Exhibition on Silver and Gold

Gold and silver exhibition launch Armagh Robinson Library
Image credit: Ian Maginess

The Library has launched its next temporary exhibition on silver and gold, as part of the celebrations for its 250th anniversary this year, and in acknowledgement of the support of the Goldsmiths’ Company for the Library’s Endowment Appeal.

The exhibition, entitled If speaking is silver, then listening is gold after a Turkish proverb, highlights books from the Library’s own collections on silver and gold, alongside silver objects. 

The exhibition was compiled by the Library’s Archivist, Thirza Mulder, and Visitor Engagement Officer, Rachel Toner.

If speaking is silver, then listening is gold will be on view in the Library on weekdays from 10-1 and 2-4, until September 2021.

Visitors are requested to book in advance.

For over 6,000 years silver and gold have been used for many different purposes.  Money, jewellery, ornaments and eating utensils, amongst others, have been made from these precious metals. Three examples from the Library’s collections include an 18th century transcript of a work published in 1580 by Lazarus Ercker, Master of the Mint in Prague, a 15th century Book of Hours with golden illustrations, and a silver medal to commemorate the opening of the Library in 1771. 

Present at the launch was Mr Bill Montgomery, a Liveryman of the Goldsmiths’ Company, which has been in existence since 1327 to support the goldsmith trade. He said,

It was a great pleasure to be present at the opening of the exhibition.  For more than 400 years The Great Twelve Livery Companies of the City of London have had connections with Northern Ireland, from the time that James I created the County of Londonderry and granted portions of that County to the Livery Companies.  The walled city of Londonderry and the town of Coleraine were largely built by The Honourable The Irish Society which today manages the residual assets of the Great Twelve Companies and the fisheries of the River Bann for the City of London.

While the ownership of land has considerably decreased, the Livery Companies either individually or through The Irish Society are still much involved in charitable works in Northern Ireland, maintaining an office in Coleraine and a full-time administrator and 5 staff members. In light of this historic connection, it gives me great pleasure to be able to wish the exhibition the success that it deserves.

Also present at the launch was Mr Clifford Ewart from Ewarts Jewellers, a family run business in the City of Armagh. He commented on the exhibition,

We get to see and work with some beautiful antique gold and silver jewellery which local customers cherish. Although the styles may change from year to year, the demand for gold and silver is as strong as ever.

Dr Robert Whan, Director of the Library, stated,

Featuring both books and non-book treasures, this exhibition highlights the richness and breadth of the Library’s collections. It is also an acknowledgement of the gift that the Goldsmiths’ Company have given to the Library’s Endowment Appeal, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. We thank both organisations for their generosity.