Salver or card tray | Metal,Silver (sterling) | 18th century AD | The Hunt Collection | PD

This circular tray with a pie-crust edge and shell border stands on three pad feet. Inside the border is a flat-chased decoration of fruit and flowers. The tray bears on the back the mark of Joseph Johns, a lion rampant, with the initials ‘II’ on either side accompanied by the word ‘sterlings’ showing that it is of sterling standard, made up of at least 925 parts fine per 1000 with the remainder being copper. Silver being a soft metal needs to be hardened by the copper to facilitate its manufacture and ensure that the object retains its shape during many years of use. As Limerick never has an assay office it must be taken on trust that the tray is of sterling standard. 

Salver is from the Spanish word salva meaning the tray from which the king’s taster sampled food before serving it, but smaller ones, such as this, are now card trays used for the reception of calling cards. In the centre is the crest of the Russell family, defended by Philip, born in 1650s, whose members included a mayor and a member of parliament. Their burial place was at St John’s Limerick, where there are four vaults and a mausoleum all bearing the family crest.