Serving a nice memento to Limerick Lawn: President Philip Jones purchased a prize silver spoon that was presented at a club event in 1896 Picture: Adrian Butler
THE famous Limerick Lawn Tennis Club is now in possession of a silver spoonful of history, after an overseas antique dealer sold a ceremonial piece of cutlery to its president.
After Limerick Lawn president Philip Jones received a surprise e-mail about a spoon that had been presented as a prize at the club in the late 1800s, he then met with the eagle-eyed dealer from the UK.
Speaking to the Leader about this scoop,Philip said that the dealer then came to Limerick to show off the locally-made, hand-sized, silver cake spoon with “Won at Limerick LTC 1896” finely etched on its bowl.
That is when the UK dealer offered to sell the artefact to the club president. But before proffering a handshake to seal the deal, Philip wanted to get the item examined by local experts to confirm its exact value.
A spoon like this could have been used to slice and serve a piece of cake after a long day on the Ennis Road court.
But even after 121 years, mystery surrounds this antique cake-serving spoon. It is not known, yet, to whom this prize item was given. Nor is it known the type of event at which it was presented. It has been mooted that it could have been a prize for a singles or doubles event.
He went to one jewellers to get the piece valued and the jeweller said: “Yeah, that seems okay. We would sell stuff here for a lot more than what he is looking for.”
He was then referred onto another city centre store, but this jeweller had a differing opinion.
“Oh, this wouldn’t be worth an awful lot,” Philip was told. “Once it’s engraved, it loses its value nowadays.”
After receiving two different figures, the club president returned to the dealer, and offered a three-sum figure. And now Philip plans to mount the silver spoon in a little case, fashioned like the old wooden pencil cases with a small slide window.
“That’s my intention, and then I am going to present it to the club as a token for the club, because of the history associated with it. I wasn’t looking at it for myself. I felt it would be a nice little gesture to the club, as it is celebrating 140 years as a club. It is the oldest club in Ireland.”
The famous Fitzwilliam Tennis Club, in Ranelagh, was also founded in 1877, but just three weeks after the Ennis Road club. Limerick Lawn Tennis Club was founded in the same year as the prestigious Wimbledon Championships.
In 1898, Limerick Lawn hosted an international championship match between Ireland and Wales, at which the home side lost 11-3.
The proud president is hoping that historians will come forward with some enlightening information on the piece of cutlery.
Philip will also present three old tennis rackets that were unearthed by a relative of former members at a home in the city. It is understood that they were used sometime in the 1930s or 1940s by Limerick Lawn members.
“The woman came back to me with information that her relations had been playing with the club in the early 1900s, and these were the rackets that they had played with. And I want to present these to the club as another little memento.”
“I think history is such an important thing for any club. And I feel it would be nice to have this [the spoon],” Mr Jones enthused.