The Company of Goldsmith of Dublin.

The Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin governs the Assay Office which is situated in Dublin Castle. The Company was established and incorporated by royal charter of Charles I on 22nd December 1637. The craft of goldsmith existed in Ireland long before this, during the prehistoric times as early as 1800 BC. It flourished also following the introduction of Christianity in the fifth century and during the medieval period following the Anglo-Norman invasion in 1169. There is mention occasionally of the existence of a guild of goldsmiths in Dublin during the sixteenth century.

The Company was established and incorporated by royal charter of Charles 1 on 22nd December 1637.The actual document containing the charter of 1637 still exists and is in possession of the Company. It is lengthy and comprehensive containing numerous clauses granting very wide and plenary powers. Briefly, the important provisions were: a company was established as a body corporate with powers of perpetual succession and the control of the manufacture and sale of all gold and silver wares in Ireland was vested in it.

The powers given included enforcing prescribed minimum standards of fineness for the quality of gold, silver and platinum to be used in manufacture and the submission to the Company of all gold, silver and platinum wares for assay and hallmarking. As well, ancillary powers such as that of making bye-laws, holding property, search, seizure and destruction of sub-standard wares were given by the charter.

The marks stamped were known as HALLMARKS, so called because they were stamped in Goldsmiths Hall, the name by which the Assay Office would have been more widely known in its early years as it was also the meeting place of the Company and still is. The maker’s mark sometimes referred to as a responsibility or sponsors mark is not a hallmark as it is stamped by the maker before sending the article for assay.

During the now almost four centuries of the Company’s existence its powers have been extended several times by act of parliament and by government order to meet changing conditions. The laboratories have state of art facilities and constantly updating equipment and test methods making them one of the leading precious metal test laboratories in the world. Fundamentally, however, the original purpose, which was to protect the public from fraud when buying articles of gold, silver and platinum still remains. The Assay Office provides a high level of consumer protection in a fair-trading environment.

If you would like to learn more about the Company of Goldsmiths or require additional information on any of the services we provide please don't hesitate to contact our office.

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