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Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns     Order Form     Request more information
Reference: S1799
Period: George III
Year: Circa 1760
Silversmith: Joseph Johns
Place: Limerick
Price: $ 6 550.00
Weight: 250 grams
Dimensions: 36.8 cm
Condition: Old repairs to join between spoon bowl and handle, including pin and solder marks. Split of 1.5 cm along bowl drop. General wear (scratches and small knocks) to bowl, has been well used.

Description: An extremely rare Irish Provincial silver soup ladle from Limerick, made by Joseph Johns, Limericks "most accomplished, prolific and arguably most successful silversmith" (A Celebration of Limerick Silver, John Bowen & Conor O'Brien, pages 140 & 198 - a book we highly recommend). The ladle is in the Rococo style, with a fluted bowl and asymmetrical chased floral decoration on the handle and back of bowl, and has a hooked terminal (or end, described as a "crooked end" by Bennett - Irish Silver, pg 115). The ladle also has an engraved family crest, an armoured arm embowed holding an arrow. The bowl, which is fluted on both sides, is huge, over 10 cms in diameter, this is a substantial ladle with a good gauge. The fluted bowl was described by Douglas Bennett as "an alluring feature feature for the collector" (Collecting Irish Silver, pg 115). The join of bowl to handle has character, the drop has worn engraving, and also a semi circular strengthening plate, which unfortunately was not strong enough to prevent damage from use. It appears it has been repaired twice, it has solder marks around the inside of this semi circular plate, it also has a connecting pin and solder across the join, both repairs look very old. A narrow split along one side of the drop is also present. The hallmarks are good, and include makers mark II flanking a lion rampant in an irregular oblong punch struck twice, flanking "STERLING". This rampant lion punch between initials was used exclusively by Limerick goldsmiths from around 1720 to 1760, the rampant lion is also a prominent feature on the City maces. The practice of using an ornamental device in makers punches was outlawed by an order promulgated in 1731 by the Company of Goldsmiths of Dublin, "given the continuation of the practice in Limerick it would seem the Dublin Company's attitude towards their Limerick brethren was rather benign" (Celebration of Limerick Silver pg 16). Other Limerick Goldsmiths who used the Lion Rampant included Collins Brehon, Jonathan Buck and Samuel Johns (son of Joseph). Sterling struck on Irish silver usually indicates Irish provincial origin (Limerick and Cork), it denotes the metal was of legally prescribed fineness, along the goldsmiths makers mark it acted as a personal warranty. An almost identical soup ladle, also by Joseph Johns, is depicted in the book Celebration of Limerick Silver on page 128 (plate 121a, exhibit 5.27), the Rococo engraving on the handle is slightly different. Co-incidentally this ladle also has a very similar family crest of armoured embowed arm, but this one holds a dagger as opposed to an arrow. Joseph Johns was freed in 1731, he died in 1775. He has been described as the leading Limerick Goldsmith, who held many important municipal offices, he rose to become Mayor of Limerick in 1773, whilst Mayor he laid the foundation stone for the "House of Industry" (the Poor House). He was treasurer of Freemasons Lodge 9, Churchwarden of St Mary's, Sheriff in 1755, Burgess in 1756, Chamberlain in 1769, so clearly an industrious and well respected member of the Limerick community (Celebration of Limerick Silver, pg 198). Limerick silver of the 18th century, and in particular that of Joseph Johns, "demonstrated high standards of workmanship, which consistently equalled that of Dublin work of the period in quality" (pg 14). Kurt Ticher wrote an article entitled "The Lion Rampant on Mid - 18th Century Limerick Silver" , published by Antiques magazine in 1969, he described the 4 Limerick silversmiths who used the mark and suggested it represented a guarantee of fineness similar to the English lion. He followed this with another interesting article published in April 1975 entitled "Limerick Oddities", in which he questioned why the lion rampant was only used by a few Limerick goldsmiths.Note -An almost identical ladle, made by George Moore of Limerick circa 1770, sold for GBP 8800 at Lawrences Auctioneers, 11 October 2016, lot 96.
Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Irish Provincial limerick hook end soup ladle - joseph johns

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Joseph Johns Limerick makers mark - rampant lion

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Sterling hallmark - limerick silver

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Limerick silver soup ladle - back showing fluted bowl and drop

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Limerick silver ladle - fluted rococo bowl

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Limerick ladle, showing old repair

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Irish silver crooked end or hooked terminal

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Interior of bowl, split, old repair

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Limerick silver - embowed arm holding arrow family crest, asymmetrical chased floral decoration

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Limerick sterling silver - scale

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Joseph Johns, Limerick Sterling hallmarks - all 3

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Fluted bowl, limerick silver ladle

Irish Provincial Limerick Hook End Soup Ladle - Joseph Johns
Embowed arm with arrow, engraved crest

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