Assay Office

Institution set up to assay (test the purity of) precious metals
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Assay offices
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Assay offices are institutions set up to assay (test the purity of) precious metals. This is often done to protect consumers from buying fake items. Upon successful completion of an assay, (i.e. if the metallurgical content is found be equal or better than that claimed by the maker and it otherwise conforms to the prevailing law) the assay offices typically stamp a hallmark, or poinçon on the item to certify its metallurgical content. Hallmarking first appeared in France, with the Goldsmiths' Statute of 1260 promulgated under Etienne Boileau, Provost of Paris, for King Louis IX.
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