The first Irish silver hallmark dates back to 1637, when King Charles I set official rules for silver produced in Ireland. The first mark was a crowned harp, symbol of Dublin.
From 1638, a date letter was introduced in addition to the city and maker’s mark, followed in 1730 by the duty mark “Hibernia”.
Irish and Scottish silver appeal to collectors not only for historical and artistic reasons, but also because early items produced in Ireland and Scotland (in particular in Provincial towns) are extremely rare and sought after.
The Huguenot silversmiths who fled to Ireland brought new ideas and tendencies, and the plain domestic silverware produced in the first half of 18th century became more and more decorative with the advent of the Rococo style.
In the 18th century all Irish silver should have been sent to Dublin for testing, but this was not always possible. Silversmiths operating in Provincial cities such as Cork and Limerick rarely sent the pieces to Dublin to be assayed, and adopted their specific set of marks, repeating the maker’s mark and adding the word “STERLING”.