simple doubt: why Date Letters instead of the actual year

I think it has to do with the assayer but why, as in imperial russian silver, just don’t use a punch with the year in numbers?

Thanks in advance!

Originally I don’t think the hallmarks were intended for everyone to understand, rather just for the people in the trade/monitoring it.

Also I guess silversmiths and clients both wouldn’t want it to be too apparent if the stock was old.

Just two thoughts, good question!

One good reason for British hallmarks not showing the year as a number is that historically the assay year never coincided with the calendar year. Since 1975 it has done but the tradition of letters has been going a long time and in addition is a legal requirement. London letters were originally changed when the wardens of the Goldsmiths Company were elected, normally at the end of May. Other assay offices followed suit with similar systems. In addition we find that for many pre-19th century letter cycles the same letter was used for more than one year. If you can get hold of a copy of the full Jackson’s Silver and Gold Marks book you will find a section on the history of each assay office which explains the process in much more detail.