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25 Feb 2013

Legislation reform enables Sheffield to compete in European market

The Sheffield Assay Office is celebrating a long awaited reform to legislation which now legally entitles the 240 year old Sheffield institution to apply a UK Hallmark overseas and therefore compete with European Assay Offices already operating without geographical restrictions.

Previous Hallmarking law prohibited UK Assay Offices from striking Hallmarks outside of the UK, impacting on the organisation’s commercial viability in a marketplace that is becoming increasingly globalised. The amendments to the Hallmarking Act 1973 finally came in to force on 8th February 2013, following a lengthy four year campaign, and signifies a landmark in terms of business development within the European marketplace.

Ashley Carson, Assay Master and Chief Executive of Sheffield Assay Office said: “This is welcome news for both the Sheffield Assay Office and our city. The Legislation Reform Order finally enables us to compete in Europe alongside our Dutch counterparts who have been a constant threat to our business. We are delighted with the outcome and extremely thankful for all the support we have had on this campaign, including that of our local MPs.”

Paul Blomfield, Member of Parliament for Sheffield Central, said: “Sheffield Assay Office has played an important role in the UK for 240 years. I’m delighted that they’ll now be able to compete internationally and extend their activities beyond the UK. This will not only just be good for the Assay Office but also for the regional economy.” 

The Sheffield Assay Office was established in 1773 when local silversmiths, who resented the inconvenience of having to send their wares to London for hallmarking, joined with Birmingham petitioners to ask Parliament for their own Offices. Despite fierce opposition from the London Goldsmiths' Company, an Act of Parliament (shown here) was passed, granting Sheffield the right to assay silver.



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