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    Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

    Irish silver sold particularly well at Sotheby’s Mansion – Private Collection sale in London on April 28. A set of four George III Irish silver wine coolers by Thomas Johnston Dublin 1795 sold for £50,000 over an estimate of £25,000-35,000.  Two fine matching Irish George II silver cups sold for £35,000 , within the estimate of £30,000-50,000. One was by Robert Calderwood and both were made in Dublin in 1736 and 1739.

    A set of four George III Irish silver wine coolers, Thomas Johnston, Dublin, 1795 sold for £50,000.

    A set of four George III Irish silver wine coolers, Thomas Johnston, Dublin, 1795 sold for £50,000.

     Two fine matching Irish George II silver cups and covers, one Robert Calderwood, both Dublin, 1736 and 1739 sold for £35,000.

    Two fine matching Irish George II silver cups and covers, one Robert Calderwood, both Dublin, 1736 and 1739 sold for £35,000.


    Friday, April 17th, 2015
    Later chased Dublin George I 1714 teapot no maker's mark.

    Later chased Dublin George I 1714 teapot no maker’s mark.

    Buyers of more valuable pieces of Irish silver ought to be aware of a trick used by light fingered scammers. It revolves around the perfectly legal practice of de-chasing.  In Victorian times repousse (embossed) decoration was fashionable. The Victorians chased older pieces – such as a plain, classical Queen Anne piece, in pursuit of fashion. Why?  Because it was cheaper to decorate an existing piece than get a new one made. Consequently the integrity of the piece was devalued.

    The very small supply of Irish silver creates a constant hunt by international dealers to find later chased pieces and dechase them.  This practice adds huge value of perhaps up to ten times the original cost. International standards dictate that when a piece is dechased it has to be labelled as such. These pieces are not permitted to be offered for sale at top international antique fairs.  Sadly this practice has not been enforced in Ireland. Buyers of significant plain pre 1750 Irish  pieces do need to be aware that collectibles like bullet shaped teapots, bowls, beer jugs and coffee pots may have been dechased and not labelled as such.

     Later chased Cork George II inverted pear shape teapot by George Hodder 1745

    Later chased Cork George II inverted pear shape teapot by George Hodder 1745

    It is profitable for the unscrupulous to do this when silver work is early and has good hallmarks. Dechasing can degenerate into downright deception when crests, weights and shapes are changed. It is illegal to add a new piece of silver such as a spout without having the new addition hallmarked.  One Irish silver dealer, outraged at the practice, said that anyone with any doubts about a piece should have it vetted by the English plate committee as they possess the experience and knowledge to detect alterations. The vast majority of dechasing is carried out by British silversmiths. 
    Sadly in the world of antiques, art and collectibles anything valuable will have been forged, imitated and copied.  The difference between restoration and re-construction is blurred and causes problems in in many fields. The old adage “caveat emptor” – buyer beware – always applies. Examples of the sort of silver which might be dechased are illustrated.

     Later chased Dublin Geo II Coffee Pot by William Williamson 1745.

    Later chased Dublin Geo II Coffee Pot by William Williamson 1745.

    Large Cork George III Later chased Cup by John Whitney 1780

    Large Cork George III Later chased Cup by John Whitney 1780


    Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

    Irish silver exhibited at the Museum of Fine Art in Boston in 1963 is to come under the hammer at Bonhams in London on November 23.  It is being sold to benefit Milton Academy, the school in Massachusetts attended by Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy, the  Anglo American poet T.S. Eliot and the singer–songwriter James Taylor.

    The silver  was shown as part of the Eire Society of Silver display in Boston. Among the most important items are a George II mug, by Mark Fallon of Galway (£12,000-15,000); a set of four George II candlesticks from 1750 by Robert Calderwood, previously in the collection of Earl Fitzwilliam (£6,000-8,000) and  a Queen Anne two handled cup, Limerick 1707 (£4,000-5,000). The sale also includes a gold Freedom Box (£20,000-30,000) presented by the Corporation of Limerick to the Earl of Carrick.

    Milton Academy has been rated by the Wall Street Journal as one of the top 25 schools in the world for preparing students for university and is traditionally seen as a feeder school for Harvard. The Kennedys were students here during the 1940s. The silver was given to the Academy and they have been permitted to sell it to raise funds.

    A set of four George II Irish silver candlesticks £6,000-8,000. (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: THEY MADE £12,500.

    A George II Irish silver mug, by Mark Fallon of Galway £12,000-15,000. (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: THIS SOLD FOR £15,000.

    A Queen Anne Silver two handled cup by James Robinson of Limerick, circa 1707 - £4,000-5,000. (Click on image to enlarge). UPDATE: IT MADE £13,125.

    A Gold Freedom box, possibly by Samuel Reynolds £20,000-30,000. (Click on image to enlarge), UPDATE: THIS MADE £25,000.


    Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

    George II sauceboats and other silver at Bonhams. (click to enlarge)

    Irish silver locked away in the vaults of the Bank of Ireland for the past 50 years comes up for sale at  Bonhams in London on June 22.  It is from the collection of Dr F S Bourke who lived in Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin and practised at Dr. Steeven’s Hospital.

    Bonhams silver sale on June 22. (click on image to enlarge)

    It was put together with the help of his close friend, the celebrated silver authority, Dudley Westropp.

    On his death in 1961 the collection was stored in the vaults of the Bank of Ireland. Some items retain original shops labels or have notes written by Dr. Bourke or Mr. Westropp.  It is expected to bring in between £36,000-46,000.
    Highlights include a pair of George II Irish silver sauce boats (£4,000-5,000) a rare 18th century Irish silver saffron teapot and an 18th century Irish Provincial silver cream jug.
    The collection is being sold by Dr. Bourke’s grandson.
    UPDATE:  The pair of Irish silver sauce boats did not sell.


    Friday, February 25th, 2011

    The Limerick Silver bowl by John Robinson.

    A Limerick silver bowl by John Robinson, made c1735 and stamped with the Arms of Molloy sold for 20,000 after the inaugural sale at Limerick Auction Rooms.  The highlight of this first sale in Limerick, which up to now has not had its own auction rooms, was a collection of Provincial Irish silver.

    There was some disappointment during the sale when the main pieces, a rare Queen Anne Kinsale cup circa 1710 by J&W Wall and the Limerick bowl failed to find buyers.  The bowl was estimated at 20,00-25,000, the cup at 40,000-50,000.  The Kinsale silver had attracted interest from around the country and the auctioneers even had an active bidder from a Boston museum.  It is now under active negotiation. A Limerick silver serving spoon by Patrick Connell sold for 1,000.  The bowl was bought by a private collector in Kildare with Limerick connections.
    The Limerick sale demonstrated considerable local interest.  It also underlines how potential collectors need to accustom themselves to buying at auction. There were large numbers at the viewing and the sale. Buyers were hesitant during the auction.  This changed afterwards.  The organisers were busy with buyers for several hours after the auction ended and a further 30 lots sold on the day after the sale.
    See post for February 14.


    Thursday, February 24th, 2011

    This Republican Silver strawberry dish will feature at Woodwards auction on April 6. (click to enlarge)

    A Cork Republican Silver strawberry dish is to be the centrepiece of  the Woodwards spring auction on April 6.  The rarity of Cork Republican Silver is such that only about 60 to 80 pieces are thought to have been made.

    All were fashioned during the Irish Civil War period from July to September 1922.  The Irish Civil War was raging and communication between the cities of Cork and Dublin was cut off.  Cork was held by Republicans, Dublin by the Free State troops.

    The Republican Silver mark.

    Unable to send their silver to the Assay Office in Dublin yet determined to keep their silversmiths employed the venerable Cork firm of William Egan and Sons made their own stamp  The firm had marks engraved, one a castle and the other a ship.  It was not unlike the marks used by Cork silversmiths in the 17th and 18th centuries and not too dissimilar to the Coat of Arms of the City of Cork.
    Silver made at this time in Cork was stamped with these marks and the initials of the firm, “WE”. When the situation became more normal and communications were restored Egans destroyed the Republican marks.
    Woodwards will offer a Republic Silver strawberry dish, with the sides fluted in thirteen panels with wavy rims, bearing these Republican marks.  The dish is eight and a quarter inches in diameter and weighs ten ounces.  It is estimated to make 15,000-20,000 euro.
    UPDATE:  It was bid up to 9,500, now under negotiation.


    Monday, February 14th, 2011

    This Limerick silver bowl comes up for auction at Hamptons in Limerick on February 23. UPDATE: IT WAS UNSOLD AT THE AUCTION BUT NEGOTIATIONS AFTERWARDS RESULTED IN ITS SALE FOR 20,000.

    An extremely rare plain

    The Kinsale Cup on offer at Hamptons in Limerick. UPDATE: IT WAS UNSOLD BUT NEGOTIATIONS ARE ONGOING

    silver bowl in Limerick silver features at the inaugural sale at Hamptons in Limerick on February 23.  It is one of a number of precious and highly collectable silver items in this sale.

    It is estimated that the ratio of Limerick pieces to Dublin silver is around one in 100.  The rarity, scarcity and quality of Irish Provincial silver  is one reason why it excites such interest among silver collectors.  This bowl, made by John Robinson c1735, is plainly stamped with the Arms of Molloy.  It is estimated at 20,000-25,000.
    The sale of 440 lots features a rare Queen Anne Kinsale cup circa 1710 by J&W Wall.  The organisers say it is the heaviest and most important piece of Kinsale silver ever on the open market. The estimate for this remarkable piece is 40,000-50,000.
    There is also a Limerick marrow scoop by Joseph Johns c1750 and a Limerick bright cut skewer by Connell overstruck by William Ward.  It is estimated at 4,500-5,500. Altogether there are over 30 silver lots in a sale which features furniture, art, jewellery and collectables.
    Hamptons Limerick Auction Rooms is at Garryglass Industrial Estate, Ballysimon Road, Limerick on exit 29 off the M7.