Congreve chandelier lights go out


Mount Congreve contents auction draws bidders from around the world

Lot Description Sold for:

1069 A Regency €82,000 mahogany desk (€80,000- €100,000)

1008 Schreiber collection €55,000

of ceramics (€40,000-€60,000)

200 A pair of 18th century€55,000

French console (€20,000-tables€30,000)

930 A Chinese vase €50,000

(Meiping) (€8,000-


492 A Rolls Royce €46,000

Phantom VI (€30,000- €50,000)

1049 A pair of Georgian €46,000

side tables (€18,000-€25,000)

977 An eight-light, €45,000

cut-glass(€15,000-chandelier €25,000)

19 A 10-light, cut-glass €44,000 chandelier(€15,000-€25,000)

882 An Agra carpet €37,000 (€2,500-


947 Pair of Chinese €34,000

vases (Kangxi) (€5,000-


THOUSANDS OF people attended last weekend’s three-day viewing of the Mount Congreve house contents auction in Co Waterford, exceeding even the great expectations of the auctioneer, Mealy’s and its associates from Christie’s. The inevitable queues were well managed by courteous stewarding.

Many people had come just to see the house – open to the public for the first time – but there was no shortage of prospective bidders. The sale seemed to capture the public imagination. Aside from the quality and provenance of the lots on offer, there was evidently a demand for mementos from an Anglo-Irish Big House.

A man eyeing up a Louis XV clock was overheard to remark: “You couldn’t go wrong buying that for 10 grand”. Haven’t we heard that type of loose talk before? Could there be an Irish property-style bubble emerging in the French luxury clocks market? Or, indeed, chandeliers for which numerous bidders were willing to pay tens of thousands of euro?

But caution was thrown to the wind. By 11am on Tuesday the marquee saleroom was filled to capacity.

At one point during the afternoon, the internet broadcast of proceedings crashed, temporarily, as 800 bidders from more than 60 countries also scrambled to bid online and by telephone.

More than 1,100 lots went under the hammer in the marathon two-day auction and by Wednesday evening, virtually everything had sold for a total of €2.2 million. Many items exceeded their estimates, some considerably, especially Chinese vases that had been adapted for use as table lamps,

The 10 top-selling lots (see table) all attracted keen competition but hundreds of other items were also the subject of intense bidding. Among innumerable surprises, a decadently ornate white porcelain Meissen “schneeballen” (snowball) tea-kettle, decorated with gilt roses and canaries, sold for €5,200 to a buyer on the internet. The top estimate had been €1,500 and the catalogue described the piece as having “some minor damages and repairs”.

A mahogany cabinet, once reputedly owned by Marie Antoinette, was withdrawn from the auction and is understood to have been sold privately to an Irish buyer, so it won’t be returning to France. Presumably, it has pride of place in its new home on this auspicious date in history, Bastille Day.