Click on the letter you want to date or on a date letter cycle (column) in the table below to see a larger view:
Newcastle goldsmiths were producing silver throughout the Middle Ages but the Newcastle assay office was not officially established until 1702 when an amendment to the 1701 Act of Parliament establishing provincial assay offices was passed (Newcastle having been omitted from the original list). The town mark was derived from the Newcastle arms, being three castles.
In theory the date letter should have been changed in May each year when the new wardens were appointed for the following year, but there is evidence that various date letter punches were not ordered from the engraver until much later in some years. In addtion, prior to 1773, the assay master and the wardens were not always punctilious about changing the date letter annually or in strict alphabetical sequence.
Newcastle gold and silver production reached a peak in 1815 but declined from then onwards and in 1884, at a meeting of the Goldsmiths' Company, it was proposed that the assay office be wound up. The final dies were destroyed in June of that year.