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Celebrating 240 Years of Sheffield Assay Office

11 Sep 2013

History of Sheffield Assay OfficeToday, Wednesday 11th of September 2013, Sheffield Assay Office celebrates its 240th Anniversary.

As one of the UK’s four remaining Assay Offices, Sheffield Assay Office was first established in 1773 when an Act of Parliament gave the city the right to assay silver and bestow the town mark upon items of top quality.

The Act appointed 30 local men, with the number of silversmiths restricted to ten, as 'Guardians of the Standard of Wrought Plate in the Town of Sheffield'. By restricting the number of Guardians who were silversmiths to ten, Parliament ensured that we were run for the benefit of the consumer rather than the manufacturer. The Guardians’ role was to supervise the work of the Office and ensure that we offered an independent and impartial service. This role is still active today, with guardians meeting regularly to discuss the organisation and its activities.

In the early days of the Office we regularly received work to assay and mark made by local silversmiths, though we have now grown somewhat, and are proud to now have a variety of clients throughout the UK and overseas.

We continue to be leading supporters of metal craftwork and silversmithing in Sheffield. Since 2004 we have been running the ‘Little Gems’ initiative, designed to develop new silversmithing talent in the local area and continue the citys longstanding tradition of metalworking expertise and creativity.

HistoryThroughout our history we have been overseen by an Assay Master. The very first Sheffield Assay Master was Daniel Bradbury, a Londoner who first presided over the work of the Assay Office in a rented house on Norfolk Street.

Today Ashley Carson resides in the position of Assay Master at the Office. Ashley has held the position since 1993 when he was honoured with being appointed the youngest Assay Master in the organisation’s history.

On speaking of the 240th birthday Ashley said “The Sheffield Assay Office has a long and proud history as one of the key assets to the steel city. This latest milestone is another chapter in what has been a great story for Sheffield and we’re proud to continue to support the industry in South Yorkshire so that there will be many more chapters and stories to add as we enter the next phase in our work.”

 “I have been immensely proud to be part of the organisation since I joined as a 17 year old in 1977 and I was honoured to take up the post of Assay Master, following on with the families association with the office as my mother had previously been Deputy Assay Master.

 History“The work has of the Assay Office over the past 240 years has been thanks to the dedication of many talented and driven individuals and we hope to continue maintaining Sheffield’s reputation for integrity and quality for many more years to come.”

When asked of the work the Assay Office does in the local community, Ashley added: “We are committed to supporting the next generation of talent in Sheffield so that the city is able to develop its excellent track record further and we want to make sure the Sheffield Assay Office remains a proud institution of the city for many more years to come.”

In order for us to ensure the longevity of our business we have diversified our role within the industry. The expansion of our Analytical Services Department over the years has allowed us to improve our customer offer and increase our expertise. Along with the assay and hallmarking of precious metals, we now also offer a range of precious metal, metal and environmental testing services;


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