Rare Irish silver porridge bowl turns up in Essex
Bowl made in Dublin in 1659 for auction
The IS porringer (€4,600-€7,000)
A humble – and extremely rare – silver porridge bowl made in Dublin “at the time of Oliver Cromwell” has turned up for auction in England. Auctioneers Sworders, of Stansted Mountfitchet in Essex, said the “shallow bowl made in Dublin circa 1659-63” is believed to be “the second oldest known piece of Irish secular plate”. The bowl, 2¾ inches high and 6¼ inches long from handle to handle, is a porringer (used for porridge or stews) and is known as “the IS porringer” on account of its engraved initials. The identity of IS remains a mystery. It will go under the hammer on Wednesday (November 30th) with an estimate of £4,000-£6,000 (€4,600-€7,000). The whereabouts of the IS porringer was unknown for almost 50 years until earlier this year when Sworders was invited to appraise items of silver from the family of an English private collector, Col SL Bibby CBE.
Sworders’ silver specialist Anita Anderson, “with the help of Emer Ní Cheallaigh and Dr Audrey Whitty from the National Museum of Ireland, Goldsmiths’ Hall in London and Irish silver academic Dr Thomas Sinsteden”, was able to piece together its collecting history and, using enlarged photographs, determined that the largely obscured marks were the harp of Dublin and the date letter “B” for 1659/63. However, the maker’s mark has not been identified.
Sworders said it is “one of the rarest pieces of Irish silver ever to come to market”.