K712

Edward Boyce (possibly) Irish Sterling Silver Dish Ring, Dublin, 1784, bearing the arms of Cope


This excellent example of Irish Georgian silver features wonderful figural and scenic chased and pierced decoration. Included are a cottage, a maiden curtseying, a gentleman carrying a gun over his shoulder, a tower of a castle, a bird in flight and a windmill on a bridge over a river. All this is interspersed between a landscape of leafed trees growing from an undulating pastoral horizon with a river flowing under the bridge. One single foliate cartouche centering 'c'-scrolls is finely engraved with the arms of Cope. There are several branches of the family to which this may refer.

Dish rings are one of the most sought after Irish silver forms and this romantic pastoral design is the most sought after of Irish decorations. Mistakenly called 'potato rings' by a generation previous of collectors, these dish rings were used like trivets to protect a table from a hot dish or bowl. Hence, the piercing is not only beautiful, but serves the functional purpose of dispersing heat. During the 18th century, the finest homes might use many dish rings at once creating a very grand effect while dining. Most of the dish rings seen on the market today are later revival pieces from the early 20th century.

Marked on both the upper and lower rims, the lower rim bears all appropriate Dublin marks for 1784 while the upper rim bears the Hibernia and Harp Crowned marks for 1787 and later. The maker's mark is poorly struck. We believe it is the registered mark of Edward Boyce (and it fits into his style), but we are conservatively saying 'possibly' by him. It bears a scratch weight of 8 ounces and 14 pennyweight behind the cartouche. Irish silver is often found with less than a full set of marks and it is quite unusual to find a piece with more than a full set. It may be the later marks were in use earlier than commonly believed and this was simply stuck twice, it could be the dish ring went back to be re-assayed a few years later for a number of reasons (e.i. someone questioned the quality of the silver). There is a 220 year old mystery here that we may never solve.

Measuring 7.5 inches in diameter at the base (6.75 at the top) and just over 3.5 inches high, it is in outstanding condition. The surface is preserved so well that it seems as if it has never been polished, we rarely see 20th century silver this crisp. Our scale weighs it at 8.65 troy ounces, just .05 troy ounces less than when it was assayed 223 years ago.
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