A touch mark is a pewterer’s “trade mark” and often, but not always, includes the name or initials of the pewterer. In London and Edinburgh pewterers had to record their touch marks on special plates, and we know the names of most of those who did so.
However, that practice was not followed elsewhere, and even in London and Edinburgh pewterers often used touch marks that differed from those they had recorded on the ‘Touch Plates’. So whilst thousands of touch marks have been recorded, we do not always know the pewterers to whom they belong.
Touch marks vary considerably in style and size, and by the 19th century they had often become just a simple name stamp. If a touch mark includes a date, this is the date on which the pewterer set up in business, not the date on which the article was made.