Assay Office Historic Silver Collection Tour

The Silver Room

I was fortunate to attend the last general public visit to the private silver collection at The Birmingham Assay Office in 2012. After a brief introduction from the curator Sally and a short video Cracking The Code, The Story of The Birmingham Assay Office we were shown around the historic silver collection and some of the rooms in the Assay Office.

The Assay office was formed in 1773 through the successful lobbying of the famous local industrialist and silversmith Matthew Boulton. It is the largest Assay Office in the world and is currently housed in a Grade II Listed Building in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. The Assay Office moved here in 1877 and was extended in 1885 due to it’s success. In 1972 an extra storey was added to give much needed space. In 2014 the Assay Office will be moving to Warstone Lane to a purpose built facility and the building sold, although the unique heritage of the building will be kept alive.

The silver collection was started in 1902. The collection has now grown to over 1400 items and includes items by Matthew BoultonNathaniel Mills and Elkington & Co (who were also situated in Newhall Street across the road from the Assay Office).

Birmingham Assay Office Library

The Assay Office library contains a collection of rare books and manuscripts including some first editions of historical importance.

This was a fascinating look at a unique collection of silver in a beautiful listed building. Well worth a trip if you get a chance.

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