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Boulton candlesticks

Sally Hoban, Heritage & Training Officer at The Birmingham Assay Office, joined representatives from the Natural History Museum in London; The Barber Institute; History West Midlands and Special Collections and The History of Medicine Unit at The University of Birmingham to present a collections seminar at the University this week. The event, which was organised by the Birmingham 18th Century Centre (BECC) at the University, focused on working with 18th century museum collections and gave participants the chance to share aspects of their collections amongst an audience drawn from the national and local museums, heritage and academic communities.

 Boulton smiles 2

Sally spoke about the Assay’s Office outstanding silver collection and library, focusing on key pieces from the 18th century by Matthew Boulton. She highlighted the collection as a rich resource for historians, collectors and members of the public and raised the profile of the Hallmarking registers as valuable sources for people undertaking research on the history of the Jewellery Quarter and business in Birmingham. Sally also explained the Assay Office’s links with Birmingham’s famous Lunar Society through Matthew Boulton, how the Assay Office has diversified into other business areas, and discussed the Office’s move to its new building in 2015.

 Sloane 3

Victoria Pickering from Queen Mary University in London gave a presentation about her PhD work which is a collaborative project with the Natural History Museum in London. Victoria is working with a historical botanical collection which was put together by a physician called Sir Hans Sloane (1660-1753) in the early 18th century. The collection is called Sloane's 'Vegetable Substances' and is now held at the Natural History Museum. It has a corresponding manuscript catalogue listing over 12,500 specimens. The collection contains all types of botanical material such as seeds, leaves, and beans along with other things that are more curios. Victoria is creating an electronic database of the catalogue so that she can understand more about what is in the collection, who was sending Sloane the items and from where in the world they came from.

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If you would like to visit the Silver Collection and Library at The Birmingham Assay Office, organised visits are available for recognised groups and a new series of Small Groups public visits have just been announced, taking place on 16th June, 21st August, 23rd October and 4th December 2014. Early booking is advised as places are already filling up fast. For further information visit http://www.theassayoffice.co.uk/silvercollection.html Archive appointments to visit the Silver Collection, Library and Archive are also available for researchers, normally on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. These are bookable in advance. Visit http://www.theassayoffice.co.uk/access_archive_library.html for details.  

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