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A hallmark is an embossing in metal or leather , so the motif is sunk into the material to be seen as a negative . As a rule, this means driving patterns and shapes into the material by hand.

Punches (also stamping tools) are used as tools , these are metal pins, the ends of which have a simple geometric shape. Stamps with ready-made patterns are often used for small ornaments, as they always look the same and save work.

Hallmarked weapon scabbard

Metal hallmarks

Hallmarked objects are often bars made of precious metal . In ancient Greece and the Middle Ages , coins were also hallmarked on the front or back. This was done more rarely on both sides. It was about the labeling in sovereign regulation. This form of identification is often found on pewter stamps to indicate a manufacturer of such valuables. In today's coinage, a hallmark is usually not found on the obverse and lapel , but on the edge of the coin. It is still used by goldsmiths and jewelers as a hallmark of fineness and can also be found as a gold or silver mark in watch cases.

The hallmarking is also carried out using calibration stamps on calibrated weights for beam scales. Over time, several hallmarks accumulate on many weights. However, hallmarks can also have the task of invalidating previously valid metal money symbols such as coins.

For decorative purposes, punch next to punch is set with the help of stamps until continuous lines, rows of dots or even simple ornamental motifs have emerged. Since the material is not removed but deformed, a plastic base is required, as is the case with chasing .

In the case of rare historical coins, hallmarked new issues, also known as modern replicas, are produced. The year of the replica or a reference to the new coinage is marked with a small hallmark on the coinage. This allows the replica to be distinguished from the original (see 3 Mark Friedrich the Wise and Turmtaler # replica ).

Leather hallmarks

Elaborately hallmarked western saddle

The puncher is a historical craftsman who creates motifs on the leather of book covers , horse saddles, bags, leather clothing, etc. transmits. In modern times, this handicraft has moved into the background in series production, as leather can be industrially embossed with machines and thus inexpensive mass production is possible.

In principle, all leather items made from bare leather can be stamped. Today this ranges from handbags to belts, belt bags, cell phone cases, Ipad covers, mouse pads, coasters, puzzle cups, jewelry, etc. to dog collars. In the past it was mainly knife sheaths that were specially made and personalized. In the biker scene, too, leather seats and saddlebags for Harley-Davidson motorcycles are often equipped with very elaborate hallmarks. Hallmarking is also widespread in the Middle Ages scene, with numerous hand-punched leather items such as belts, bracers and bracelets being offered at medieval markets . Recently, a trend towards more modern designs on handbags and other accessories can also be observed. Leather items with hand-made hallmarks are usually valuable one-offs that are manufactured, hallmarked and often personalized with names or initials directly for a client.

Rotary knife and stamping tool

Leather is stamped with a stamp to create a deepening of the pattern. Since the leather has to be elastic, chrome-tanned leather cannot be used, only vegetable-tanned cowhide. Other leathers from pigs, goats, lamb, etc. are not suitable for hallmarking and are only used as lining leather . The cowhide must also be a full-grain leather with a grain and flesh side, with a fat content of 5 to 10 percent it is called bare leather ; Split leather is unsuitable. The hallmarking always takes place on the grain side. Not all parts of the cowhide are equally suitable. Croupon and neck are best , the flank (side) is not used as it is too stretchy. For punching, the leather should be between 2 and 3.5 mm thick. 2 mm thick is used for very soft bags and 3–3.5 mm thick for thick belts.

Leather is too elastic to be hallmarked when dry. Therefore, it must first be moistened with water until the innermost layer has absorbed water. When the surface is almost dry again, the pattern can be stamped into the leather with the stamping tool.

The motifs to be punched must first be applied to the leather. This is achieved by pressing a blunt stylus onto the moistened surface, which creates dark traces in the relevant areas. The lines are then cut into the wet surface with a swivel knife. Stamping is very time-consuming, as you have to record the pattern, cut into it and, in time-consuming manual work, hammer it into the leather with various stamping tools.

After the leather has been punched, it is usually dyed with various leather stains and colors. By applying a special antique paste to the colored surfaces, the impression of an old leather item can be created. Finally, the edges are smoothed and colored and the surface is usually sealed to make it water-repellent.

Hallmarked ebook reader pocket
Heart with hallmarked wings

In the USA in particular, the punching of leather is still very important in the cowboy and equestrian sports scene. That is why the American Tandy Leather Factory is the world's largest supplier of tools and materials for hallmarking. There are over 200 different stamps available from online mail order stores and many tandy stores in the United States. In Europe there are tandy shops only in England and Spain. But there is also an active scene of punchers in Germany who mostly sell their products online or in markets.

Hallmarking in the gilding trade

In the gilding trade, punching refers to a technique that has been used in Italian panel painting since the 13th century to decorate gilded surfaces ( e.g. picture frames ). The punches are created by hammering punctiform indentations using a special hammer-like tool at a fast striking frequency. Punches, hallmarks and wooden sticks are used as punching tools. On picture frames of the Italian Renaissance there are hallmarks both as an independent decorative element in the form of patterns and as decoration for background design in connection with carved ornaments. For the background design, ornaments are surrounded by scattered punches in the gilded surface that are only laid out as a structural pattern and appear to be rather random. The hallmark results in light and shadow effects that highlight the ornaments in a particularly attractive way.

The book blocks of historical prints and manuscripts can also - usually after gilding - be artistically designed by means of a hallmark ( cut decoration ). To do this, the book block is firmly clamped and processed with the punches.

See also


  • Erhard Brepohl : Theory and Practice of the Goldsmith. 15th enlarged edition. Fachbuchverlag Leipzig in Hanser-Verlag, Munich et al. 2003, ISBN 3-446-22364-9 .
  • Gert Lindner: The large mosaic book of works. Creative design, materials and techniques. Completely revised edition. Mosaik-Verlag, Munich 1979, ISBN 3-570-06469-7 .
  • Metal technology. Basic education (= European reference book series for metal-technical professions). 5th, revised edition. Verlag Europa-Lehrmittel, Haan-Gruiten 2007, ISBN 978-3-8085-1145-9 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Helmut Kahlert , Richard Mühe , Gisbert L. Brunner : Wristwatches: 100 years of development history. Callwey, Munich 1983; 5th edition, ibid. 1996, ISBN 3-7667-1241-1 , p. 482.
  2. Günter Schön: Small German coin catalog, Augsburg 1995, p. 61