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Assay Office Marks 240 Years of Sterling Work in Sheffield

20 Sep 2013

The Sheffield Assay Master, Ashley Carson, has today spoken of the important role the Sheffield Assay Office has played in the city’s history as the organisation celebrates its 240th anniversary in what has been a year of milestones for Sheffield and its past, present and future expertise in all things metal.  The Candlesticks were the first item to be assayed and marked at SAO on the 20th September 1773.

The Assay Office was established in September 1773 after an Act of Parliament granted Sheffield the right to assess and hallmark silver, it is now one of only four remaining assaying organisations in the UK and it continues to assess thousands of items of precious metals each year.

Mr Carson, who has held the position of Assay Master since 1993, believes the continued success and longevity of the office has been down to its commitment to “keeping Sheffield at the forefront of the hallmarking industry” and its dedication to “preserving the steel city’s unrivalled reputation for metal work.”

Ashley said: “Sheffield is internationally renowned for its metallurgy and steel-making quality with pioneers such as Benjamin Huntsman, Thomas Boulsover and of course Harry Brearley putting Sheffield on the map with their ingenuity and advancements in technology.

“The Sheffield Assay Office has now been part of this illustrious history for 240 years and the Sheffield hallmark has been applied to items from all over the world. It is the work of this office that has really helped to spread the city’s reputation for integrity and quality on an international scale.” 

The Assay Office, currently based in Hillsborough, continues to work closely at the core of Sheffield’s metalwork production industry, with clients ranging from high street retailers of fashion jewellery to international healthcare companies. Continued investment in research and development helps the Jackie Walker is the Hallmarking Production Manager and this image shows the modern technique for hallmarking jewellery.organisation move into advanced analytical services.

Ashley said: “Any organisation that makes it to the ripe old age of 240 has done so by moving with the times and developing its expertise along the way. The Sheffield Assay Office has come a long since its first Assay Master was working to assess those initial few items of silver from his office in a rented house on Norfolk Street.”

“Our ethos at the Assay Office is to not only protect and maintain Sheffield’s fantastic reputation and heritage but also to help it continue to grow. We are a big supporter of metal craftsmanship in the region with initiatives in place to develop new silversmithing talent and support the next generation of creativity and metalworking expertise.”

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