What is the reason for the crown mark on pint glasses?

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

New mark: the crown symbol on pint glasses was replaced in 2006 (image: Getty/Rouzes)
New mark: the crown symbol on pint glasses was replaced in 2006 (image: Getty/Rouzes)

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The Government recently revealed guidance to help businesses apply the crown symbol to pint glasses and as a result, The Morning Advertiser has delved into the history of the mark.

As far back as 1698, British pint glasses meant for measuring and serving beer had a crown stamp, which acted as a declaration the vessel, when filled to the brim or line measure, accurately held a pint.

Before 2006, the crown stamp was used by local authority trading standards officers and Government-approved verifiers to indicate conformity to legal standards.

It was of the St Edward’s Crown with the identification number of the trading standards inspector or Government-approved verifier underneath.

The 2004 EU Measuring Instruments Directive came into force in 2006 and meant glasses had to feature the EU-wide ‘CE mark’ as a conformity assessment marking as well as the ‘M’ metrology mark.

Stamp history

In order for this to be implemented, legislation to replace the crown stamp with the newer mark was introduced in the UK.

The newer markings were applied by the manufacturer as a declaration the glass met the legal requirement that applied to it, including for measurement accuracy.

This meant the use of the crown as an indication of measurement accuracy stopped in 2006.

Nowadays, glasses used to measure and sell liquid in pubs, such as pint and half pint glasses, are classified as ‘capacity serving measures’.

They are regulated by the Measuring Instrument Regulations 2016 and required to measure liquid accurately as well as having to carry conformity markings to show they meet the legal requirements.

This month and as the Queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee (Friday 3 June), post-Brexit guidance to return the crown symbol and remove the EU ban on imperial measures were set out by the Government.

Government guidance

The guidance on how to put the crown back onto pint glasses is for manufacturers and has to be displayed in addition to the legally required conformity assessment markings.

It can be applied on a voluntary basis as a decorative mark in Great Britain and Northern Ireland but is no meaning as to measurement accuracy should be inferred from it being displayed on the vessel.

The crown should also not be accompanied by numbers immediately below it and any indication of measurement

At the time, business minister Paul Scully said: “This Platinum Jubilee weekend, we’re raising a toast to Her Majesty The Queen’s health and service to this country. It’s a fitting tribute we’re now helping businesses to restore the crown symbol to pint glasses.”

This was announced at the same time the Government published a consultation on how to implement a change to the law on weights and measures as UK law currently requires metric units to be used as the primary indication for all trade purposes.

While this could impact shops, as imperial units are authorised for us on their own in a small number of cases such as draught beer and cider sales, it’s unlikely to have much effect on pubs.

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