Irish silver ladle shines in London

A rare Irish provincial silver ladle with a current scrap value of around £100 sold for £3,125 in London on October 19.

Chiswick Auctions sale of Silver & Objects of Vertu included a 6 ozt ‘hook end’ soup ladle with a scalloped and chased shell bowl made circa 1760 by the Limerick silversmith Samuel Johns. He worked in the city from c.1756- 95 using a maker’s mark comprising his initials SJ flanking a lion rampant, an idiosyncratic feature of Limerick’s silversmiths.

Chiswick Auctions’ silver specialist John Rogers explained the special allure of Irish Georgian silver made outside Dublin. “Irish provincial silver is a well sought-after field. Dublin is the usual, Cork is scarce, then there is a big jump in rarity for Limerick items. Thereafter silver made in Galway, Youghal and Kinsale is so unbelievably rare it is almost mythical.”

For reasons of security and to save on duty, relatively little silver made in the Ireland’s regional towns and cities was sent to Dublin for official assay. Instead, local silversmiths stamped their own wares with a maker’s mark and the word Sterling, or occasionally a town mark. The appeal of Irish provincial silver lies primarily in the rarity, but it can also have a distinctive vernacular style that collectors admire such as the bold rococo flat chasing found on the handle of this ladle.

Previously at Chiswick Auctions a tiny set of toys teaspoons from Limerick by Johnathan Buck, which at a minuscule 0.29 ozt, made £3000.