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Early production in the 1760s was almost exclusively confined to the die-stamping of knife handles – extremely lightweight and not liable to be assayed – but as the industry developed so did the need for an assay house in Sheffield.

With the York assay office closed, the nearest assay offices were in Chester, London or Newcastle, all an expensive and possibly dangerous stage wagon ride away. In February 1773 Sheffield’s petition to Parliament detailed that 468 persons worked in the town’s Plated and Silver Trade, a 20-fold increase on the number from 30 years before.

The London makers were unhappy and Sheffield (like Birmingham, who made a parallel application under the aegis of Matthew Boulton) did not have city status but Royal Assent was given on May 28 1773.

According to the Sheffield Assay Office Plate Book, the first piece of sterling silver to be hallmarked in Sheffield was a 29oz two-handled pedestal cup and cover by Tudor and Leader – the same chased and embossed vessel with a pineapple finial that appeared on the front cover of Bonhams Leeds catalogue of November 11.

As a piece of Georgian silver it was not exceptional, particularly given a 19th century crest now replaces an original inscription that perhaps referred to the historic moment when it was struck. However, it is an object of obvious historical value and had featured in the 1973 bicentennial exhibition Sheffield Silver 1773-1973 at Sheffield City Museum and more recently (owned by one of the surviving Sheffield silver companies) has been on permanent loan at the Sheffield Millennium Galleries.

Some sort of local institution would have seemed the obvious purchaser of such a piece but none were able to raise a bid and the cup was sold to the London trade at £5100 (estimate £3000-4000).