Assay Office
Assay Offices were originally founded to be responsible for the testing of the quality of gold, silver, and platinum; as well as to regulate the trade of the goldsmith. The first Assay Office in the United Kingdom was established in London around 1300.1
In British Columbia, the Assay Office was proposed as a measure to remedy the lack of currency in the colony. It was believed that this office would help to authenticate gold ingots and to regulate the export of gold from Canada into the United States.2 The colony of British Columbia saw that the advantages of an Assay Office would be incalculable as it would allow for gold to remain circulating in the country and would enable vendors and purchasers of gold to receive a fair price.3
Prior to establishment in the 1860s, some colonists felt that an assay office was a public inconvenience and a detriment to the commercial interests of the colony. However, the view that the office would allow anyone to learn the true value of the gold in their possession overruled these dissatisfactory opinions.4
  • 1. Current and Historic Assay Offices, Assay Office: Birmingham.
  • 2. R. L. Reid, The Assay Office and the proposed Mint at New Westminster: a chapter in the history of the Fraser River mines, (Charles F. Banfield: Victoria, 1926), p.28.
  • 3. Ibid., 28, 30.
  • 4. Douglas to Lytton, 8 April 1859, CO 60/4, 5439, p.259.
Mentions of this organization in the documents
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British Columbia