Hallmarking and the Work of Birmingham Assay Office

1773 - 1790 (c.)

Image: Boulton and Fothergill Forks and Spoons showing Hallmarks for 1774

Image from: Birmingham Assay Office

On 31 August 1773, the Birmingham Assay Office opened in three modest rooms at the King’s Head Inn, in New Street. Boulton was the first manufacturer among the town’s forty licensed silversmiths to submit his wares (and the first to have his items returned smashed because they were not up to standard).

By 1815, the Assay Office moved into offices of its own in Little Cannon Street. In 1877, the site in Newhall Street was acquired, and the Office has remained there to the present time.

The original Act of 1773 only enabled the Birmingham Assay Office to assay and hallmark goods of silver plate. But in 1824 it was granted power to assay and hallmark both gold and silver made in Birmingham, or within 30 miles of the town.


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4459-0Matthew Boulton and Birmingham Silverware in the late 18th and early 19th centuries 4218-0Matthew Boulton and the Formation of Birmingham Assay Office 4603-0Hallmarking and the Work of Birmingham Assay Office 4604-0Hallmarking and the Work of Birmingham Assay Office 4605-0Matthew Boulton and Silver Making 4606-0One of a pair of candlesticks, Boulton & Fothergill, 1768 4607-0Mazarin, or Fish Strainer, Boulton & Fothergill, 1769 3963-0Pair of salts, Boulton & Fothergill, 1773 3991-0Two of a set of four salts, Boulton & Fothergill, 1776 3948-0One of a pair Sauce Tureens, Boulton & Fothergill, 1776 4608-0Sweetmeat Basket, Boulton & Fothergill, 1774 4610-0Dish and Cover, Boulton & Fothergill, 1777 4611-0Cup and Cover, Boulton & Fothergill, 1777 4612-0One of a pair of candlesticks, Matthew Boulton, 1789 4613-0Warwick Vase and Cover, M. Boulton & Plate Co. 1827