The Russell Chalice

Chalice made in Waterford by Edward Russell, c.1670, the base inscribed Deo et Ecclesia (God & Church); underneath the foot Dedit Hook (Hook gave it). Pieces by Russell bear his initials and the mark of Waterford, a stamp of a castle, perhaps Reginald's Tower, from which fly three flags. The tradition of fine metalworking in Viking age Waterford continued through Anglo-Norman times: in the late 13th century a city official known as Roger the Goldsmith was active. 15th century wills show that the city's churches were endowed with large quantities of gold and silver altar vessels and that domestic silver also existed.

Gravestones in the French Church, Waterford, bear testimony to at least two 16th century goldsmiths, Cornelius Hurley and N. Colton. In 1657 a guild of hammermen which included goldsmiths, silversmiths and watchmakers was given a charter of incorporation by Waterford Corporation. Edward Russell was one of several silversmiths we know of in the 17th century. He was commissioned in 1666/67 to produce the dies for new copper penny tokens. Made a freeman of the city on September 1st 1674, among the many items he is known to have produced is this exquisite silver chalice, one of a collection of extremely rare 17th and 18th century provincial and Dublin silverware on display in Waterford Museum of Treasures since 2002.

Date/Period: c.1670 A.D./17th century

Inventory no.: 2000.016

Collection: Waterford City Council by kind permission of the Dean, Chapter and Select Vestry of Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford

Location: Waterford Museum of Treasures exhibition

Dimensions: 150 height mm

Provenance: Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford

Material: Silver

Further Reading:

  • Conor O'Brien, 'Some misidentified Munster goldsmiths', The Silver Society Journal 13, Autumn 2001
  • R. Wyse Jackson, 'Old Church Plate of Lismore Diocese', JRSAI 85 1955
  • C. B. Warren, 'Notes on the Church Plate of Waterford Diocese', JRSAI 97 1967

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