there any identifying markings, numbers, or inscriptions on the
object (for example, a signature, dedication, title, makers
marks, purity marks, property marks)?
This category includes both text and markings that have been
inscribed, cast, stamped or otherwise applied or incorporated
into the object at the time of manufacture or at a later date.
It should include the location(s) of inscriptions and markings,
for example, inscription on frieze of plinth, makers
mark on base.
& Markings can greatly assist in the identification of objects.
They are particularly important in differentiating between a number
of objects of similar appearance. The presence of a serial number
or the position of a makers mark might be the only difference
between the object in question and others like it. Recorded inscriptions
and markings can assist in identifying the maker of an object,
its place of origin, the date or period in which it was made,
or the material of which it is made, and even supply information
about its provenance.
inscriptions should always be recorded exactly as they appear
on the object, including misspellings, although these should be
followed by the qualifier sic in brackets to indicate that the
incorrectness is as given in the inscription, for example, Spring
Summer Autum [sic] Winter. If an inscription is only partly
legible, record the words/letters that can be read and indicate
gaps (for example, Mytton wild [illegible] shooting or Mytton
wild. . .shooting). Where missing or illegible letters or
words have been inferred, indicate the part of the inscription
that is not visible on the object, for example, . . .ad fanum
tuum [at]tulerint. When the correct reading of an object is
uncertain, add a question mark, except when recording signatures.
A question mark attached to a signature will suggest that there
is uncertainty about the attribution (see below). An inscription
that is wholly illegible should be recorded as such, for example,
should be recorded in the original language, although translations
can be provided if desired
docilianus bruceri deaesanctissime suli devoveoeum[.]ui caracellammeam
inuolaueritsi uirsiferninasi seruussiliber ut[1-2]umdeasulis
maximoletum [.]digatneceiso mnumpermit. This has been translated
as: Docilianus (son) of Brucerus [Brucetus?] to the most
holy goddess Sulis. I curse him who has stolen my hooded cloak,
whether man or woman, whether slave or free, that. . .the goddess
Sulis inflict death upon. . .and not allow him sleep or children
now and in the future, until he has brought my hooded cloak
to the temple of her divinity.
If the inscription
cannot be recorded as it appears on the object, for example when
it is in an ancient language or in pictograms, its presence should
be recorded, for example, with pictorial cuneiform. A translation
of the text can also be given, if known, for example, inscription
in runes on comb-case translates as "Thorfast made a good comb".
In these cases a photograph, or photographs, should also be taken
of the inscription to aid identification.
a mark, it is important to remember that non-experts are unlikely
to be able to visualize it from a description that gives its meaning,
but does not describe its appearance. For example, the information
Makers mark of Pierre-François Drais, charge and
discharge marks of Jean-Baptiste Fouache does not tell a non-expert
anything about the appearance of the two marks mentioned. If possible,
therefore, describe the marks as well as interpreting them, for
example, four hallmarks: lion passant (sterling silver); rose
(Sheffield, England); "i" (1997); initials "PST" (Peter Scot Thornes).
Close-up photographs or sketches of marks, and their positions
relative to each other, may provide a unique means of identifying
the object (see also Distinguishing
that is engraved, carved, cast, or otherwise physically a part
of the object should be recorded under both Inscriptions &
Markings and Title.
Many markings depict subject matter, ranging from simple designs
(for example, anchor, lion, wheat sheaf) to relatively
complex images (for example, seated figure wearing long gown).
Descriptions of the subject matter of markings should follow the
same approach as that recommended under Subject.
of signatures, dates, and inscriptions can indicate whether they
are believed to be authentic. For example, Christies includes
the text "Signed. . ."/ "Dated. . ."/ "Inscribed. . ."
to indicate its opinion that the work has been signed/dated/inscribed
by the artist, a question mark to indicate doubt about the attribution
(for example, Signed Marc Chagall?), and the qualification
"With signature. . ."/ "With date. . ."/ "With inscription.
. ." to indicate that in its opinion the signature/date/inscription
is by a hand other than that of the artist.
and markings provide useful information about the history of an
object, they can also be misleading. Signatures can be added to
paintings, and marks cannot always be taken at face value. For
example, the crossed swords used by the Meissen porcelain factory
(from ca.1722) were also used by English factories at Bow, Worcester,
Derby, Lowestoft and Coalport deliberately to mislead customers.
Equally if not intentionally misleading was the Chinese habit
especially during the reign of the Kangxi emperor (1662-1722)
of applying the mark of an earlier emperor as an act of
on Security Marking
It is particularly important to record the presence and location
of security markings using substances that are invisible to the
naked eye under normal light, for example, zip code 20073 written
with UV pen on underside of top right hand drawer; Smart Water
applied to stretcher; microchip concealed in frame. Alerting
law-enforcement agencies to the presence of these markings will
enable them to test recovered objects using the appropriate technology,
such as ultraviolet light for inscriptions written with UV marking
pens and Smart Water and scanners for microchips.
that security marking physically alters objects, may result in
damage, and can adversely affect their value. When considering
marking an object for security, first consult an expert for advice
on whether to proceed, and, if so, which is the best method to