A feast of curious collectables


From bog oak Celtic kitsch to erotic Japanese ivory carvings – they’re all at Mealy’s sale of the unexpected

THE TONGUE-twisting “estates of aesthetes” is Mealy’s description of its two-day Fine and Decorative Art auction next week.

An aesthete, according to Chambers Dictionary, is “a person who affects an extravagant love of art” and aestheticism refers, primarily, to “a late 19th century movement to bring art into life, which developed into affectation”.

The sale provides an intriguing insight into the bewildering variety of objects which can enthuse and even obsess collectors – from Victorian bog oak ornaments to naughty Oriental erotica.

The aesthetes in question – now deceased – were: Geoffrey Mandeville, Anner Castle, Co Tipperary; Seán Shinkins, Barrington St, Limerick; and the Very Rev Thomas McDonnell, a parish priest in Naas, Co Kildare.

The sale also includes some remaining lots from the estates of the late broadcaster Cathal O’Shannon and the late Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair. Most of the items from these estates have already been disposed of at previous auctions.

Anyone attending the viewing, which begins at noon tomorrow, might find it amusing to try to match individual lots to their former owners but provenance codes in the catalogue will resolve any disputes.

Among the highlights is a collection of 19th-century carved bog oak items, including candlesticks, boxes and brooches, owned by the late Fr McDonnell, to be sold individually, with estimates ranging from €80-€300. A painting owned by the priest of Pilgims at Clonmacnoise at Sunset is likely to attract much interest. The oil-on-canvas, measuring 27 by 35 inches, is by an unknown artist and described as “19th century Irish School”, and is estimated at €700-€1,100.

A Riley Special Sports Tourer, a vintage car from 1930, owned by the late Mr Shinkins, has an estimate of €12,000-€18,000.

Riley was a British bicycle and car manufacturer, founded in 1890 and based in Coventry, which ceased production in 1969.

Among items of furniture from Anner Castle are a pair of William IV mahogany side tables, €2,500-€3,500 and a 19th century carved giltwood wall mirror, €4,000-€6,000.

The Fine and Decorative Art auction takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday next (October 16th and 17th) beginning at 10.30am each day in Mealy’s, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.

10 curious lots

1 A 19th century Irish surgeon’s amputation set, €300-€400

2 A Victorian leather-bound travelling vanity case, €700-€1,100

3 A jade-hilted Mughal dagger, €2,000-€3,000

4 A set of four 3-D stamps from Bhutan, celebrating space exploration, €80-€150

5 A collection of 19th century corkscrews, €150-€250

6 A silver gilt monstrance (for displaying the Eucharistic host), €800-€1,200

7 A bronze model of Napoleon’s death mask, €250-€350

8 A pair of Japanese ‘netsuke’ depicting erotic scenes, €300-€500

9 A life-size stone sculpture of an Irish War of Independence volunteer, €5,000-€7,000

10 An ivory-mounted, tortoiseshell Georgian tea caddy, €1,300-€1,500