Row 15

Silver

The Museum’s collection consists largely of Irish and English hallmarked silver, ranging in date from the 17th Century to the present. It also includes a small number of European pieces, acquired mainly between c.1890 and 1910 as examples of design and craftsmanship. The core of the collection dates to the period c.1700 – 1850 and includes religious, domestic and ceremonial objects. It is an important collection, not only in terms of style and design, but also in the context of social and economic history. It provides us with an insight into the world of the social classes who used silver, how they lived, what they ate and drank, how they showed off their wealth.

Since the majority of the pieces are hallmarked, struck with special marks indicating the quality of silver, initials of maker and place and year of manufacture, it is generally easy to assign very precise dates to silver objects. This is particularly true of Dublin, London, Birmingham, Sheffield and the larger cities with official assay offices. Smaller centres, such as Cork, Galway and Limerick, as well as numerous English provincial towns, used a variety of town marks, initials and symbols. These fulfilled essentially the same function as hallmarks but the absence of date-letters makes it more difficult to date material from these towns.

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