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Hallmark: A History of the London Assay Office

Forbes, J. S.

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ISBN 10: 0906290260 / ISBN 13: 9780906290262
Published by Goldsmith's; Unicorn Press, London, 1999
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From Owl & Company Bookshop (Calvello Books) (Oakland, CA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

Large octavo in black board in black and grey dust jacket (black spine); illus. (some color); 367 p., 25 cm. Signed by author on half-title page. Fine copy in near fine+ dust jacket; light signs of use around DJ edges; else excellent copy; boards are clean; pages are fine, bright and free of marks and creases; binding is tight and square. Bookseller Inventory # 84106

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Hallmark: A History of the London Assay ...

Publisher: Goldsmith's; Unicorn Press, London

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: fine

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

About this title

Synopsis:

The minute books of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, which are the core of this study, provide an almost unbroken record since the 1330s, and names prominent in the company's affairs include Isaac Newton, Charles II, Paul de Lamerie, the Vyners and the Garrards. Appendices include a glossary of terms and a list of London silver hallmarks. Testing articles made of precious metals and stamping them with hallmarks to indicate that they are of a minimum standard of purity has been carried out by the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths for seven centuries. At the beginning of the 14th century Edward I initiated the first, rudimentary hallmarking system, and by 1327 the Goldsmiths' Guild had been granted its first royal charter. The ensuing history of the London Assay Office encompasses royal greed, forgery and counterfeiting, interlopers from abroad, plague, war and fluctuating fortunes - and continuing worries over the intrinsic value of the metal. Even today the Assay Office participates in the ancient tradition of the trial of the pyx, testing the coin of the realm.

From Library Journal:

Forbes, who served as head of the London Assay Office for 30 years, focuses on the London office but in the process provides a full history of English hallmarking, i.e., the assaying of silver articles and their stamping/marking by the Goldsmith's Company at its hall. The result is a history of the enforcement of a standard for silver--one of the oldest continuous forms of consumer protection. The date year, symbolized by a letter of the alphabet within a shield, each changing regularly, now provides the collector with the exact date of manufacture. Yet it was originally adopted to identify the year of manufacture so that, should a substandard article be uncovered, the officials who presided over the assay could be held responsible. Carefully researched and clearly written, this book is filled with fascinating stories of people and events, of corruption and cunning. Undoubtedly, it will remain the standard on the subject for decades to come and should be included in public as well as academic libraries.
-Martin Chasin, Adult Inst., Bridgeport, CT
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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