Author(s): Alison FitzGerald
Georgian Dublin is synonymous with a period of unprecedented expansion in the market for luxury goods. At a time when new commodities, novel technologies and fashionable imports seduced elite society, silver enjoyed an established association with gentility and prestige. Earlier studies have focused predominantly on the issue of style. This book considers the demand for silver goods in Georgian Ireland from the perspectives of makers, retailers and consumers. It discusses the practical and symbolic uses of silverware, interpreted through contemporary guild accounts, inventories, trade ephemera and culinary manuscripts. For the first time the activities of Dublin's goldsmiths and their customers are considered in the context of the British Isles, acknowledging Dublin's 'second city' status in relation to London. How did the availability of new products like English porcelain and Sheffield Plate affect the demand for silver in Dublin, and how did silver imports from London affect the Dublin trade? To what extent do the practices of Dublin goldsmiths mirror their North American counterparts seeking to infer associations with the fashionable metropolis of London? Drawing on an extensive range of documentary and object evidence this wide-ranging analysis considers the context in which silver goods were made, used, valued and displayed in Georgian Ireland.