The Assay Master

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The very first Sheffield Assay Master in 1773 was Daniel Bradbury, a Londoner who presided over the work of the Assay Office in a rented house on Norfolk Street. The Office only opened on Mondays and Thursdays, though Mr. Bradbury was allowed to open on a third day for private assays.

Fast forward a couple of centuries and you will find that the current Assay Master, Ashley Carson, is a Sheffield man born and bred who holds the distinction of being the youngest Assay Master ever appointed. The organisation he is responsible for is also much changed; in addition to the traditional disciplines of assay and hallmarking, Sheffield Assay Office offers a wide range of analytical tests and services which are in so much demand that Mr Bradbury's three day week would be out of the question!

Born in 1960, Ashley M. Carson was educated at Jordanthorpe School and joined the Assay Office in 1977, at the age of 17. He continued his education at Chesterfield College where he studied silversmithing and was named Student of the Year. As a student he was privileged to have a piece accepted into the City Plate Collection.

Ashley learned the business of the Assay Office in the best way possible, by working his way through the organisation - from sampler, marker, computer manager and general manager, before being appointed Assay Master 1993 at the age of only 32. He was the youngest person ever to have been selected for this important position.

In 2017 The Assay Master has served 40 years of service with the Assay Office, making him not only the youngest-ever Assay Master, but now the longest serving.

Under Ashley's leadership, Sheffield Assay Office has grown rapidly and its market share in hallmarking has risen dramatically. He has also been responsible for broadening the scope of the Assay Office work, having identified the opportunities for growth in analytical services.
Ashley attributes this success to his desire to be of service to the consumer, the precious metal and jewellery trades, and his home city.

Has has also been a driving force in committing the Assay Office to the sponsorship of young silversmiths and students at Sheffield Hallam.

Ashley is a Freeman of the Cutlers' Company and was made an Honorary Doctor of Sheffield Hallam University in 2003.

He sits on the council of the Association of European Assay Offices and the International Convention on Hallmarking and represents the Assay Office at the British Hallmarking Council. He is the current Chairman of the International Convention Technical Committee.