name ( even if it’s "Kit Wolf- Maker of Specialised
Precious Metal Mouthpieces for Antique and Modern French Horns) that
utilises the free ad credits and SEO you can use to appear on
searches for say Merker, or Holton Merker French Horns, as well as
for buyers searching for antique instruments) and concurrently,,, etc. for which
the $25 50$ (US) credits are only tallyed when someone clicks on the
link to your site or you offer a coupon or incentive on your facebook
page wherein the potential client likes your page to get a free
consultation or discount.( use targeted marketing for all university
and professional orchestras which can be done nicely but very cheaply
using services like vistaprint and avoiding professional designers
that sell you useless laser etched highly visible cards that
accomplish no maore than an oversized brightly coloured postcard sent
to the potential buyer or department!)… You must have a trademark
that is either etched or stamped and perhaps even serial numbers that
identify your products if you don’t already…again time is not mine
at the moment and there is alot to discuss… You are onto something
that could be quite big in terms of ROI/sales and your own brand
identity! I will be hapy to correspond with you later…if necesary I
think I have a lot to say on the subject…and if ebay is your choice
then its worth a listing ( but you pay alot even if nothing is sold
(unless you have a store or list on a special offer) and in selling
you must consider where you will find the most buyers to rationalise
the fees for advertising when no sales may result ( ebay is a classic
example of someone having one thing to sell ( not meaning many of one
item or models for various sizes of tapered neckpieces to get the
most out of the bell’s resonance as with French horns)…anyway there
is alot to talk about…rere