Blog: Birds of a Feather
Date: 16 May 2022Copyright © David Boettcher 2005 - 2023 all rights reserved.
I make additions and corrections to this web site frequently, but because they are buried somewhere on one of the pages the changes are not very noticeable. I decided to create this blog to highlight new material. Here below you will find part of one of the pages that is either completely new or I have recently changed or added to significantly.
For many years on my page about Swiss Hallmarks and elsewhere, I have translated the name of the Swiss hallmark for the lower standard of silver, 0.800 or 800‰, as a “grouse.” This is not strictly accurate.
The mark is called in Swiss documentation in the French language a “coq de bruyère”. This is sometimes translated as “grouse” but more specifically it refers to the largest member of the grouse family, the capercaillie, also known as the wood grouse.
The Swiss Precious Metals Control Act of 23 December 1880 specified the legal standards of fineness for gold and silver, but it did not define the hallmarks to be stamped on them. These were the subject of subsequent executive order dated 17 May 1881.
The beautifully drawn representations of the marks shown in the image from the 1881 executive order reproduced here show precisely how the marks should appear. Of course, the fine detail is beyond the capability of the small punches used on watch cases to reproduce, but the bird shown as the mark for 800 silver clearly has the distinctive flared tail of a male capercaillie. During the breeding season, male capercaillie put on the flamboyant display shown in the image, with tail flared and wings pointed down.
The German name for a capercaillie is an auerhahn, which appears in Swiss documentation in the German language.
I have now changed the word grouse to capercaillie on my pages about Swiss hallmarking; this blog entry explains why.
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Copyright © David Boettcher 2005 - 2023 all rights reserved. This page updated May 2022. W3CMVS. Back to the top of the page.