Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks
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William Weston ~ 1821

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The Trial of William Weston, Master Silversmith
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Crime of Hallmark Forgery - "Duty Dodging"
The Old Bailey ~ London ~ 24th February, 1821
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William Weston was indicted for that he on the 9th of August, feloniously did sell six silver spoons, having the impression of a forged and counterfeit mark, resembling a certain mark used in pursuance of certain Acts of Parliament, he well knowing the said impression to be forged and counterfeit, with intent to defraud his Majesty of the duty payable thereon.


William Weston Maker's Mark with Hallmarks

TESTIMONY

MESSRS. WALFORD and NORTON conducted the prosecution.


JOHN PRICE - I am apprentice to Mr. Upjohn, watchmaker, St. John-square, Clerkenwell. In August last I went to the prisoner, and personally gave him an order for one dozen teaspoons for Mr. Upjohn. He brought them home - I received them from his hands, and paid him 1 £. 1 s. 2 d. for the duty and fashion, and gave him old silver for the weight. I unpacked the spoons, weighed them, and delivered them to Thomas Mendham, servant to Mr. King, who had ordered them of us - I delivered them at King's shop in St. John-street.

Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. Q - When did you receive them?

JOHN PRICE - On the 31st of August, Mr. Thomas Upjohn and Mr. Whittingham were present when he brought them. I did not open them directly, but put them in the desk, which I locked, and gave Mr. Whittingham the key; I got it from him next day and took them out myself, unpacked and weighed them, then sealed them up and delivered them to Mendham at Mr. King's. I put no mark on them.

Mr. NORTON. Q - Did they come to you in a parcel?

JOHN PRICE - Yes, and were in the same parcel tied up when I delivered them at Mr. King's. They were in the same parcel, and tied in the same manner when I took them from the desk. The prisoner brought this bill with them. (Producing it.)

Q - Look at these spoons.

JOHN PRICE - They were a dozen like these; I cannot say these are the same. I noticed W. W. on them at the time. It is a common pattern.

COURT. Q - When you opened the parcel the next day, did it appear precisely in the same state as when he delivered it into your hands?

JOHN PRICE - Yes; it had not been opened.

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THOMAS MENDHAM - I was in Mr. King's service at this time. He is a linen-draper, and lives in St. John-street; I remember Price bringing me a parcel, which I immediately delivered to Miss Williams. in the state in which I received it; I did not see its contents - about two or three days after, I took a teaspoon, similar to those produced, to Goldsmith's-hall, and delivered it to Mr. Barrow.

Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. Q - Did you mark it?

THOMAS MENDHAM - No; I gave him the same which Mr. King gave me.

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ELIZA WILLIAMS - I am shopwoman to Mr. King. In August last, Mendham gave me a parcel which I took up stairs to Mrs. King immediately, without opening it - I gave it into her hands, I believe somebody was with her.

Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q - Did you deliver more than one parcel to her?

ELIZA WILLIAMS - No.

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MARTHA KING - I am the wife of Mr. King. In August last, I received a parcel from Miss Williams, which I opened; it contained tea spoons - I did not count them, but gave them to somebody who placed them on the mantle-piece in our sleeping-room - they were left there loose in the paper; I remember Mr. King seeing them in the room afterwards; I do not know what part of the room they were in then (the nurse slept there) - I believe he saw the same spoons, I never used them, I had others in the house, but they were very different in make and shape, these are fiddle-handles, those produced are like them in shape.

Cross-examined by MR. LAW. Q - Who did you give the parcel to?

MARTHA KING - I believe to the nurse, but really cannot say - they were put on the shelf, and, I believe, afterwards in a drawer.

MR. NORTON. Q - When Mr. King saw them, were they in the same paper?

MARTHA KING -Yes; it was untied, I did not leave the room before he saw them - no other parcel of spoons was brought to me.

FREDERICK KING - I am a linen-draper, and live in St. John-street. I gave Mr. Upjohn's mother an order for a dozen spoons, about August last, I never gave them any other order. When I came home one evening, I saw them on the dining-room mantle-piece, on the first floor - Mrs. King was present, I did not count them, each spoon was enclosed in silver paper, and brown paper round them; those produced resemble them in appearance and shape.

Q - Is this room always called a dining-room?

FREDERICK KING - They call it a bed-room, the child sleeps in it sometimes.

MARTHA KING - The spoons were put on our bed-room mantle-piece, where I and my husband sleep.

FREDERICK KING - They were not there when I saw them, nor afterwards; I never had any like them - I took them off the mantle-piece, looked at them, thought them charged too high, and gave one to Mendham to take to Goldsmith's-hall, to the deputy-warden - I afterwards took five of them from a box and gave them to Mr. Cook - they were only in silver paper then.

Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q - You saw them in the dining-room?

FREDERICK KING - Yes; I do not know who put them in the box - I did not attend before the Justice; I went to the solicitor for the prosecution, I did not see one Wintle there; I never heard his name before - I sent the spoons to Goldsmith's-hall, as I thought them not good silver.

MARTHA KING - I delivered six of them to Sarah Simcoe, to be sent to Mr. Barrow. I intended only to send five, but not being open, I sent six; the remaining five were put in a small box in the cupboard, I believe I put them there - I saw them in the box, they were in silver paper, but I do not know whether they were in the brown paper. I think the brown paper went to the Hall with the six.

SARAH SIMCOE - I am apprentice to Mrs. King. I do not live there, but only attend in the daytime; on the 6th of September Mrs. King gave me six spoons, which I delivered to Mr. Barrow, at Goldsmith's-hall.

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MR. JOHN BARROW - I am deputy-warden of the Goldsmith's Company. On the 5th of September, I received a teaspoon from Mendham, it is mixed with six others, which I received on the 7th of September from Simcoe, (looks at them) I put the name of King on the bowl of it, but it is rubbed out - I know these to be the same, I consider the stamps on them as not genuine; the Company's engraver can speak to it better than myself, but I believe them to be counterfeit marks; I have been in the assay-office forty-two years.

JOHN COOK - I produce five spoons which I received from King; I have kept them about my person ever since.

MR. JOHN BARROW - The stamps on these are forged.

Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. Q - The stamping is not your department?

MR. JOHN BARROW - No; Every manufacturer puts his initials on the silver. When there are two of the same name, a stamp is made; they are the same initials, but not the same mark.

Q - Suppose William Weston and William Wilson are manufacturers, how will you distinguish between their marks?

MR. JOHN BARROW - If the letters are the same size and shape we cannot, but that rests with the person who enters them.

MR. WALFORD. Q - Has each manufacturer a particular mark to denote his particular initials?

MR. JOHN BARROW - I have seen a great many of the prisoner's manufacture, and have seen no other marked like them. The marks on all his correspond exactly with those now before the Court.

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GEORGE MILES - I am inspector and marker of silver plate at Goldsmith's-hall, and have been so thirteen years. Every manufacturer brings a punch with his initials to the hall, and an impression is taken from it on pewter - it has the initial of the Christian and surname of the manufacturer. The punch is returned to the manufacturer, and an impression taken from it, is kept in charge of the deputy warden, I produce it, that taken from the prisoner punch - the person is dead who took it. The stamp is entered in the Company's book, and signed by the manufacturer at the time, it is taken off, I produce the book; the entry is signed by the prisoner - I have every reason to believe it is his signature, from my knowledge of his writing; the date of the entry is the 18th of September, 1810, and is made by Richard Britain, who is now dead, he also took the impression; this is the Company's book, in which the transaction is entered. I produce a pewter plate with the initials W. W. on it - it corresponds with the entry, and I have the punch, which made the stamp (producing it) the prisoner delivered it to me at his house: he was in the habit of sending plate to the hall to be marked, it always came with this stamp. The spoons are marked with this punch - I have no doubt of it, it has been my business to examine the stamps, for the last thirteen or fourteen years - when they have a new punch, it must be entered a fresh at the hall, and the punch must be different. I find no subsequent entry to this; if plate came with a fresh mark, I should detain it, till the new punch was brought forward - two punches can never be alike. An impression is taken off in the book as well as on pewter - he has used this punch from the date of the entry till now.

Q - When a manufacturer brings an article to the hall, what is done with it?

GEORGE MILES - It is often delivered to me; it is then weighed, and taken to another office, where it is assayed, and if it is the standard, it is delivered to the stamper, who stamps it with the Company's, and the King's mark, which are a Leopard's head, a Lion passant, and a variable letter for the year, the stamp is made, the King's head is the Government stamp, denoting that the duty is paid - all these stamps are made by one punch. John Smith, engraver to the Company, and Government, made the instrument. The plate is brought with the maker's mark on it.

Q - Are articles brought to be stamped, in a rough or polished state?

GEORGE MILES - Rough; they are polished afterwards by the maker.

Q - Examine these seven spoons carefully, are the stamps genuine or not?

GEORGE MILES - I have not the least doubt of there being all forged, and so are those on the five. I speak from my general knowledge of the stamps, it has been my business to inspect them for the last fourteen years.

Q - You and three officers went to the prisoner's house?

GEORGE MILES - Yes; on the 6th of October, it is in King-street, Islington. Armstrong, Jun. was one of the officers - we found the prisoner at home, I went into the back workshop, and found his two sons at work polishing twelve tea spoons, which I took from them - I found four dozen tea spoons, with genuine marks, and three pair of sugar tongs, all with the genuine marks on. I produce the tongs, they have not been bent into shape, the stamps on the tongs appear to have been hammered very much since they left the hall.

Q - Can any person procure the appearance of the legitimate stamp, by hammering on this genuine stamp?

GEORGE MILES - By laying an unstamped piece of plate on in, with a smart stroke, he could get the reverse, and the reverse would be useful to forge a stamp with - it can be done, I have not the least doubt, for I have tried it; I think the sugar tongs bear the appearanceof having been so used - they are not polished; the twelve spoons bear every appearance of having been stamped in that way, an instrument made in that way, would make precisely the same mark as on these - the edges are considerable blunter than if made by the original stamp. I have a real tea spoon stamp. I am confident the marks on the spoons, have not been done with a genuine stamp.

Q - Look at these twelve spoons found in the prisoner's workshop?

GEORGE MILES - The stamps on them are forged, I am certain, and appear to have been made in the way I mention - there is not that impression on them, which there would have been had they been done by the original instrument. They bear the prisoner's initials, marked with his punch. Soft silver would have the same impression as hard.

Q - After the spoons, and tongs were found, did you see the prisoner?

GEORGE MILES - I did, and asked him for his mark punch; he unlocked his counting-house door, and gave me that which I produce - I asked for his books, he said he kept none; I said from information I had received I was confident he must keep books - he made no answer, I said I hoped he would produce them, or I must direct the officers to make further search; he then gave me these books which I have examined.

Q - Look at the 31st of August, and see if you find an entry of this transaction?

GEORGE MILES - Yes. (reads) "31st of August, Upjohn, one dozen of fiddle teas." I have examined the book from the 29th of May, to the 1st of October, it appears that in that interval he sold 914 ounces three pennyweights of plate. On the 28th of June there is an entry of three dozen teas, a pair of sugar tongs, and two fiddled gravy spoons, to John Walter, and on the 8th of June, eighteen fiddled teas, thirty ditto, and twelve ditto salt ladles, and on the 6th of July, there is an entry of a sale to Cassell, of two fiddled sauce ladles, and two French ditto.

Q - Now in these three entries, is there an entry of the duties being paid, on the articles?

GEORGE MILES - On the 6th there is.

Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q - Do you know whether the entries are in his writing?

GEORGE MILES - I cannot positively swear it, but have every reason to believe it - from my knowledge of his writing. If I received a note in that writing, I should act on it as his.

MR. WALFORD. Q - Is there an entry of the duties being paid?

GEORGE MILES - On the 6th of July, there is an entry of the duty being paid, and on the 8th of June, to Peachey's goods, twenty-eight ounces eleven pennyweights 2 £. 2 s. 2 d., and on the 31st of August, Upjohn's duty 11 s. 2 s., on the 28th of June, Walter's thirty-nine ounces fifteen penny-weights, duty 2 £. 19 s. 8 d.

Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q - The person is dead who kept the book where the punch is entered?

GEORGE MILES - Yes. I only know the prisoner's punch mark, by looking at the plate and book - we have a general knowledge of the people's marks, I believe the signature in the book to be the prisoner's writing, I have no doubt whatever of it, from my knowledge of his writing, without other circumstances. I found nothing at his house which could make the forged impression - our punches are of steel. The prisoner did not know we were coming to search his house, only his sons were at work.

Q - Did you know Wintle, who was tried here?

GEORGE MILES - Yes; I did not see him at either of the examinations. The duty is 1 s. 6 d. per ounce; the spoons weigh seven ounces nine pennyweights. The polishing ought not to take away any of the impression, they send them to us as smooth as they possibly can; the polishing does not remove the clear impression, it merely takes off the sharpness; I never said that it was impossible to tell whether the stamp on light spoons was correct. Before the examination, Mr. Barrow asked my opinion on the plate, and I gave it him - I occasionally use a magnifying-glass, I do not think I did on this occasion; I gave my opinion first, and afterwards took my glass to examine them, as it comes so habitual to me.

Q - Did not Barrow say he thought the impressions fair, and you replied that it might be so, but it was difficult to ascertain whether they were forged or not?

GEORGE MILES - Such conversation never took place, I never thought the stamp on the tongs was forged.

MR. BARROW - I never said to any one that it was nice and difficult to say whether the stamps on the spoons were forged or not.

GEORGE MILES re-examined.

Q - You have tried the experiment of getting the reverse of the original stamp?

GEORGE MILES - I have tried it with silver; a stamp so obtained, would soon be worn out and become blunt, and I should think would not stamp above four or five. If polishing is done skillfully, it will not at all injure the stamp.

Q - Look at this spoon, has it a genuine stamp?

GEORGE MILES - It has; and is finished. There is scarcely any difference in this impression from when it was made; here are twelve with genuine stamps which are not at all injured in polishing, two of the twelve forged ones appear to have received more injury than the rest - the sharpness is merely taken off.

MR. ALLEY. Q - Then they appear deteriorated?

GEORGE MILES - The sharpness is off.

Q - Must not an impression taken from the tongs be in all its parts a counterpart of the original, though not so plain?

GEORGE MILES - Precisely the same mark; those which I say are made from impressions taken from the tongs, are those found in his work-shop, not those indicted on - I have no doubt that those in question are made by silver punches, taken from genuine marks; I cannot possibly be deceived in distinguishing between that and a mark from the genuine stamp; they stand in the same form, but there is a material difference between the impression of this and the Company's steel punch; a silver mark cannot give the same impression as a steel one.

JURY. Q - It is possible that he might make a steel punch instead of a silver one?

GEORGE MILES - The genuine mark is altogether different; we have no private mark.

MR. WALFORD. Q - Have you yourself taken impressions with silver?

GEORGE MILES - Yes; and made an impression on other silver with it. I know a silver punch will make an impression, but it is not like our steel one - a person conversant with the marks cannot help distinguishing one from the other, I am certain the marks in question are not made with a steel punch.

MR. ANDREWS. Q - How many persons besides yourself are there in the office?

GEORGE MILES - Five or six; five of them have been there longer than me.

MR. BARROW - I have assayed seven of the spoons since his apprehension, they are of the proper standard.

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JOHN SMITH - I am engraver to the Goldsmith's Company. I engraved the instrument which makes the Hall and Government stamp, and have done so for fourteen years; marks made by a steel punch would be different from any made by silver or any other metal. The marks on the seven spoons are all counterfeit, I should conceive they were never made by a steel punch, but can positively swear they were not made by the instrument I made; the punch is engraved entirely by myself. I never tried how a mark might be made without a steel punch; I am also certain that the other five are not made by the punch which I engraved, and are not the marks of the steel punch used at the Hall.

Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. Q - Are they made with a steel punch?

JOHN SMITH - They cannot; if it had, it would not be convex, there is a convexity round the Lion, which could not be if it were done with a steel punch, as they are always flat and hard - I cannot say what metal it is made with, but it is not steel. It certainly requires great experience to detect these stamps, I believe I am the most accomplished in this art. I had some conversation with Mr. Lane about the sugar-tongs, I did not express a doubt of the stamps on them being genuine; I took a magnifier to examine them.

Q - Did you not say "It may be so, but they do it with such a nicety, that it is difficult to tell whether the stamp is correct or not"?

JOHN SMITH - I think those words were used, with reference to the spoons, but not to the tongs.

MR. NORTON. Q - Is it with reference to your being the maker, or your general knowledge, that you think yourself the only likely person able to judge whether they are forged?

JOHN SMITH - I think myself the only person, as I made it; the opinion I gave of the spoons was, that they were decidedly forged, I never doubted it, I never said it was impossible to judge, for they were done to such a nicety - I expressed no doubt about it to Lane, not of my own opinion.

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JOHN WALTERS - I am a pawnbroker. On the 28th of June, I gave the prisoner an order for two pair of gravy spoons; Mr. Miles took one pair away (looks at a pair) they were like these, I had none but what I had of the prisoner - they have W. W. on them.

Cross-examined by MR. ALLEY. Q - Have you often bought of him?

JOHN WALTERS - I never bought gravy-spoons of any one but him; I sold one pair in the shop, I have three shopmen; I am sure I gave Miles the same I had of him.

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HENRY PEACHEY - I am a silversmith, and live in Goswell-street. I employed the prisoner to make silver articles for me; I have a bill of parcels dated the 8th of June, for thirty teaspoons, there are eighteen added to this bill which I had on the 1st of May; I gave Mr. Miles eight of them last Saturday week, they were spoons which I received of the prisoner, but I cannot say when - they have his mark, W. W. on them.

Cross-examined by MR. ANDREWS. Q - Are you aware this man is being tried for his life?

HENRY PEACHEY - Yes; I cannot swear they were part of the forty-eight spoons mentioned in this bill, or that I had them from his hands, but they come to me in consequence of orders I gave him; I never recollect any being brought but by him or his sons, one of whom is grown up - I have dealt five years with him.

MR. NORTON. Q - He has brought you spoons with his own hands?

HENRY PEACHEY - Yes; and they were marked W. W. the same as these.

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JAMES ROBERT CASSELL - I am a silversmith, and live in Old-street. I dealt with the prisoner; some spoons were seized at my house last Monday, I have not seen them since.

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GEORGE MILES (re-examined) - The two gravy-spoons have the Leopard's-head, Lion's-head, and date mark, they are forged, and so are eight from Peachey's.

JOHN SMITH (re-examined) - The marks on the gravy-spoons are forged, and so are those on the eight teaspoons; the ground or shield is rose convex above the letters, the convexity could not appear if it was done with the proper stamp, and the shield round the impression is spread and not a correct oval, but battered in - I think it is a little larger, but striking deep or shallow would have that effect.

END TESTIMONY

Prisoner's Defense

The witness Miles, I am sorry to say, has spoken very wrong; he says I rather refused to give up what he asked for; but the moment they came in I readily shewed them every thing. When I saw them there were five or six of them, they came right into the shop, and fortunate enough for me, had they been half an hour later I should have put the four dozen they sent back into the very state of the three pair of tongs they say I had taken an impression from. Work goes in the rough to the Hall and comes back in various states; sometimes it is almost cut through with the mark, and at other times they are so faint you can hardly see them, and we are obliged to hammer them and take as little off as we possibly can, as we pay duty before it goes, though they make a small allowance. It was never my intention to injure any one. He asked for my books or something - I said my accounts were very short; but such as they were I gave them. I never had but one mark since I have been in business. If there is any thing that bears the appearance of forgery it must be some evil-designed bad person out of doors who has been the cause of it. I am rather in the decline of life, and my faculties rather decline, and for some time past I have not worked myself but left it to my sons.

JURY to MILES. Q - Are the same sized stamps used to all silver?

GEORGE MILES - They are different sizes, but the same impression. All teaspoons are marked with the same impression.

Verdict

NOT GUILTY

There were four other indictments against the prisoner, for similar offenses, in which the Learned Counsel declined proceeding.

First Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Common Sergeant

Character Backgrounds and Order of Procedure

by Trevor Downes

The Cast:

William Weston - A goldsmith, free by patrimony on the 7 October 1794, his father also William, appears in the Parliamentary Report of 1773 as spoonmaker of Silver Street, Wood Street, London. William junior entered his first mark as a plateworker on the 18 September 1810, his workshop was at 30, King Street, Islington, where he worked with his two sons, predominantly as spoonmakers.

George Miles - Appointed Senior Assayer at Goldsmiths Hall in 1824. Miles had previously been apprenticed to Charles Halsey Johnson as a Refiner for two years, then to William Holmes (Grimwade 3161-2, 3176, 3526) he completed his apprenticeship in 1804 and unsuccessfully sought a position at Goldsmiths Hall. Undeterred he set up business in Clerkenwell, and in 1810 his wish was granted, when he was appointed 4th Drawer and in 1822 3rd Assayer. He died in 1837.

John Smith - Engraver to The Goldsmith's Company and the Government.

John Barrow - Deputy Warden of the Goldsmith's Company.

Observations:

This trial has several similarities with the George Wintle case of 1813, both were accused of counterfeiting hallmarks on spoons, both should have been found guilty and both attempted to protect their business's by registering family members at Goldsmiths Hall. William Weston was a "Little Master", from the transcript we know he supplied Henry Peachey, John Walters, James Robert Cassell and Thomas Upjohn, none of whom appear to be registered at Goldsmiths Hall, the spoons supplied were marked with Weston's stamp. It is interesting how James Wintle's name crops up twice during the trial, it has been nine years since his fathers case came up and he still appears to be a most disliked man, but was it because of the forgeries or was it because he now brought prosecutions against his fellow silversmiths? As in the Wintle case there was an attempt to protect the business. William's brother Charles (Grimwade 430) entered his first mark on the 13 October 1821, eleven days before the trial, and entered his address as 30, King Street, Islington. Presumably there were fears that William would be found guilty. Although Arthur Grimwade presumes Charles was William's brother, I suspect he may have been in fact his son. There may have been confusion between the elder William and the younger William, Grimwade has Charles father as William Weston of Islington. Charles was apprenticed to George Day (Grimwade 785-7) of Vinegar Yard, St.John's Lane, Clerkenwell as a spoonmaker on 6 April 1814, so if his apprenticeship was seven years, this would fit in nicely as a time to join his father. If William was working for his father he may not have entered his mark until somewhat late in life, possibly after his father's death or retirement. We can also see that during the trial one of William's sons is described as being "grown up". Why was William Weston found not guilty and four other indictments against him dropped? It is a mystery, perhaps he gave information on others, we will probably never know. William Weston carried on his business as a silversmith, entering a new, second mark on 5 September 1822 at the same address.
Gleanings from the transcript

Procedure when entering a mark at Goldsmiths Hall:
  1. Silversmith has punch made with first letter of Christian name and first letter of surname.
  2. Hall takes two impressions, one on a pewter plate, another in the company's book, this one is signed by the silversmith.
  3. Stamp is returned to the silversmith.
Procedure when work is taken to the Hall:
  1. Item is taken to the Hall in the rough, but already stamped with the maker's mark.
  2. It is given to the weigher (who presumably, checks the Company's book for maker's mark and weighs to access duty).
  3. It passes to the assayer, if assay proves it to be sterling it passes on to the marker.
  4. The marker stamps item with Leopards Head, Lion Passant, date mark and the government's duty mark, the four stamps are struck with one punch.


Source:
The Whole Proceedings On the King's Commission of the Peace Oyer and Terminer,
and Gaol Delivery for the City of London,
and also the Gaol Delivery for the County of Middlesex.
Held at Justice-Hall, in the Old Bailey, On Wednesday the 14th of February, 1821
and following Days;
Being the Third Session in the Mayoralty of The Right Honourable John Thomas Thorp, Lord Mayor of the City of London.


Taken in Shorthand by H. Buckler
Basinghall Street
(By The Authority of the Corporation of the City of London,)
London:
Printed and Published, For H. Buckler, by T. Booth, 31, St. Andrew's Hill, Doctor's Commons
1821.
oldbaileyonline.org



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