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Hallmark of artist Diane Louise Paul

Above is the hallmark identifying the work of Diane Louise Paul. This image was provided by the artist to aid in identifying the work of the artist.

Hallmarks arose in the Middle Ages along with the guild system as a means of identifying the origin of valuable products—items of gold and silver were first to be hallmarked. Hallmarks assured purchasers of the origin (and thus quality) of the hallmarked item. In time, they evolved into modern brands and trademarks.

In hand-made goods we select for the Directory of Traditional American Crafts, we require hallmarking. Each item must bear the unique mark of the maker, both to assure that the product was indeed made by that particular artist and that the product, if a reproduction, makes no pretenses of being an antique original.

Under the rules for participating in the Directory, each piece offered by an artist must bear its hallmark in a way that cannot be separated from the work. Even when a work, like a sampler, which for accuracy contains the name and date of the maker of an original antique piece, must be signed or marked elsewhere on the piece to indicate the modern maker, age, and origin.

Hallmarks on Directory items are thus your best means of identifying a work and its maker without risk of ambiguity.

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