Busy auctions defy budget blues


On the eve of the budget this week, bidders in the crowded saleroom at Adam’s auctioneers in central Dublin spent more than €1.3 million on art. “Almost like the old days,” said auctioneer James O’Halloran afterwards. While the prices achieved were far lower than during the boom years, he claimed to be “very happy with the results across all categories” and said 80 per cent of lots had sold.

The highest price was achieved for a late 19th-century painting titled The Travelling Show, depicting excited village children during a visit by a Punch and Judy show, by an important Irish Victorian artist, Richard Thomas Moynan. The artist is best-known for Military Manoeuvres, a National Gallery favourite, showing barefoot urchins playing at being a regimental band.

The oil-on-canvas work, which is dated 1892 and measures 60cm by 72 cm, made €140,000, a good price but under its low estimate (€150,000-€250,000).

Among the more affordable lots, the colourful Conkers, was painted in 1959 by artist and priest Fr Jack P Hanlon during his last curacy in Churchtown, south Dublin. Depicting pupils of the local De La Salle College, it made €7,500 (€6,000- €8,000).

Also during the week, a two-day auction by Mealy’s Rare Books, which ended in Ballsbridge on Wednesday afternoon, included lively bidding for a prayer book that once belonged to Michael Collins and sold for €3,200 (€1,200-€1,800). A set of the eight-volume, Harry Clarke-illustrated Ireland’s Memorial Records 1914-1918, listing the 49,435 Irishmen who died in the first World War and one of only 100 copies published in 1923, made €5,600 (€3,500-€5,000). A very rare 18th-century book listing Georgian Dublin’s private sedan-chair owners made €525 (€500-€750).

Guilty pleasures

The increase in Dirt tax and the extension of PRSI to “unearned income” (such as share dividends) announced in Budget 2013 could lead to even more interest in “alternative” investments and there are many opportunities in the week ahead.

The excise tax on wine may have increased by €1 a bottle in the Budget but that’s unlikely to trouble well-heeled clients of Adam’s attending next Tuesday afternoon’s auction of fine vintage wine, champagne and port.

The 99 lots on offer include a case (12 bottles) of Château Margaux, 1970 Bordeaux (€1,000-€2,000) and a single bottle of Champagne Bollinger 1961 (€500-€1,000).

O’Reilly’s auction in Francis Street, Dublin, on Wednesday will feature jewellery suitable both for “investment and adornment”. It includes a 4.02 carat diamond ring described as “internally flawless” (€110,000- €120,000) and an Art Deco diamond brooch (€12,000- €16,000).

Mealy’s Fine Art will hold an auction next Tuesday and Wednesday in its saleroom at Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, featuring more than 1,300 lots of fine and decorative art, collectibles, rare whiskey and wine. The sale is titled Gilt-Edged Gifts and Guilty Pleasures and lots include a pair of carved and jewelled ivory figures, made in Germany circa 1900 (€4,000-€6,000) and a complete set (28 bottles) of Midleton Very Rare Irish whiskey from the years 1984 to 2011, each in its “original presentation case with certificate, in pristine condition”, (€10,000-€15,000).

Baby mania begins

You can already buy a €15,000 four poster “Duchess cot for your little princess” declared The Daily Mail on Wednesday apropos the pregnancy of Prince William’s wife, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

The newspaper told its readers that a “high-end nursery outfitters based in Knightsbridge” could supply the costly, bespoke cot “in 12 weeks”.

Families expecting a new arrival might find better value, and faster delivery, at Mealy’s where an “early Victorian mahogany rocking cradle” has an estimate of €1,300-€1,500.

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