Silver dish rings, sometimes called potato rings, are circular stands, made for the purpose of insulating highly varnished tables from hot bowls.
In addition to this, they served as ornamental table centrepieces. The elaborate piercing and chasing served to accentuate their beauty.
Though invented in London in the early 18th century, it was in Ireland that they developed into items of exquisite beauty.
They were used by placing onto the table, and a hot bowl was placed on top.
They are typically between 3.5 and 4 inches high, though both smaller and taller examples are known to exist. Hallmarks tend to be found on the edges, though in some examples they are in the centre sections. In many examples there is a central cartouche for the family crest to be engraved.
The main eras for the production of dish rings were the middle to the end of the 18th century, and the early 20th century.
Georgian era dish rings are of two main styles; initially they were of a free rococo style, often with farmyard or natural decoration. Some have grape vines, cherubs and baccus. Late 18th century dish rings are of neoclassical style, with regular, symmetrical decoration, for example in the pictures below.
In the early 20th century, there was a revival in the popularity of dish rings, and production was high. Typically they are of the earlier, rococo style, though some neoclassical were made too. Occasionally some Celtic influenced dish rings were made too.
In modern times a blue glass lining was often placed inside to best show off the workmanship.
Chinoiserie style was popular in Ireland in the mid-18th century, and many fine examples have survived, for example the William Townsend Coffee Pot discussed in our page on Chinoiserie silver. William Townsend was a contemporary (and presumably a relative) of Charles Townsend, who, in 1772 made a wonderful Chinoiserie style dish ring. In November 2011 this piece sold for over 26,000 pounds sterling.
We were lucky enough to have in stock at one stage a facsimile of this piece, made in Dublin in 1927 by West’s. The decoration is intricate and detailed, and very beautiful.
The first section shows a Chinese man wearing a hat, under a pagoda-style structure. He is dressed finely, possibly a warrior or nobleman.
Moving around the dish ring, there are balustrades supporting the pagoda.
Further around there is another man, similarly dressed, holding a parasol, beside an ornate doorway or window; on the other side of the doorway is a creature with human-like features.
To read more about an interesting dish ring, please click the following link: http://weldons.ie/irish-silver-and-social-history/. To view our current stock of Irish antique dish rings, click here: http://weldons.ie/product-category/antique-irish-silver-2/antique-silver-dish-rings/