Assay Office at Goldsmiths' Hall - The Mistress's Event

Monday 25th February 2019

The Mistress has a penchant for jewellery so, when thinking about what to do for The Mistress's Event, it seemed a logical thing to accept the kind offer of our good friend Adam Phillips to pay a visit to the London Assay Office which is buried deep in Goldsmiths' Hall. The Tobacco Pipe Makers know Adam well from his many attendances at Smoking Club events over the years and his work at the Assay Office has always been the source of fascination.

Twenty one of us attended that day, mainly the partners of Court members although there were a few interlopers like me, the IPM and the Senior Warden - couldn't resist. Once all coats and bags were taken away and locked up safely, Adam and Assay veteran Dave Merry walked us through the Hall and its many reception rooms providing us with a history and many fun facts. This included Goldsmiths' Hall having been the setting for Ellie Goulding's video for 'Love me like you do', a song written for the film 'Fifty Shades of Grey'!!

Once the swooning had stopped, we were all moved on to the offices and workshops of the Assay Office itself where we learned about the daily activities as jewellers across the country would send in their products for hallmarking ahead of sale. The processes of testing the goods, confirming their quality and then applying appropriate hallmarks was described and shown in a fascinating tour that culminated in the testing of a number of the guests personal pieces of jewellery. Thankfully, there were no nasty surprises. The same cannot be said for some luckless buyers of silver antiques now in the possession of the Assay Office in its 'Black Museum'. These items were seemingly plausable items that were either the products of innocent adaption or outright fraud. What they had in common was genuine hallmarking misapplied to composite silver products. True cases of caveat emptor!

Leaving Goldsmiths' Hall extending heartfelt thanks to our hosts and guides, the party made its way just a short distance to Manicomio, a fine Italian restaurant, for a most pleasurable and relaxed lunch. It was a perfect day.