The first mark on French silver concerned the town of the products origin, a complicated process as each town had its own symbol. Silversmiths personal marks developped in Paris in the 14th C and spread to the rest of France. Letter dates were introduced in 1460 and in 1543 the countermark became the first mark to guarantee the quality of the silver in a piece. In the 17th and 18th C , Louis XIV and Louis XV ordered that silver be melted down to pay for the various wars of the time (including the silver furniture of Versailles). Hence little silver of this period remains.
The French Revolution of 1789 also demanded the melting of silver and suppressed the guilds which had always ensured high quality.