Online Encyclopedia of Silver Marks, Hallmarks & Makers' Marks
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Charles Twinam ~ 1899

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The Trial of Charles Twinam, Silversmith
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Crime of Antiques Forgery, Hallmark Deception
The Old Bailey ~ London ~ 11th April, 1899
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Charles Twinam, silversmith aged 54, was indicted for unlawfully having in his possession instruments for stamping gold, with intent to defraud.


Mr. Gill and Mr. Bodkin Prosecuted, and Mr. Hutton Defended.

HERBERT WILLIAM ROBINSON - I am chief officer of the Goldsmiths' Company at the Assay Office. Articles come to my department to be stamped, which is done by the Company for a few pence for each article, manufacturers of silver have a private mark, which consists of their initials generally, which they register at Goldsmiths' Hall, where the registers go back for about 200 years. The manufacturer's mark is put on by himself with a punch, and then it is brought to Goldsmiths' Hall. These punches, No. 10 & 11, bear the manufacturer's mark, W.L. and S.M. I find on these silver articles a manufacturer's mark, G.F. It is the duty of the Goldsmiths' Company to impress the lion and the leopard's head, those are the distinctive marks of the London Goldsmiths' Hall, and the only other towns are Birmingham, Chester, and Sheffield. It was the custom up to 1890 to impress the duty mark, which was the Sovereign's head. There is also the date of impressing what is called the date letter, it shows when the article was stamped, and is changed every year-the lion, the Leopard, the King's head, and the date letter are impressed by punches:
No. 1 bears the mark of a lion, and I marked this piece of silver (Produced) with it
No. 2 is a smaller lion
No. 3 and 4 are leopard's heads, crowned
No. 5 is the Sovereign's head, George III.-that was the date mark from 1874 to 1890-duty was paid then, but no mark was put
No. 6 is the date letter of 1784
No. 7 is a Roman H. of 1783, the year before
No. 8 is a Roman H and a lion on it
These punches resemble those legitimately used at Goldsmiths' Hall, and are adapted for making those marks-on March 9th, between 8 and 9 a.m., I went with Inspector Morley and other officers to the prisoner's house, 72, Latham Street, Holloway, and took part in searching it-a cup-board in the kitchen on the ground floor was opened by a key-in it was a lot of rubbish, very dirty, and this black box fastened by a padlock which was opened by another key, and inside it were some tin boxes in which were the steel punches produced. I should say that:
No. 8 is an impression taken off the silver on to this metal
No. 9 is a similar piece of metal, made in the same way
No. 10 is a name punch, W. L.
No. 11 a punch, S. M.
No. 12 a name punch, W. B.
No. 13, letter K.
No. 14, a punch, with the prisoner's initials, T. P
No. 15, a leopard's head, crowned
Nos. 16 & 17, a King's head
No. 18, for 1879
No. 19, P for 1870
No. 20, T for another date
No. 21, for 1891
No. 22, W. S. for William Shaw-we found those letters by looking at the registers
No. 23, I cannot give any explanation of the strip of silver
No. 24 is J. E.
Here are others, Nos. 27 to 34, I also found a plate of date marks of the Goldsmiths' Company from 1558 downwards.
Nos. 34 and 35, punches, are both marked G. S., which is on the two silver articles (Produced)-that is the mark of George Smith in 1739
In a bedroom upstairs I found forty or fifty other punches adapted for making similar impressions to those downstairs, but they had not been used for some time. I consider that they had been used. I went into a small lean to shed, and saw on a shelf a number of tools, a punch with a King's head of 1749, and a large quantity of silver plate (Produced).
No. 52 is a cream ewer marked with a lion and leopard's head, a date letter, the head of George I., and G. S., the manufacturer's mark.
Those marks have all been made with the punches I found, they are not genuine marks, but they resemble the marks of the Goldsmiths' Company. The date mark of the Goldsmiths' Company is destroyed every year on May 28th, but the leopard's head and lion punches are kept, no punches can be obtained outside, the wardens see the marks obliterated These silver candlesticks are marked with the lion, the date letter of 1784, the leopard's head, and G. S., the maker's mark, there is no date mark; it would be marked before the statute was passed. Those marks were made by dies found at the prisoner's house, and are not genuine. The nozzle is marked with the lion only, that was the practice at that time, in my opinion this is modern silver, it is quite new work.
No. 68 is a tray, which has a coin let into the bottom of it. It is marked with the lion, the leopard's head, the date letter 1724, and the name mark, corresponding with the punches in the prisoner's possession. The coin let in is one of George III., 1820 - I found in the prisoner's possession a number of coins which had been cast, this is a cast coin, it was never struck at the Mint.
Nos. 79, 80,81 & 82 are four vases marked with the lion, the date, the leopard's head, and the name, the date is 1729. Those are forged marks, and they are on the cover of the vases as well as on the body.
No. 85 is a mustard-pot with a lion; a leopard's head crowned, a date letter, and the manufacturer's initials, W.S. Each of those marks has been placed on the articles by one of the dies found in the house.

(A silver chocolate-pot, a biscuit-jar, two baskets, two trays with coins let in, two shell plates, a mustard-pot, two bundles of teaspoons dated 1804, a silver ewer, a ladle, and a number of other articles, each bearing similar hall marks, were here produced.)

Each of these articles, I should say, are modern silver, and bear forged marks of the dies which I found. Two of the trays have cast coins of George III. let in, and the date mark is 1724, I also found: 19 silver ewers, 4 silver shoes, 8 silver baskets, 2 silver candlesticks, 11 silver salt-cellars, 9 silver castors, 4 silver trays, 222 silver spoons, 41 silver tongs, 72 silver forks, and 11 silver sugar-strainers, each of which bears the mark of the lion and the leopard's head crowned, made by the punches I found. They are not articles of the date which the date letter represents-I am not aware of any models having been taken.
No. 175 is a presentation case of spoons, and tongs which bear genuine marks of the Victorian reign, but the date mark has been obliterated. It is within the last ten years, the date letter has been coopered out, and also from some of the other articles - for some purpose. Among the articles found here are six silver ewers which have no marks on them; they are very similar to all the others and exactly the same pattern as the marked one. I also found this spoon with a stem, but no handle (Produced); the stem has an Irish mark; there would be no difficulty in putting a bowl into it. I also found some ingots of silver and some in scraps, I found no books at all.

HERBERT WILLIAM ROBINSON - My strong opinion is that the marks on the marked silver were made by the punches found. I was with the inspector during the search, a small proportion of the silver was un-worked up, some was worked up, and not marked, only a small proportion of the silver was in the workshop. I am certain the punches had been used, within a year or so, the punches are struck with a hammer. Apart from the marks, I should say the silver was modern; within twenty-five years within the present reign, at all events, technically, modern silver would be within about fifty years. Some silver was marked in the ordinary way, I have compared the punches with the silver found, if the punches had not been used for ten years the tops would not be so bright from the hammer marks. I can say with certainty that one or two of the punches have been used within the last two or three years. There is nothing unusual in the possession of the date cards, the prisoner's was an ordinary silversmith's workshop. One punch had a king's head, probably of George III., the imitations were good for the purpose for which they were used, they would deceive a fairly experienced person. The spoons are Victorian, I fancy I can trace the letter M, partly obliterated-that would indicate five years back. A good deal of silver is sold by dealers who travel about the country.

HERBERT WILLIAM ROBINSON - Some of the punches had oil on them, the oil was moist.


JAMES MORTIMER GARRARD - I am a gold and silver-smith, of 25 Haymarket, I have had fifty years' experience, I have a thorough practical knowledge of the business. I served my apprenticeship at the work bench, I am familiar with every branch. I have examined the silver produced, it is decidedly recent, I have no doubt about it. Some of it had been made within the last two months; in fact, some of the partly finished articles have what we call the oil tarnish on them which comes from the buff.

Cross examined
JAMES MORTIMER GARRARD - I do not disagree with Mr. Robinson, but I go further as a practical workman, and say the age of the silver is reducible to months, and not years, because the method used in making and the mode of polishing are modem. I apply that answer to all that is manufactured, and that is marked. I have not examined all the unmarked, as an expert I say this silver is modern, I do not know how you would describe it.

By the court
JAMES MORTIMER GARRARD - This spoon which is marked with the Queen's head is English make, the handle is only cast, not struck, it is rudely made, but it is a good casting. I say the same of the sugar tongs, the two sets are casts, but with a wrought piece which bears the hallmark.


JAMES MORLEY (Police Inspector) - On March 8th I received a warrant to search the prisoner's house. On the morning of the 9th I went to Latham Street, I left other constables to watch and followed the defendant as he left the house. I said, "Is your name Charles Twinam?", he said, "Yes", I said, "You live at 72, Latham Street?", he said, "Yes". I said I was a police-inspector and held a warrant for his arrest, I handed him over to other officers. I went to 72, Latham Street, the prisoner was brought there immediately after I entered. I read to him the warrant of arrest and the search warrant, I said, "I do not know whether you care to save any trouble; you may tell me if you like where the dies are that are referred to in the warrant", he said, "I know nothing about any dies; I have none". On him I found four keys on two bunches, with one of those keys I opened the kitchen cupboard where the black box was found, the cupboard was dirty, the box looked as if it had been used. I searched upstairs, in one of the cupboards in the front room, which I think was a bedroom, I found a number of articles and some punches. I found £53 in gold and £15 in notes that was given to the prisoner's wife. In the workshop I found the punch (Produced), No. 39. I produce three lists of the property found in, A - the kitchen cupboard, B - on the first floor, and C - in the workshop. The articles were handed over to the officers of the Goldsmiths' Company who were with me. The prisoner was taken to the Police-station, he was charged with having in his possession forged dies and silver wares. I told him I had taken possession of a quantity of manufactured silver and asked him if he wished to explain how it came into his possession. He said he worked for Mr. Purdie of 5 Sun Street, Finsbury. I had referred to a quantity of sheet and bar silver not worked into any pattern.

JAMES MORLEY - I gave evidence at the police-court on March 9th, 17th, and 25th, I was not asked about the condition of the cupboard till March 25th. I answered what I was asked, the question was not asked on my report, it did not escape my memory. The prisoner has lived at 72 Latham Street some twenty years, he has worked at Hatton Garden, I do not know that he worked for Mr. Bowden. His workshop was that of a working silversmith, he said he did a certain amount of overtime. had nothing to say against the district, burglaries would not be likely because every room is occupied. Some of the marked silver was locked in the cupboard upstairs, some in the box, several spoons were in the workshop. There were two keys, each on two rings, one key was for the cupboard, one for the box, and there were two padlocks upstairs on the cupboards.

JAMES MORLEY - Looking at the outside of the house, there was nothing to indicate a silversmith's business.


JAMES MACMAHON - I am a pawnbroker of 27 Seven Sisters Road,. Holloway, I have known the prisoner about twelve years. About four years ago he pledged some silver and antique plate with me of the time of George II. and George III., I lent money on some and some I purchased. I asked him how he became possessed of it, he said he got it from dealers in the country who wanted to dispose of it in London, as being the best market. I sent some to Debenham's Stores, I subsequently received a communication from them that the marks were forged, I withdrew it from the sale. I told the prisoner that I had had an intimation from the Assay Office that the hall-marks were forged, he denied that they were not genuine, the following day he pledged modem silver for £14, and I deducted the amount I gave him for the first set of silver. I returned the antique silver to him, he subsequently redeemed the new silver he had pledged. He has never brought me any silver since then nor had any further transaction with me.

JAMES MACMAHON - I could not sufficiently judge that the marks were not genuine, I thought they were genuine.

Evidence for the Defence

CHARLES TWINAM (The prisoner) - I lived up to the time of my arrest at 72, Latham Street, Holloway, I was fifty-four years of age last December. I was apprenticed to the silversmith's trade, I worked mv way till I started as a master man fifteen years ago. I afterwards became a journeyman, I went into the service of Mr. Higgins, of Newman Street, Oxford Street, and then into the service of Mr. Bowden for nine years. My son served his apprenticeship to Mr. Bowden under me. I went from Mr. Bowden to Messrs. Wakely and Wheeler, of Hatton Garden, where I was employed for five years till I was arrested. During the last ten or twelve years I worked at home in my spare time, this marked silver had been in my house fourteen or fifteen years, I bought it when I was in business at 1, St. James' Walk, Clerkenwell, from a Mr. George Davey, a travelling dealer. I made work for him from the rough, he asked me whether I would buy some antique plate, and I told him yes, he showed me some; I bought it of him and paid him ready money, 8s. an ounce, what I considered it was worth, but I was not much of a judge then. I had then been in business on my own account about six months, I had small experience of hall-marks and took and believed them to be genuine. I told Davey I had not sold any of his plate, and wanted him to take it back; in fact, I had a doubt as to some of it. He said, "It is all right; I am going down home", I took him to be a Devonshire man, he said he was going away for two or three weeks, and I concluded he was going to Devonshire. I said, "Very good"-he said, "I shall be gone two or three weeks; you had better mind this parcel;" and he left a brown paper parcel with me. I said, '* Very good"-he said, "Do not open it;" but I did open it, I took it home, he never returned, I have never seen him since. I kept the parcel four or five months, then I opened it, I saw the punches, I thought it was suspicious, and I put them into the wooden box and locked it up in my cupboard. I put the marked silver which Davey left with me into the box with some hay and straw, so that it should not be bruised, and put it upstairs in the bedroom, in two boxes, some in a big case, and locked them up. I sold one or two articles, I believed they were genuine. I took some to the pawnbrokers, MacMahon sent for me and told me they were not genuine. The unmarked things I made for some manufacturers, I took some silver to pieces to take the patterns. The punches remained in the box, I did not use them.

CHARLES TWINAM - The parcel was left with me about fourteen years ago, I saw the punches were for the lion and the leopard's head, the date mark, the manufacturer's mark, and the duty mark. I never went to the box, I did not oil any of the punches, they were blanks as a rule, some were in the tin box in the bedroom, the blanks were in the workshop. I have bought silver rolls from a number of people, my employers used a similar kind of silver, I did not know that silver was only supplied to one or two firms. I have used his dies, in the trade we frequently do that, some are ordinary patterns. I have sold plate of the date of George II., some to pawnbrokers, some to a man, as a foreign person, who got twelve months, not for being in possession of them, but for casting one hall-mark into other articles, silver would tarnish in fourteen years.


Verdict ~ Guilty

Charles Twinam was sentenced to five years Penal Servitude.

New Court ~ Tuesday, April 11th, 1899
Before Mr. Recorder
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Character Backgrounds and Observations

by Trevor Downes

The Cast:

Charles Twinam - Silversmith and the accused. Born in 1844, after having served his apprenticeship he became a journeyman silversmith. In August 1884, he entered his own mark at Goldsmiths Hall as a plateworker and he had a workshop at 1, St. James Walk, Clerkenwell. It appears that his business was unsuccessful, it lasted just nine months and he soon returned to a situation as a journeyman, this time to Francis Higgins at 9, Newman Street, Oxford Street.

Herbert William Robinson - Assistant to Deputy Warden of the Goldsmith's Company, appointed in 1889, Deputy Warden 1897, he retired in 1925.

James Mortimer Garrard - Captain the Honourable Artillery Company and goldsmith, born in Australia in 1834, died 1900. Apprenticed in 1850, obtained Freedom in 1857, appointed Liveryman in 1860, took control of Garrards the Crown jewellers in 1881, appointed Assistant 1891, 4th Warden 1893, 3rd Warden 1894, 2nd Warden 1895, Prime Warden 1896.

Mr. Justice (William) Grantham - (1835-1911) A former JP, MP and barrister, appointed High Court Judge in 1891.


In 1898 the Goldsmiths Company became aware that spurious silverware was passing through the hands of one Reuben Lyon of 124/125 Holborn, London, his premises were raided by the City of London Police accompanied by Goldsmiths Hall officials, Herbert Robinson, James Field and Henry Adams. Over 300 pieces were seized and the Company using its statutory powers, granted by an Act of Parliament, fined Lyon over £3000, a fortune in those days. It was not however until the following year that a possible culprit for the supply of the fakes was uncovered.
It was in the late 1880’s that Charles Twinam started to do extra work in the workshop he built at his house at 72, Latham Street. In the last few years there had been a sudden interest in antique silver, before then it was just a precious metal to be melted down and made into new objects as the fashion of the time dictated. Now people were appreciating old silver and the skills of the silversmith more than ever before, and perhaps he thought he could help satisfy the demand be creating his own antique items.

A possibility that may have sparked these thoughts was the fact that he had worked for at least three companies that had had long histories. The Francis Higgins company had links back to John Manby, Stephen Adams and George Smith. Edwin Charles Purdie had acquired the business of the Smilys’ that had connections with Thomas Wallis and Adey Bellamy Savory. Wakley and Wheeler were the successors to the Lias family business. Could it be possible that whilst working for these companies, he came across the maker’s mark punches of deceased silversmiths? It may have occurred to him the advantages of completing a full set of stamps, this added with his skills and access probably to patterns still held with these firms was surely a recipe for success, and it appears it was for ten to twelve years until his arrest and appearance at the Old Bailey in 1899. Twinam’s employers stated at the time that he was a good workman but “somewhat given to drink”, his wages were £3 per week, a good income in those days.

Charles Twinam was sentenced to five years penal servitude. The judge, Mr. Justice Grantham in his summing up said "No one who has heard this case could doubt that the prisoner had for years been carrying on this illicit trade, which was a very profitable one".

The result of the trial was a triumph for the Goldsmiths Company; they had worked long and hard to provide a good case, in the past it had often been difficult to obtain enough evidence to persuade a jury to convict. The judge ordered that the confiscated goods be handed over to the company for melting and the resulting bullion used to defray their costs.

The company then printed and issued an eight-page booklet with copies of the forged marks and items from both the Lyon and Twinam cases, this was distributed to 600 outlets for their information. The marks illustrated are of remarkably high quality and many pieces may still be unfound today.
The Whole Proceedings On the King's Commission of the Peace Oyer and Terminer,
and Gaol Delivery for the City of London,
and also the Gaol Delivery for the County of Middlesex and parts of the Counties of Essex, Kent and Surrey within the Jurisdiction of the Central Criminal Court
Held on Monday, April 10th, 1899
and following Days
Related Pages at

British Hallmarks Explained
London Date Letters & Maker's Marks
Birmingham Date Letters & Maker's Marks
Chester Date Letters & Maker's Marks
Exeter Date Letters & Maker's Marks
Newcastle Date Letters & Maker's Marks
Sheffield Date Letters & Maker's Marks
York Date Letters & Maker's Marks
Edinburgh Date Letters & Maker's Marks
Glasgow Date Letters
Dublin Date Letters
British Import Marks

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