The 273 files in this series document a wide range of silver holloware products designed and produced by the KDW precious metals department over the period of 1966 to 1984. The documentation is in the form of slides, photographs and negatives. The items depicted in this collection include: candle holders, table ware, drinking vessels, cutlery, vases, trays, cigarette boxes, tobacco bowls, ash trays, paper knives, money clips, chess pieces, pill boxes, christening cups, chalices, communion bowls, altar cruets, tabernacle doors, crucifixes, trophies, awards, medallions, medals, and chains of office.
The KDW silver holloware depicted in this series was created by what was originally known as the silversmithing workshop in the early 1960s, and therefore shares a similar administrative history to the Gold Jewellery and Silver Jewellery series.
The silversmithing workshop was the first workshop to be opened by the KDW in 1963, set up by the first employee, Michael Hilliar, who studied his craft in Belfast College of Art and the Central School of Art, London. Hilliar was recorded as the principal designer of the metal articles shown at the first ever KDW exhibition in 1965, with some other pieces designed by Bertel Gardberg, David Reeves and Oisin Kelly. Some historical writings on the KDW note that some pieces of 'modern silver' were being exported in 1964, however extensive metal production did not officially begin until 1966, when the Berlin born designer Rudolf Heltzel was invited by CTT (Coras Tractala) to manage the workshop alongside the Finnish designer Bertel Gardberg. Gardberg was credited with laying the foundations of the Finnish silversmithing industry, and was a prolific designer in the KDW undertaking work in wood, wrought iron and ceramics as well as silver. Heltzel is credited with initiating an apprenticeship scheme within the department and establishing proper training facilities for apprentices. Heltzel only stayed with the KDW for two years, however his role in initiating the apprenticeship scheme was crucial to the success of jewellery making and training in Ireland thereafter. Heltzel devised a silversmithing and jewellery course under the aegis of the Kilkenny Vocational Education Committee in association with the jewellery manufacturing firm Rionore of Kilkenny Ltd. As part of this course, apprentices spent four days per week in the workshop and one day at a vocational school learning technical drawing and mathematics for alloying precious metals. The KDW essentially became a national facility for apprenticeships in precious metals and examination procedures were officially recognised by the Department of Education. This secured the precious metal department as one of the longest running production facilities in the KDW over the history of the workshops. As a result, the standard of apprentices were very high, and many went on to win the national apprenticeship competition. Some of these winners went further and took part at international apprenticeship level. When they first entered the international competition in 1968, the Irish competitor came last. However in 1969 the Irish competitor came twelfth out of 18 and in 1970 they came fifth, indicating the KDW's dedication to training was successful.
Heltzel was responsible for hiring the established London silversmith Peter Donovan, who remained in Kilkenny and became one of Ireland's most successful silversmiths specialising in silver holloware. Both Donovan and Heltzel left KDW to establish their own workshops in Kilkenny yet maintained their connection to KDW by hiring young designers who completed their training there and by continuing to manufacture designs created in the precious metals department. Heltzel moved to Rothe House, Kilkenny where he often held exhibitions of other KDW designers work alongside his own jewellery in the retail part of his workshop. Donovan left KDW after four years to establish his own practice in Kilkenny and trained many successful apprentices, such as local Kilkenny man Michael Rafter.
This silver holloware series depicts approximately 26 items designed or manufactured by Peter Donovan. Along with Markus Huber and Des Byrne, Donovan was one of the most prolific silversmiths in this series. His work was produced from 1966 to 1980, and many pieces designed by Bertel Gardberg were actually manufactured by Donovan, possibly in his own studio. In this series, Donovan's work varies from household objects such as candleholders and a tea service, to miscellaneous trophies and presentation pieces such as the Aer Lingus Young Scientist of the Year Award (1975 & 1976) and the BMW Champion Hurdle Award at Punchestown. Markus Huber is represented in this series from 1968 to 1971 and he predominantly designed household objects such as candleholders, napkin rings, pill boxes, a vase and many forms of bowls, cutlery and plates. Huber designed two presentation pieces – both for the Irish Distillers Grand National races in 1970 and 1971 – the first was a punch bowl and the second was a hand-raised sterling silver wine jug with six matching goblets with gold plated interiors, presented on a walnut tray. Des Byrne produced many items for the KDW precious metals department, in this series his work represents the period from 1970 to 1979. Many of these items are religious requisites. Byrne manufactured a presentation piece designed by the sculptor Oísin Kelly which was given to Pope John Paul II on his visit to Ireland on 29 September 1979.
Over the course of KDW's existence, the annual reports describe an improvement in the attitude of many patrons seeking guidance for design and manufacture, in particular with government departments and agencies who 'have an obligation to encourage good workmanship when commissioning trophies, presentation items and commemorative objects'. The designs by Oísin Kelly which are depicted in this series are a good example of this. Kelly's design for Pope John Paul II featured a silhouette outline of the words of St. Patrick's Brestplate prayer enclosed within the mitred figure of St. Patrick and his crozier. Its presentation box was another example of Irish craftsmanship as the outer case was made in native Irish beech by the Kilkenny cabinetmakers Callaghan and Connolly, and was lined with Irish white silk poplin. Another of Kelly's designs was modelled on a popular item of 18th Century Irish table decoration – the dish ring. Kelly's dish ring which featured jockeys on running horses was presented to the winner of the Irish Distillers Grand National in 1972. A medallion designed by Kelly in 1973 to mark Ireland's entry into the EEC was presented to officials who carried out the negotiations. According to the KDW record sheets, the tree design featured on the medallion represented the nations of the Community, each drawing strength and growth from their unity and common root.
Examples of work produced by Michael Hilliar, Bertel Gardberg, Franz Bette and Gerald Tyler are also illustrated in this series. Hilliar designed five items including a powder box, a round cigarette box, a hand-hammered napkin ring which was made by Peter Donovan, two tall jugs and a chalice with a large conical base featuring three large metal clusters at the centre of the stem. Towards the end of the silver holloware series, many designers remain unidentified, however descriptions from some record sheets and from the reverse of some photographs identify Hilliar as a possible maker of some of these items. It is worth noting that approximately 29 unidentified files at the end of the series could be a miscellaneous overview of early designs produced in the silversmithing workshop and could possibly have been designed by any of the first silversmiths employed by the KDW, perhaps even from the period between 1963 and 1966.
Some items depicted in this series that were designed by Bertel Gardberg such as a hand-wrought silver tankard, a sterling silver tea service with rosewood handles and a set of goblets for Captain Ronald Le Bas the Assay Master of the Dublin Assay Office, were all manufactured by Peter Donovan. Gerald Tyler is recorded as the designer for six items in this series from the year 1966, the items depicted include silver spoons, money clips, large silver goblets and a cruet set with a tray. Franz Bette also designed six items in this series over the period from 1966 to 1970, some of the items included a set of asymmetrical napkin rings and a semi-circular cigarette box. Only one item designed by Rudolf Heltzel is illustrated in this series – a simple silver goblet.
Similar to the silver and gold jewellery series, Max Andersen features extensively in the silver holloware series over the period from 1971 to 1975. Andersen designed a wide variety of objects mostly for use in the home, these included coasters, a tobacco bowl, napkin rings, pill boxes, paper knives, condiment sets and candle holders. Some presentation pieces designed by Andersen include a hand-wrought silver fruit bowl on a wenge base, commissioned by the Bank of Ireland for presentation to a Copenhagen Bank on their centenary in 1973. Andersen designed a set of tall candleholders commissioned by the Royal College of Physicians which were photographed as part of a banquet or dinner setting.
Other designers whose work is documented in this series include Jim Kirkwood, Richard Eckersley, Peter Dabinett, Jim Kelly and Una de Blacam. Four items depicted in the series were designed by Jim Kirkwood during the period from 1970 to 1976, including a teapot with black acrylic fittings with a matching creamer and covered sugar bowl. Richard Eckersley was a designer from the graphic design department and most likely designed the logos and motifs used on two medallions, one for the Irish Book Design Award, and one for the Mechanical Engineering and Trades Association Innovation Award in 1976. Peter Dabinett, another senior member of the graphic design department is recorded as the designer of two items documented in this series, a chain of office for the South Eastern Health Board, and a trophy featuring a pair of crossed horse shoes and a horses head for An Bord n'Gapall. Jim Kelly designed three items from 1979 to 1981, most notably the Eurovision Song Contest Trophy for 1981. This trophy featured concentric silver bands which represented sound waves, mounted on a glass base which was hand-blown by Keith Ledbetter from Jerpoint Glass. The base also included an engraving by Tom Irish from Wexford. Finally Una de Blacam designed a fruit bowl in 1979 which was presented to an unidentified professor in University College Dublin who worked there from 1935-1978.
Out of the 273 items in this series, approximately 127 items are by unidentified designers, many of which feature towards the end of this series. This items are varied in form and style, the majority are presentation pieces or trophies.