Antique Cork Silversmiths
As most Antique Cork items do not bear offical assay office marks, they cannot be called “silver”. In the 18th century, it was impractical to send items all the way to Dublin for hallmarking, and the city of Cork was never given its own assay office, despite repeated requests. To overcome this, Cork silversmiths took to stamping their own wares, usually with the word “Sterling”. Tests have been carried out of some items from the 18th century, and the level of fineness of silver was over 90%, but sometimes fell below the sterling silver requirement of 92.5%. However, the unusual history of Cork items lends a charm and attractiveness to the story, and the craft and skill of manufacture is the equal of any other city in the islands.
Here are some Cork silversmith’s marks, in alphabetical order of the first name.
Carden Terry was born in 1742, to a notable Cork family. He was apprenticed in 1758, and registered in 1785.
His early work bore the mark CT, usually with the word STERLING. Though technically not a hallmark, this in normal for provincial Irish items.
In 1791, his daughter Jane married John Williams. Terry and his son-in-law worked together from 1795 until John’s death in 1806. After this, Jane continued working with her father, until his death in 1821.
Father and daughter used the mark CT over IW, as seen below
The second is Daniel MacCarthy, whose mark is DMC.
This is John Irish, whose mark is II with a star in-between.
John Warner worked on North Main Street in the 1770s and 1780s.
His maker’s mark was IW with a dot in-between. There exists also a similar mark incuse (indented).
Below is a mark from a marrow scoop, circa 1780 by John Warner.
Richard Garde was a silversmith working in Cork in the 19th century. He is recorded as being at 18 Broad Lane in 1824.
His maker’s mark was RG in capitals, with a dot between, see below.
William Bennett was active in Cork from 1722-1758. His maker’s mark was a very simple one, WB, in an oval surround, and occurs both with and without a star in-between the letters. Walter Burnett of Cork had a very similar mark, but the surround is a different shape.
This example is from the base of a two handled loving cup, circa 1740.
William Egan silversmiths of Cork are among the most famous silvermiths in the modern era. They were based in Cork city centre.
Egan silver is beautiful, well made, and very collectable. It is scarce without being impossible to find, and a great way to start a collection. They also have an interesting history, particularly concerning Republican silver (made during the Civil War), of which very few pieces survive!
We get pieces of Egan silver into stock from time to time, and are always delighted to help to build up your collection!