One of rarest pieces of Irish silver ever to come to market to be auctioned
One of the rarest pieces of Irish silver ever to come to market will be auctioned in England later this month.
The shallow bowl was made in Dublin during the time of Oliver Cromwell, between around 1659 and 1663.
It is the second oldest known secular Irish plate and is expected to fetch up to £6,000.
Only a handful of similar items are known to survive from before the Restoration of the monarchy and only a table salt made in Dublin in 1640 is thought to pre-date it.
The receptacle was described as a porringer. The dishes were typically used for holding soups or stews.
Its whereabouts was unknown for almost 50 years until earlier this year when Sworders auctioneers in Stansted, Essex, were invited to appraise items of silver from the family of Colonel SL Bibby CBE, a silver collector.
A statement from Sworders said: "Bibby's granddaughter, too, has fond memories of family meals in a dining room sparkling with Stuart and Georgian table silver.
"Sadly much of the collection was subsequently stolen, and the porringer is among just eight lots that remained with the family to be sold in Essex on November 30."
It was dubbed the IS porringer on account of its engraved initials. It is also marked with a Dublin harp.
Little is known about Colonel Bibby, but his was once a noteworthy collection. Seven of his pieces were included in the landmark exhibition Seven Centuries Of English Domestic Silver held at the Royal Ontario Museum in 1958.