As part of the ‘Antiques For Everyone’ silver anniversary celebrations, The Birmingham Assay Office will be showing important pieces from its private silver collection on the main feature stand during the summer exhibition which takes place at the NEC, Birmingham from 22-25th July, 2010.
Twenty five year anniversaries are traditionally celebrated with silver and The Birmingham Assay Office, long established at the heart of Birmingham’s silver manufacturing, is delighted to participate in the twenty fifth Antiques for Everyone. The anniversary provides a perfect opportunity for The Birmingham Assay Office to give the public a rare glimpse of some appropriate anniversary pieces from its spectacular Silver Collection in a feature entitled A Celebration of Silver.
The Silver Collection of The Birmingham Assay Office chronicles the development of silver manufacture in Birmingham since it was founded by Act of Parliament in 1773. The Collection is usually only accessible by pre-arranged visits to The Birmingham Assay Office. Visitors to Antiques for Everyone will have a unique opportunity to view and admire pieces significant to the history of the Birmingham silver industry, dating back over three centuries.
On display in A Celebration of Silver will be special commemorative pieces including a vase, commissioned for the Millennium and a fruit bowl, presented to The Birmingham Assay Office at its bicentenary in 1973.
Important trends which drove and shaped the local manufacturing activity will be illustrated by a fascinating collection of ‘toys’ by silversmiths such as Nathaniel Mills and Samuel Pemberton and some perfect examples of Arts and Crafts Birmingham silver; and of course no exhibition of Birmingham Silver would be complete without at least one significant piece from Matthew Boulton. It was Boulton’s determined and vigorous lobbying which resulted in the founding of The Birmingham Assay Office in 1773. Items from the collection demonstrate admirably the pioneering techniques he was employing at his Soho Manufactory during the same period.
The need for a hallmark remains as important now as it was in the eighteenth century as it continues to protect both the consumer and the trade. Precious metals are invariably mixed with base metals to create a workable alloy and the opportunity for fraud and dishonesty is ever present. The Birmingham Assay Office, now the largest in the UK handles several million articles a year and, while retaining its independence, has ventured into new areas.
The Birmingham Assay Office has expanded its services beyond its statutory hallmarking duties and offers a range of services connected to the jewellery, precious metal and gemstone industry. AnchorCert Independent Diamond Certification offers reassurance as to the authenticity and quality of diamonds and gemstones and the SafeGuard Independent Jewellery Valuation service gives an independent expert opinion of the current value of your precious possessions whether they are jewellery, silverware or watches.
If your visit to Antiques for Everyone whets your appetite there is always the option to sign up for a visit to the full Silver Collection, housed in the impressive Victorian splendour of The Birmingham Assay Office in Birmingham City Centre. We look forward to welcoming you.
If you would like to see and learn more about the history of silver making in Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter, come along to the show at the NEC, Birmingham from Thursday 22 July to Sunday 25 July 2010. For more information and to obtain a ticket visit www.antiquesforeveryone.co.uk.