In 1898, the Goldsmiths' Company became aware that fake
silverware was being traded by Reuben Lyon of Holborn. When police
raided his premises, over 300 pieces were seized and Lyon was fined
On April 11 the following year at The Old Bailey, London,
Charles Twinam, a silversmith of Latham Street, Holloway was found
guilty of supplying the fakes and sentenced to five years' penal
Police had raided his house to find a large collection of
punches with the initials of various 18th century silversmiths,
including George Smith, John Manby and William Shaw amongst others,
along with items of modern silver punched with these marks. Despite
the evidence, Twinam pleaded not guilty and claimed that the parcel
of punches had been left with him by a "Devonshire man" 14 years
Following the trial, the confiscated goods were melted down and
the resulting bullion used to cover costs. However, some of these
high-quality fakes may still be undiscovered today.
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