- Summary (about us)
- Mail Order
- Timeline (history of Quicktest)
- History of the Gold & Silver Buyer's Handbook
- The Staff
About us: summary
Contact: 01923 220206 or firstname.lastname@example.org
"If I recommend a product, I'm happy to use it myself.'' Raffi Katz.
QUICKTEST manufactures the QUICKTEST and TROYTEST brands of tester for gold and silver (and other white metals: platinum, Palladium, steel); they are used by every major chain of jewellers and pawnbrokers in the UK, over 650 stores. That is why these testers are regarded as the 'industry standard', they are even used for training at the Birmingham Assay Office.
Raffi is the owner of QUICKTEST, his straight-talking style tells you exactly why a product is good, and if it's not good he tells you that too! He has written the definitive guide, The Gold and Silver Buyer's Handbook (see the reviews ); see his many information articles ( magnifiers, scales, gem testers, UV lights, winders etc).
We have been selling by mail since 1986. We are small enough to be able to follow every order and to know about every product, but large enough to actually stock the items (97% of items are in stock at any one time).
Most mail order companies take items off the shelf then simply put them in a box and post them. We don't do that, we check the goods before dispatch! As a result, our customers rarely have to telephone us because they don't understand how to use the products, and rarely return items because they are faulty or too difficult to use. See our feedback.
Timeline: the history of Quicktest
My name is Raffi Katz, and this is the history of QUICKTEST.
1970s / early 1980s, I worked in a jobbing workshop for jewellery, then a retail jewellers, a watch company and a scrap/bullion company. All of this came in useful for my book, The Gold & Silver Buyer's Handbook. Over this period I frequented some of the early antiques fairs and markets.
Early 1980s, in my spare time I worked at antiques fairs, selling jewellers' loupes, weighing machines (in those days it was spring balances) and Troytest acid testers for gold and silver. These were also the early days of selling by mail, I placed an advert it Exchange & Mart, I had a mailing list that grew to several dozen, and I was sending out 2 or 3 parcels per week. I used an accommodation address near my full-time work, in Covent Garden, London.
1986. In addition to selling loupes and balances, I produced the first QUICKTEST acid tester, made in a portable fume cupboard set up in my mum's kitchen (presumably I thought it too dangerous to handle the chemicals in my flat). These were the days, long ago, when you could actually buy chemicals from a local chemist shop. I continued to sell the Troytest brand of precious metal acid testers.
However, my main project, at this time, was the development of the very first miniature digital weighing machine for gold. This was six years before the first mass-produced balance, made by the Japanese company TANITA. After a few months I ran out of money for research and development and the project folded - but I do still have the prototype and it still works well. The project left me with a detailed knowledge of how weighing and weighing machines work.
1986. The first edition of The Gold & Silver Buyer's Handbook
Late 1980s. I was still working from home, but the flat was too small to store the stock, so I borrowed space in a friend's storeroom in Hendon, North London (which I briefly used as an address for QUICKTEST). But I needed a local address for mail order customers, so I got myself a box number: QUICKTEST, PO BOX 180, WATFORD.
I was working at two or three antiques fairs per week, from Devon to Kent to Staffordshire to Southern Scotland. With the collapse of the Soviet Union I started dealing in night vision equipment and other military optics, first as it came out of the Russian military bases in Eastern Europe, then directly from a factory in Russia.
1988. Second edition of The Gold & Silver Buyer's Handbook, with a third edition in 1993.
I also took to writing for the antiques press, with two regular columns for the Antiques Dealer newspaper (a humorous column, and a serious column about the antiques fairs) - this lasted for six years and greatly subsidised the small antiques business and the small mail order business. I employed a part-time packer.
1990s. I moved the business out of home and into an industrial unit in West Watford. I decided, for the sake of continuity, to keep the P.O. box number as the address. Several part-timers worked for Quicktest, both in the office and at the fairs. Then the antiques fairs went into decline, and I lost my job as a columnist (apparently, six years is a good run for a columnist!)
We had now become a 'proper' mail order company, sending the parcels out on contract with Royal Mail (I think the minimum quantity at that time was 3000 per year).
Early 2000s. We moved three times, each time into slightly larger premises, my dad worked for me part time; then he died suddenly; Chris took his place, and soon became full-time. It was hard work with just two of us processing and packing orders, writing and producing mail order catalogues, maintaining a website, and I was still working at some antiques fairs and writing some newspaper articles. Chris left and a succession of part-timers helped out.
2006.Chris came back to work on Sundays, helping mix and bottle the acids in the laboratory.
2007. Mac takes control of the warehouse and dispatch.
2008. We bought our competitor Troytest (the founder, L T W Hansen invented the tester in 1949), and we supplied Troytest and Quicktest precious metal testers to most jewellery wholesalers in the U.K.
2010. We took over the warehouse next door.
2019. We now had three permanent staff, two 'casuals', two freelancers and also three students helping in the holidays.
2020. We survived covid.
2021. New web site. We win a Gold Trusted Service Award for the FEEFO feedback service.
The history of The Gold & Silver Buyer's Handbook
To see its contents and also some rather good reviews click here.
In the 1970s I worked in a jewellers shop just off London's Leicester Square, the main business being scrap and bullion, medals and coins. From my very first days I started gathering 'data' on gold, coins and medallions, and by about 1979 this had, in my mind, transformed itself from pages of charts to a book.
I have an un-dated copy of my 'original idea', called Is it Gold? Is it Silver? and dates from about 1981. It's a hand-folded 36-page booklet, photocopied from originals, typed (by me) on a manual typewriter, and illustrated by cartoonist Phil Davis. If you have one of these, it's rare, I could only have produced a few dozen.
It seemed, to me, that this could be developed into a proper book, and I set about finding myself an agent to sell it. Literary agents (in the days before the internet) were nearly impossible to find, they hid themselves from the many would-be writers who were liable to walk into their office un-announced - but I found one, Serafina. Now, thirty years later, I notice that not much has changed, Serafina's website states that they are "not currently accepting unsolicited submissions" and that anyone emailing a submission will probably not receive a reply.
Serafina said the book looked interesting enough for her to research, but warned me that there were probably many similar books, in which case she would not be interested.
A few months later (these things take time!) she reported back. My book was, indeed, unique, and she was happy to take it on. A few months later she found a publisher, my book was to be the third on the list (a new 'imprint'). A few months later the publisher was bought out by a larger company...who 'dropped' the entire imprint, thus 'killing' my book and the others on the list.
I decided to publish it myself.
I know, from the ISBN number, that the first edition was in 1986. I've found my own archive copy, and to my amazement it is home-made, photocopied from my own typing, probably on an electric typewriter, with a plain card cover. It has 64 pages. A similar copy has an introduction dated December 1986 and a glossy cover, I take this to be a reprint of the original, with some amendments.
The second edition is dated 1987 and, again, there are two versions with two different covers and slightly different page formats, it looks as if I progressed from a typewriter to a computer printer, they still look 'home made' but at least they are properly trimmed.
The third edition is dated 1988, professionally printed and bound, 96 pages.
There was then a slight pause, probably because I had printed a couple of thousand books and wanted to sell them before updating the book.
We are now on the fourth edition, 2011, 184 pages.
The Gold & Silver Buyer's Handbook is a proper book, not (as you will see on the internet) a booklet telling you how to 'get rich quick' by buying and selling gold, To see its contents and also some rather good reviews click here.
Here is a guide to the staff, and also a guide to who you might wish to speak to on the phone.
Raffi (that's me): founder of Quicktest, designer of this website, writer of articles and catalogues, I know most things about the products and most things-technical. I rarely answer the phone.
Sandra: administrator. In charge of orders from wholesalers and the big chains of stores, very good at troubleshooting, knows about most products and all suppliers, very good on the telephone.
If you own (or buy for) more than ten stores, ask Sandra about our 'call-off' system, you send us a weekly spreadsheet, we send the orders out to the stores, no need for you to get 'accounts' to authorise each order.
Diana: in charge of warehouse, production and returns; does order processing for retail orders (including most telephone orders); good at general enquiries, very good on the telephone.
If you have a query about a dispatch or about a returned item; if you need advice about stock or delivery times, then Diana is your person.
Lesley and Andy: picking and packing, very good at preparing bulk orders. They might answer the phone if nobody else is available.
Amy, Spencer, Megan and Jacob: they work hard in the background preparing orders and helping with general office work. They are unlikely to answer the phone.
Chris: works in the lab, on Sundays (you might get to speak to him if you phone on a Sunday).
- Karen (bookkeeping), complicated accounts queries must wait for Karen, please allow a few days for a reply.
- Phil (marketing), if you think you need to speak to Phil, I will ask him if wants to speak to you.
- Stephen (computer), if you really think there's a problem with our server, (website access) I will ask Stephen.