Antique Irish Silver Maker’s Marks from A-L
Irish Silver Maker’s Marks
Photographs of Irish silver maker’s marks, first letter from A to L, including some biographical background to each silversmith where possible, in alphabetical order.
Anthony Lefebvre worked in Dublin in the 1730s. He was originally apprenticed to Mary Barrett, one of the few female silversmiths working at the time.
His maker’s mark was a very recognisable AL, with three stars above. It is pictured below. A piece by him would be considered quite a find, and a wonderful addition to any collection.
Benjamin Tait was a prolific Irish silversmith, working at the end of the 18th century. He registered in 1784, and had a workshop near Bride Street, in the south inner city of Dublin.
He made a wide range of items, but specialised in flatware; most commonly his mark will be seen on sugar tongs, spoons, forks, and other tableware.
His maker’s mark was a block capital BT, with a distinctive scalloped edge, though he also used a punch with a BT separated by a dot, and a plain edge.
It is the former we see here, taken from a bright cut sugar tongs. You can see the evidence of an old repair to the right of the mark. Looking even closer (!) at the left hand side of the B, you can also see that there mark was double struck, probably because Tait didn’t think it came out clearly enough the first time.
Charles Leslie was a superb silversmith of Scottish origin. His father, Thomas Leslie, was a silversmith from Edinburgh. It is not known when he moved to Ireland.
Charles worked of Castle Street, according to the street directory of 1752. He was a freeman in 1728, and worked until 1758.
His work is of superb quality, though in many cases he never submitted the pieces to the assay office. Often his pieces will only have a maker’s mark.
One example of his work is this loving cup, made in Dublin in 1746. It is hallmarked near the handle, and features a beautiful crest. As can be seen, his maker’s mark was a CL with a crown above.
Here we can see his marks on a salver, Dublin circa 1736-40. In this case, the salver was not submitted to the assay office, but instead has CL stamped three times.
David King was a superb early silversmith; King Street in Dublin is named after him (the street where the Gaiety Theatre is located)
He was active from 1690 to 1737. In that time he served a period as Master Warden of the Company of Goldsmiths, and was on the Common Council of the City of Dublin. His work is typically of a high quality, plain and simple in design. His maker’s mark is DK with a crown above, though he also used a punch with no crown, and with both plain and scalloped edges. (The only example I can show you is the one with the crown!)
It is seen here, on a basin from 1708/9
The basin is of this form:
Another example is this superb lidded tankard from similar period.
This is the tankard
Edmond Johnson was a silversmith working in the late 19th century and early 20th century, based in the Grafton Street and Wicklow street areas. In 1879 he started restoration work on the Ardagh Chalice and was later given permission to make copies of it and other objects. The replicas were much sought after with Johnson’s own catalogue listing the Chicago (1893), Paris (1900) and Glasgow (1901) expositions among his clients.
He also made the Liam McCarthy Hurling Cup in 1921.
His maker’s mark was an EJ intertwined, as seen below.
Historically, silversmithing was almost exclusively a male profession. In Irish silver, this was also true. However, there was some examples of female silversmiths, some of whom were among the very best in the trade. Generally, a woman became a silversmith though marriage, or being born to a family of silversmiths.
One such case was Elizabeth Bainbridge, a watchmaker. Her mark was EB in a plain silhouette.
Erasmus Cope was a silversmith in Dublin, working in the first half of the 18th century. He was made a freeman in 1707, and worked through until 1748. His work is scarce, but of the highest quality, tending to be simple in style, and of heavy gauge.
He had a few different maker’s marks over the years, including the one seen below, an EC with a star below.
George Moore worked from 1748-84. Moore’s mark was GM, in a lovely scalloped edge surround.
Silversmith George Nagle worked at the end of the eighteenth century.
His mark was a GN in an oval or rectangular outline. This example below is taken from a serving fork, Dublin 1810, which also has a retailer’s mark, for Keanes.
Gustavus Byrne was an Irish silversmith working in Dublin in the 1800s. He worked at Cole Alley, near Castle Street; originally he served as apprentice to Charles Townsend, on of Dublin’s most famous silversmiths.
Byrne’s makers mark was a GB in script, seen here on a snuff box from 1812. Being on the inside of the box has preserved the mark very well for 199 years!
This is another Belfast silversmith, Henry Gardner, who worked from 1805 until 1837. His maker’s mark was a HG, either with or without a dot in-between. This example has no dot.
Hopkins and Hopkins
Most famous for making the Sam Maguire trophy, Hopkins and Hopkins were a silversmiths based at O’Connell Bridge in Dublin. Their maker’s mark was H & H, as seen below. Silver by Hopkins and Hopkins is quite rare, and very collectable.
Isaac D’Olier was from a prominent family of silversmiths, who worked in Dublin in the 18th century. He started working on Cork Hill some time around 1731. He moved to Dame Street at some point, and entered into partnership with his son, also called Isaac, a jeweller.
He had a long career, and was also elected a member of the Common Council of the City of Dublin in 1755.
His maker’s mark was ID, in a slightly oval outline. It is seen here on the handle of a lemon strainer.
Daniel, who worked in the first half of the 18th century, and was a superb maker.
Below is a picture of Jane Daniel’s mark:
James le Bas
James le Bas was a silversmith working in Dublin in the early 19th century. He was a member of a famous family of silversmiths, his father, William, being a silversmith in London, as were his sons, William and Benjamin.
He originally trained in London, working for his father, and moved to Dublin circa 1800. His first workshop was on Great Strand Street in Dublin, until 1809, whereupon he moved to Ship Street, at the side of Dublin Castle. He died in 1845.
His maker’s mark was ILB, with dots between, in a rectangular surround, seen below.
This is the mark of James England, of Michael’s Lane in Dublin. He was active from 1791 until 1815. His mark is IE with a dot inbetween. It is seen here on a grape scissors from 1815.
James Kennedy, a silversmith working in Dublin in the late 18th century, was a master box maker and flatware maker.
One example of his work is this torpedo shaped box, made in Dublin in 1793. Even over 200 years later, it still airtight.
The street directories indicate that he worked on Exchange Street, and Chancery Lane, in Dublin. It is marked on the inside, and is gilded, to protect the silver.
His mark was IK with a dot in between the letters. In this example, the maker’s mark is upside-down with respect to the hallmarks.
James Warren worked from the 1740s until 1789. He worked at Skinner Row up to 1778, and Cork Hill from 1778-82. He served as apprentice to Andrew Goodwin in 1742. He had a number of different maker’s marks over the course of his career, but the one we can show you in this post is J.W, in italics. Taken from candle sconces, it is best to look at both, as the mark is slightly worn. If we comes across examples of his other marks I will post them too!
Although Weldon shares our family name, we have no evidence that he was a relative! James Weldon worked in the 17th century, until his death in 1704. His mark is a JW in italics, and is sometimes mistaken for that of Joseph Walker, who worked at the same time. However the two silversmiths had slightly different marks.
As Weldon’s work is rare, there are not many examples. The one below is from a spoon, made in 1703. It is a JW in script, with the curve of the J looping around to form one of the bars of the W.
John Hamilton worked in Dublin, on Ormonde Quay. (North bank of the Liffey, upstream from the Ha’penny Bridge)
He was a Freeman in 1709, and served two periods as master warden of the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin, in 1710 and 1714. He was elected to the Common Council of the City of Dublin on four occasions between 1714 and 1740. He died in 1751.
His maker’s mark was IH with a dot inbetween, with a crown above. It is seen here.
This is from a large plain bowl, Dublin 1733.
It is also seen on a Beer Jug, similar date. In this case there are no hallmarks, just a rubbed maker’s mark.
John/Jonas Osborne was a George III Irish silversmith, who worked on Garter Court on Castle Street in Dublin, from about 1784 to 1809.
His maker’s mark was a distinctive JO in script, in an oval outline. It is seem below, on a basting spoon from 1792.
John Pittar, a prolific silversmith from the time of George III, worked in several different places over the course of his career, from Bride Street in the centre of Dublin in the 1780s and 1790s, to Windy Harbour (Windy Arbour) from 1815-1825.
His work included a large quantity of flatware, (forks and spoons), and his mark was variously IP with a star in-between the letter, or JP with a dot in-between the letters. A mark of JP in italics is also known.
It is the second of these that we illustrate here, taken from a lovely set of twelve bright cut spoons, circa 1790.
Note that there is no date letter, (a fairly usual occurrence), and that the letters MG are engraved on the underside of the bowl, near the handle. These are the initials of the original owner, and a lovely feature to find!
John Sheils, who worked from 1762-1790, worked on upper Ormonde Quay, and was apprenticed to one of the finest Irish silversmiths, Robert Calderwood.
Sheils’ (also spelt Shiels) maker’s mark was JS with a dot in between. This is slightly unusual for the era, as J was often written as I at that time, and is a nice way of identifying his mark. Is it seen below, from the handle of a soup ladle. Note how the assay marks are crisp and clean, but the maker’s mark is slightly worn. This is normal, as the maker had to stamp his piece himself, whereas the assay office punches were often of a higher quality, and last longer!
John Smyth (Smith) of Dublin worked in the 1820s on Grafton Street, and then moved to Clarendon Street, near to where Brown Thomas car park now stands.
His mark was a JS with a dot in-between. He worked until 1855. Another John Smyth, probably his son, continued working as a silversmith; his mark was a very similar J.S; the quickest way to tell them apart one would be to look at the date of the piece in question.
Smyth jr.’s mark is seen below, on an oil stock from 1879. He was quite a proflic and talented maker.
John Pennyfather was a silversmith working in Dublin in the early 18th century. His background was quite interesting; born in Kilkenny in the late seventeenth century, he moved at some point to Limerick, and trained as a silversmith. In 1699 Kilkenny City records note “To pay Mr John Pennifather £7.4.4 due to him for repairing the scabbord of the King’s sword.”
When he moved to Dublin in 1704, he was admitted directly into the Company of Goldsmiths, presumably on the basis that he served seven years as a apprentice in Limerick.
He seems to have had a number of maker’s marks over the years; this example is a JP together in a single motif.
Joseph Jackson worked at Hoey’s Court in Dublin, and was a freeman from 1775-1807. He served as a warden of the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin from 1791-1793.
He was apprenticed to Robert Glanville.
His mark was II with a dot in between. This example is taken from an Adams Style bowl, Dublin 1788.
Joseph Walker was a silversmith working at about the same time as Weldon. He was a freeman from 1690-1722, and served a period as master warden of the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin. He was also elected to Dublin City Council in 1714. His mark was also a JW in script, but the two letters are formed separately, as seen below.