‘Extremely rare’ Limerick silver soup ladle in Weldon’s August sale

The implement, which is almost 275 years old, is the work of renowned silversmith George Moore

While there’s no doubt the most important piece of silver currently in the county of Limerick is the Liam McCarthy Cup after their magnificent win last weekend, all eyes at John Weldon’s upcoming sale will be on an important piece of Limerick silver dating from 1750. The “extremely rare” Irish provincial crested silver soup ladle by George Moore is expected to fetch €4,000-€6,000 in Weldon’s sale in Temple Bar on August 1st.

Though evidence shows that goldsmiths plied their trade in the Treaty County all the way back to 700BC, it is generally accepted that the earliest piece of silver from the county is the Askeaton chalice from 1663.

By 1637 all silver in Ireland was required to go to Dublin for testing and hallmarking under the Royal Charter of Charles I. But back then besides the long distance, theft by highwaymen was rampant, and little of the silver produced in Limerick made it do Dublin to be hallmarked. This, coupled with the fact that in 1730 a tax of 6d an ounce on gold and silver was introduced, gave another – albeit illegal – excuse not to send silver to Dublin. The silversmiths’ market was their local city, where they were trusted by their clientele, so it negated the need for a Dublin hallmark. This is what makes provincial silver so interesting.

This piece is the first Limerick silver soup ladle auctioneer John Weldon has come across in his 20 years of dealing: “We have had ones made in Cork and plenty made in Dublin, but we’ve never had a Limerick one. While I was doing some research I found one which sold in Adam’s in 2017 that made €5,500 – so it will be interesting to see how this one goes”.


Curiously the ladle is marked with the word Starling (instead of Sterling) but Weldon says he is unsure as to why this is the case, but suggests that it may have been misspelt – which makes it more interesting again. “You must remember they were nor working under electric lights and reading and writing wasn’t needed for everyone, so could Starling and Sterling have been mixed up? Quite possibly.”

George Moore, of Quay Lane (when registered in 1784), became a freeman of Limerick on September 9th, 1748, and is recognised as one of Limerick’s foremost silversmiths.

Weldon’s sale of near 500 lots includes diamond rings: a fine oval diamond (1.90cts) at €4,000-€6,000; a halo style with 1.64ct stone, which comes with a valuation certificate from Bobby Satin Jewellers in New York estimating its value at $20,000. Weldon expects it to achieve €3,000-€5,000.

In watches, the sale lists an 18ct gold Rolex Yachtmaster, with box and papers (€10,000-€12,000) and a ladies diamond-set two tone Rolex – also boxed at €3,500-€4,000.

Three Breitling watches are on offer: an Avenger II Seawolf, with box and papers (€2,500-€3,500); a Transocean chronograph 38, boxed with papers, though it needs a new crown, so is expected to achieve about €1,000-€1,500; and a gentleman’s wrist watch at €1,600-€1,900. jwa.ie

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle

Elizabeth Birdthistle, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about property, fine arts, antiques and collectables