What is the meaning of the French Small Guarantee swan mark?

PHOTOS REQUIRED - marks + item
been pickin
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:11 am
Location: Saint Louis

What is the meaning of the French Small Guarantee swan mark?

Postby been pickin » Thu Oct 13, 2005 12:02 pm

I recently acquired a watch inscribed France 1918 AE. I am quite sure it is some grade of silver. While the case components are marked with a 6 (or a 9) the only other mark is a very tiny (1/32") swan on the inside back. I found the guarantee mark on the French marks page but don't understand the meaning of this mark. Please pardon my denseness but is there someone that could explain it to me? Thanks

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ps I am quite pleased with myself for being able to capture the swan image. This was done with a Sony Mavica and a 15x eyepiece.
I would also like to thank those responsible for providing such a valuable resourse in this forum and this site in general.
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Neruda
Posts: 195
Joined: Sat Oct 15, 2005 9:50 am

Postby Neruda » Sat Oct 15, 2005 5:31 pm

My understanding is that this is a mark for imported silver used on all watches and on other pieces of silver imported from countries which did not have a marking system equivilent to the French.
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frenchie_myriam
contributor
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Joined: Sat Aug 06, 2005 3:05 pm
Location: Brussels

Postby frenchie_myriam » Sun Oct 16, 2005 9:06 am

Hello, to complete the information provided with Neruda, I can tell you that the SWAN hallmark is specific to watch casings and this rule was valid from 1st of july 1893 till 1970. It proves it is imported silver fromm all origins. This hallmark is also used to assay during same period all kind of silver items for which the origin cannot be found. Hope this has helped.
Best Regards. Myriam
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been pickin
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:11 am
Location: Saint Louis

Postby been pickin » Tue Oct 18, 2005 12:52 am

Thank you both for your help. With a name like Guarantee, I guess I was expecting a fineness designation but the information provided will help more accurately represent the item. The movement does remind me of an archaic Swiss example I once had. Thanks again, Jeff
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fay
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Oct 08, 2005 1:21 pm
Location: USA

Postby fay » Sat Oct 22, 2005 3:50 pm

With regard to the swan in oval mark:
According to International Hallmarks of Silver -Tardy
The "Swan" mark has been used since 1st July, 1893 on watch cases of all origins and up to 1970. It was also struck on articles coming from non-contracting countries. In addition it is struck on silverware of the legal standard of fineness, but unknown origin, which is sold at public auctions. Assay charges are not refunded when an article bearing this mark is re-exported.
Hope this helps.
Fay
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argentregime
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:51 am
Location: France

Postby argentregime » Thu Aug 24, 2006 5:24 pm

Sorry for the late contribution on the French 'swan', but the position is far from 100% clear.

I handle literally hundreds of French silver cased watches every year many with the swan mark showing they were imported from (mainly) Switzerland or Germany. You can see it on many Swiss silver cased OMEGAs from tiem to time.

However, this mark is not just resticted to watch casings. I also have seen it on an American suger shaker imported into France and many other non-watch related silver items imported into France including an English Sterling silver cigarette case. You can also see it overstruck on items where the silver content is dubious.

To make matters even more confusing, I have seen many examples on watch casings and other 'silver' items, the Swan cartouche also contains a 'P'. I have seen several explanations of this including an assay town, 'PARIS' and more worryingly, that the 'P' in those cases stands for 'plaqué' i.e. plated. However I remain unclear.

In my experience many French buyers steer clear of 'silver' items stamped with cygne presumably because it is not precisely defined or used?

Hope useful.
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argentregime
Posts: 20
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 11:51 am
Location: France

Postby argentregime » Fri Aug 25, 2006 4:20 am

..sorry, looking again at my posting it is slightly ambiguous............

For clarity, yes the Swan hallmark is defined in several learned works such as Tardy, but unlike almost all other French HMs I know of, one sees it regularly used in circumstances that are outside of that definition.

As mentioned in the example of the cigarette case, I have seen it used as a control mark on items which were already fully and legally hallmarked via a system equivalent to France's and where origin was clear. I have also seen it used on single items stamped once, sometimes twice, and even sometimes stamped no less than three times. I have yet to find an explanation of these multiple marks.

In summary, 'SWAN' is an odd one !
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