The enamel collection consists mainly of French and English pieces, with a small number of Irish, Spanish, Russian, Norwegian and German examples. It ranges from 13th-Century Limoges to 18th-Century Battersea to 20th-Century neo-Celtic. It contains examples of the different types of enamelling (champlevé, cloisonné and painted) and includes religious plaques, snuff boxes, patch boxes and cutlery. As in the case of the brass and bronze collections, enamel was acquired for its artistic and aesthetic merits and as an example of high quality craftwork.
The earliest references to the making of pewter in Ireland date to the 14th Century, but no Irish-made wares survive any earlier than the 1600s. During this period there are references to pewterers, not only in Dublin but also in Cork, Galway, Kinsale, Youghal and Clonmel. A system of marking and quality control developed, rather similar to the hallmarking employed by silversmiths. Chalices, tableware, cups, mugs, beer pots and tankards were produced, some copying contemporary English and European styles, some with distinctively Irish characteristics. Measures were also much in demand, especially in shops and taverns and following the introduction of Imperial measure in 1826 the capacity marking of measures and drinking vessels became compulsory. The vessel regarded as being most distinctively Irish was the ‘haystack’ measure, developed around the end of the 18th Century, which became particularly associated with the Cork firm of Joseph Austen.
The introduction of electroplated ware and the increasing use of glass in hotels and taverns led to the gradual decline in the employment of pewter, although it did continue in use into the 20th Century.
The collection contains examples, not only of Irish-made pieces, but also of English and European pewter, ranging in date from the 17th to the end of the 19th Century.
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