The scourge of scrap metal theft has opened a window of opportunity for Birmingham’s creative talent to design a replacement historic plaque for a building in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter.
A specially-commissioned plaque was taken from the entrance to Birmingham’s Assay Office during a brazen theft in the early hours of the morning in April this year.
The theft of the plaque took place over a weekend but was only discovered the following Monday, just hours before the Lord Mayor of Birmingham Coun Anita Ward was due to visit for a special tour.
Birmingham Assay Office is the largest in the UK, hallmarking millions of articles of precious metals every year and has been a centre of expert opinion and independent assessment of jewellery and precious metals for almost 250 years.
The distinctive sterling silver plaque was hallmarked in 1977 and had the Queen’s Silver Jubilee insignia and the letter C to identify its date. The Assay Office lettering was 18ct gold and it had a raised silver border.
It was originally hoped it might be retrieved, particularly as there was CCTV of the theft which showed a gang of thieves jumping over the building’s security gates and using a crowbar-like implement to prize the plaque from the wall, but the stolen plaque has never been found.
Designers are now being given free rein with their ideas for a silver plaque to replace the stolen one and due to the generosity of a local benefactor they are being given the chance to create something special.