One of the objects of the Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland is to collect and preserve artefacts of historical interest relating to Presbyterianism in Ireland. So as well as being a library and an archive the Society is also a museum as well.
These objects can be deposited with the Society either as a gift or on indefinite loan.
Among the objects that the Society holds are: portraits; communion cups, flagons and plates; commemorative plates; medals; trowels and other objects used at the laying of foundations of church buildings; an hour glass used to time the preachers’ sermons; long handled collection ladles; pitch pipes used to establish the key for singing in the days before musical instruments were used in churches.
Among the more unusual items are the walking stick and desk that belonged to the Rev Dr Henry Cooke, and part of an 18th century pike possibly used in the 1798 Rebellion.
The largest category of objects is the Society’s collection of Presbyterian communion tokens, mainly from Ireland but also include some from Scotland and elsewhere.
Communion tokens as a means of regulating the observance of the Lord’s Supper were brought to Scotland from Europe by John Knox and others and hence to Ireland when the Scots began to settle in Ireland in the early 17th century. They come in various shapes and sizes and generally bore the name or the initial of the congregation or the name and initials of the minister.
For more details see’ Irish Presbyterian Communion tokens - an Introductory Study’ by John T Carson (Presbyterian Historical Society of Ireland, 1980) and ‘Communion Tokens of the Presbyterian Churches in Ireland’ by Rev A. A Milne (Glasgow 1920)