Forum Auctions presents The Birmingham Assay Office Library

- by Thomas C. McKinney


This month, Forum Auctions in London will be offering the rare book collection of the Birmingham Assay Office on Thursday, 26th March. Founded in 1773, thanks to the drive and persistence of local silversmith Matthew Boulton, the Office is responsible for assaying (testing) and the hallmarking of precious metals (gold, silver, platinum and palladium) as required by the Hallmarking Act.


The Office has moved premises several times and is now located in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter in modern state of the art premises, offering expertise covering assaying as well as authentication and valuations. Their library is rich in books on metallurgy, mining, design and ornament, but also covers chemistry, alchemy, numismatics, horology, including most notably three works by Longitude Prize-winner, John Harrison. Whether your budget is five figures or three, there is a wide range of material being offered over the 457 lot sale.


The collection also includes a copy of the Arts & Crafts masterpiece, the Kelmscott Press Chaucer, several books from Matthew Boulton’s personal library including a sumptuously-bound copy of the locally printed Baskerville Bible, and many foreign-language titles from the 16th to the 19th century.


Forum’s sale of The Birmingham Assay Office Library will take place at 10:30am GMT on March 26th. The entire online catalogue is viewable here.