Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Irish Potato Rings

Okay, so this blog is mostly about English Transferware but if you've followed me from the beginning you know that
I reserve the right to be random.  I'm married to a fierce Scotch-Irishman so this time of year is always festive as you can imagine!  I have been preparing some posts for St. Patricks Day, including a pretty green transferware tablescape and some of our own versions of  Irish recipes, like Shawn's Irish Cream and my Shepherds Pie (I found there is some controversy as to whether it's English or Irish but since I'm part English and Shawn's part Irish... it's both at our house).  As I was doing a little research, I came across these extraordinary silver collectibles unique to Ireland and thought I'd share:
 The Potato Ring.

Source: DandDAntiques

So what the heck is a potato ring, you ask.  And, what was a potato ring used for? 
Potato rings are silver stands which were used with a wooden bowl placed on top of the ring, or fit inside, to hold hot, baked potatoes.  The ring served as protection against heat damage to the dining table.  Potato (or dish) rings are generally about 8" in diameter and about 4" high.


Most often, dish or potato rings were decorated with intricate farm scenes and made of sterling silver.


Highlighting the heritage of Ireland, these sterling silver potato rings were essential to the etiquette of fine Irish dining during the mid 18th century.

This one below is pierced and embossed with Stags and Hounds with scrolls and foliage.  It was made in Dublin, circa 1911, by Gibson and Company.  I think this is my favorite.  Isn't it fantastic?




Below is a potato ring made by another Dublin silversmith John Craig.  This dates to 1764.

This black and white image below shows how the wooden bowl would look atop the silver ring.

Source: SMPub


At the beginning of the 19th Century, potato rings came with fitted  glass liners which replaced the wooden bowls that were previously used.

Source: D and D Antiques

 This one with a green liner would be perfect for my St. Patricks Day tablescape...

 ...however, given the $1000+ price tags of these I think the only potato ring I'll be able to afford will be for my finger and not my dining table.
Source: Mezereem



Please don't forget to enter my giveaway for $50 to my English Transferware shop at Common Ground!  Ends soon, so hurry!



"I am not young enough to know everything"
~Oscar Wilde (had to fit something in from an Irish poet)~


Joining:


Table Top Tuesday at A Stroll thru Life
Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
What's It Wednesday at Ivy and Elephants
Knick of Time Tuesday at Knick of Time
White Wednesday at Faded Charm
Primp Your Stuff at Primp
Share the Love Wednesday at Very Merry Vintage Style
Wow Us Wednesday at Savvy Southern Style

22 comments:

  1. Oh my! I thought that I had seen everything, but I have never heard of potato rings before. Thank you for enlightening me - I loved seeing these exquisite silver pieces (one of my obsessions!!).

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  2. I always learn something wonderful when I visit your blog, Nancy! These rings are just beautiful, and I can imagine other uses for decorating the table... perhaps setting a pillar candle inside? I like the ones with glass liners in those luscious jewel tones.

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  3. I learn more historical facts from you, Nancy, then I think I ever did in school! At least, yours are more interesting! : ) I had never heard of these potato rings before but they make sense and are certainly beautiful pieces. I'm sure they looked stunning in a tablesetting.

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  4. I have never heard of that before.Lovely photos.

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  5. I've never heard of a potato ring. You learn something new every day! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Never heard of that before, and I'm Irish!
    As I was reading, was thinking "I'd love one of those", till I got to the price tag, ha ha!

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  7. What a fabulous post! I love learning something new! I have been selling and collection English smalls for 30 years, and have never seen or heard of potato rings! How fun! Great post!
    Ruth

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  8. Wow. These are so beautiful, and I love learning something new. I had absolutely no idea! I hope you don't mind, I'm going to link to you and this in my next post, I think it's such great reading. Thank you for introducing me to something new. :)

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  9. I learned something here Nancy. I've never heard of or seen a potato ring before. There are really beautiful espeicially the ones with the coloured glass inside. Interesting post! Pamela

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  10. I had never heard of a potato ring before. Thank you for the lesson. Love your site and all the wonderful ideas!


    Jody

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  11. I've never heard of one of those -- but I would like to have them -- sigh -- at those prices, it will be a "want" forever!

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  12. My Irish born bil was here yesterday, wish I had been able to show him this.
    I am Irish American, but. I never heard of this. I guess my ancestors were more potato farmers than owners of potato rings! They are gorgeous!
    I hope you will save one of your Irish themed posts for my 4 th Annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Crawl on the 13 th. I would love to have you ! Nothing English though, lol!

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  13. Well, these are exquisite! I've never seen or heard of these, so thank you for introducing us to them. Each one is fascinating.
    Look forward to seeing your St. Patrick's Day tables. ~ sarah

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  14. They are beautifully made, and quite elegant!!! Always learn something visiting you...thanks!!! hugs...cleo

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  15. I never heard of Irish Potato Rings before. That's so interesting. They're beautiful! Too bad they are so expensive because it sure would be great to collect a few. Thanks for sharing about them.

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  16. I never hear of an Irish potato rign before intereting. They are really beautful.

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  17. I have never heard of a potato ring, either, Nancy. What an interesting concept! They are beautiful!!! I can imagine placing a platter on top to make a cake plateau out of it or placing it around the base of a beautiful vase. So many uses besides the original intended one! For a $1000 price tag, I would want to use it for everything I possibly could!!!! :-)

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  18. Like the rest of the commenters I too had never heard of these. They are exquisite! So glad you introduced them to us. It is just fascinating.

    Nann

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  19. Add me to the list...I've never heard of them either! Something so beautiful and intricate holding as simple as a potato!! Mercy me. And I agree with Alycia. So many different ways these rings could be used but not at a $1000 price tag. :/

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  20. Wow--I have learned something new. They are quite pretty. Thanks for linking up to Share the Love Wednesday at Very Merry Vintage Style!
    Mary

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  21. The older potato ring with the wooden bowl looks like it serviced many, and I have read that the held several potatoes from which the dinner chose his own. The rings with the glass inserts look as if they only hold one potato and may have been used for an individual serving? I am wondering if there is a size differential and whether there was a difference. Love the website.

    Thanks,
    Chris

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  22. Thanks for the recipe & the link to Debra's blog & giveaway! I have my cart filled & ready to spend that $50!!!!!
    Joan

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