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The Birmingham Assay Office

PO Box 151

Newhall Street


B3 1SB


tel: +44 (0)121 236 6951




email: [email protected]



Contact details: Sally Hoban


Date of visit: 20 September 2013


Nature and extent of collection


Several hundred pieces. The collection was initially formed by Mr Arthur Edgar Westwood who began work at the Assay Office in 1882. In 1883 he became joint Assay Master with his father and on the retirement of his father in 1911 he became sole Assay Master, a post he held until he retired in 1951. The collection began in the late 1890s. Some acquisition records are available. The collection contains coins, tokens, historical medallions and dies from Matthew Boulton’s Soho Manufactury; an exceptional collection of medallion sets including 48 medals each depicting a fragment of the frieze of the Elgin Marbles; the Kenrick Collection of prize medals; a collection of Maundy Money from Charles II onwards and over 100 dies. The collection also contains the Droz Collar which was used by Boulton to produce raised edge lettering and which is currently on loan to the Science Museum in London as part of its James Watt workshop exhibit.



All numbers below are estimated


Coins: A small collection

Tokens: A small collection

Medals: A large collection

Other: Over 100 medal dies; 1Droz Collar

Specific strengths: Examples of dies and commemorative medallions from Matthew Boulton’s Soho Mint; British coins and tokens, the Droz collar (on loan).


Library: Reference library of books, journals and magazines.





Database used: There is no electronic database at present but we would like to create an electronic, publically accessible database of the collection in the future.


Proportion of collection on database: N/A


How much detail in database entries? N/A


Are images incorporated? We intend to include images in records when we set up an electronic database.


Is the database accessible to the public? N/A


Is the database publicly accessible online? What is the URL if so? N/A





Are there permanent numismatic displays? Yes.


Is numismatic material incorporated into more general displays? No.


Is there a facility for temporary exhibitions? Not at the moment but this is something we are looking to develop in the future.


Have there been numismatic exhibitions in the past? If so, what? Not in-house, but items from the collection were loaned to an exhibition ‘Matthew Boulton and the Art of Making Money’ which was held at The Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the University of Birmingham in 2009.



Access to the collection


Is there a study facility? Yes – but this will be developed in the new building. The collection can currently be accessed through pre-booked, supervised archive appointments.


Is equipment (balances, magnifying glasses, etc.) provided? Not at the moment.



Public engagement with numismatic collection


Is there a handling collection? No.


Are numismatic collections used in Education sessions? We do not currently offer education sessions but we would like to improve our public engagement provision in the new building.


Do numismatic collections feature in gallery talks, lectures? Images of some coins feature in lectures but there is scope for this to be developed as our visits tend to concentrate on items from our silver collection at the moment.


Are there other engagement activities based around numismatic collections? Not at the moment.



ID and public enquiries


Does the museum offer a service for identifying objects and other public enquiries? Yes.



Curatorial knowledge


Is there any numismatic expertise in-house? If so, who, and in what areas? Yes – there is a part-time Curator of the  silver collection, coins and library.


Is there access to external expertise? If so, who and in what areas? Yes – on an informal basis with local coin experts.


If there is expertise in-house, is there a willingness/capacity to share that with other museums? We are always happy to share expertise and build up links with other institutions.