€17,000 for a jug? It has to be Limerick silver

Rare 18th-century piece among silver, jewellery and art at November antiques fair


More than 100 dealers will bring the best of their stock to the South Court Hotel in Limerick for the National Art & Antique Fair on November 10th and 11th.  

 “Every inch of the hotel will be full of antiques of every description, from top end to collectibles,” says Robin O’Donnell of Hibernian Antique Fairs. “Antique furniture, Irish art, jewellery and silver, porcelain and china, books, coins and banknotes, clocks, vintage fashion and accessories – you name it, it will be here.”

 One dealer who is taking part for the first time this year, bringing a selection of jewellery and silver, is Joy Danker of Danker Antiques, of Duke Street in Dublin. “I’ve only ever heard very good reports of the Limerick fair, so we signed up for it this year,” she says. “At these fairs you can buy things for small money or very big money. You never know what people will buy. You can be chatting with somebody for five minutes and you find out that they happen to have an interest in something bizarre – and you happen to have something that just fits that bill, and they end up buying it.”

 Also bringing jewellery and silver from Dublin is Jimmy Weldon from JW Weldon of Clarendon Street, who is very familiar with the journey down the N7.  “We’ve been doing the Limerick fair for 20 years or so,” he says. “We bring a range of interesting items, because it’s an exhibition as well, in a way. You get lots of collectors from Limerick and Cork coming to the fair and people enjoy looking, even if they’re not buying.”

 Weldon is famed for his expertise in Irish provincial silver from the Georgian period, so people expect him to have some very special objects on his stand. Two jugs certainly fit into that category. One is the earliest recorded Limerick cream jug; the other a beer jug which was made for the Archbishop of Cashel.

“The cream jug is by Joseph Johns, who was lord mayor of Limerick,” he says. “I’ve had a few of these in my time, but they’re very rare. It has a little rim foot, and that indicates that it was made between 1737 and 1740.” 

 An “ordinary” Limerick silver cream jug from the 18th century would be worth between €10,000 and €14,000, but thanks to its early date and immaculate condition, this one has a price tag of €17,000.

As for the archbishop’s beer jug, made in 1729 for Timothy Goodwin, an English churchman who came to Ireland with the Duke of Shrewsbury, in 1713, it’s priced at a cool €45,000. “It was made by John Hamilton of Dublin, who around the same period made the silver which was placed in the cornerstone of the Bank of Ireland building on College Green in Dublin for good luck,” Weldon says.

 Another rare object at Weldon’s stand will be a tiny William III dram cup, made in 1699 by Alexander Sinclair, who is recorded as having fought in the Battle of the Boyne. The dram cup is priced at €5,000.

A Victorian pearl and turquoise six-pointed star, which can be worn as a pendant or a brooch, is €950
A Victorian pearl and turquoise six-pointed star, which can be worn as a pendant or a brooch, is €950


Weldon’s will also be bringing a wide range of jewellery to Limerick including diamond and sapphire rings, earrings and bracelets. A Victorian pearl and turquoise six-pointed star, which can be worn as a pendant or a brooch, is €950.  Joy Danker is also bringing a diverse selection of silver and jewellery which includes a Colombian emerald ring set in 18-carat yellow gold with trefoil diamonds to each shoulder, €8,500, and a Victorian silver-gilt Celtic brooch, €1,250. 

Emerald and diamond ring, €8,500 from Danker
Emerald and diamond ring, €8,500 from Danker

“These are getting harder to find, because there was very little Irish jewellery ever made,” she says. “We used to sell them only to Americans, but now Irish people are very interested in them. This one was made in 1890 by West and Son, and it’s in its original case.

Claret jug, €3,250 from Danker
Claret jug, €3,250 from Danker

“I’ve also got a smashing claret jug. Though it was made by Edward Hutton in 1882, it has a streamlined, almost art deco look; the glass is plain, with just a little bit of etching in Greek key design, and the mounts and handle are silver, with beaded decoration.” The jug is priced at €3,250.

National Antique & Art Fair, South Court Hotel, Limerick. Saturday, November 10th and Sunday. November 11th, 11am-6pm both days. Admission €5 (includes raffle), children free, parking free.