Chinese bidders chase rhino horn at Mealy's


MEALY’S TWO-DAY autumn sale this week raised €750,000, with over 70 per cent of the 1,230 lots sold. A selection of oriental art attracted strong interest from buyers in China – bidding by telephone and internet. Two lots of rhinoceros horn, decoratively carved in 19th century China, were among the top sellers.

A Chinese Qing dynasty rhino-horn libation cup (€30,000-€50,000) sold to a buyer in Beijing for €75,000; while a horn carved with images of a man and child by a flowering lotus tree made €47,000 (€20,000-€30,000).

After the sale, auctioneer George Gerard Mealy said that while demand for high-quality oriental art appears to be “unstoppable”, the market for period furniture, paintings and other antiques was “stronger than expected and reminiscent of bygone boom days”.

A Kenyan elephant foot stool made €480 (€350-€550); a leopardskin rug €420 (€250-€350); and an African ceremonial wooden bracelet €500 (€80-€100).

American shop scales, by the Walling Scales Co of Chicago, made €700 (€500-€700).

In other results, a set of four silver candlesticks, made in late 18th-century Dublin, made €20,000 (€15,000-€25,000); an 1862 oil-on-canvas view of Dunbrody Abbey, Co Wexford, by Henry Richard Graves, €4,500 (€5,000-€7,000); and a watercolour by GL Hall, Rare View of Island of Rockall, Scotland made €460 (€400-€500).

Many of the items consigned from the estate of the late Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair, sold but not an elaborate 19th century birdcage which failed to reach even the lowest range of the estimate (€7,000-€11,000).

However, the Ryan family had better luck when a self-portrait by William John Leech sold, albeit below estimate, for €12,000 (€15,000-€25,000).