Country house sale a cure for winter blues


Aspirant toffs will be thrilled with what’s on offer at the upcoming Mealys Winter Fine Art and Decorative Art Sale

ANYONE suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawal symptoms will find solace at Mealy’s Winter Fine and Decorative Art Sale next week. Need deer antlers? A candle snuffer? A brass-bound, mahogany peat bucket or a Worcester soup tureen? Whether you’re a wannabe duchess in Dalkey or a lord-of-the manor in Meath, aspirant toffs will find all the accessories needed to recreate the gentry look.

The sale includes the contents of Clonmel’s Glenconnor House, items from Cork’s Bantry House and assorted treasures from upper-crust interiors, attics and basements countrywide.

The catalogue is crammed with big-ticket items. Paintings include The Young Anglers by Walter Osborne (€12,000-€18,000) and Inside the Chapel (also known as Brittany, The Stained Glass Window) by Aloysius O’Kelly, (€8,000-€15,000).

Bronze busts by Cork sculptor Séamus Murphy are being offered for sale privately by a member of the Murphy family and have not been seen before on the open market: The Stonecutter is €5,000–€7,000 and The Tailor, €3,000–€5,000. A pair of girandole mirrors from Bantry House is €10,000–€15,000 while a rare, late-19th century walnut longcase regulator clock, by Henschel Samuelson of Duke Street, is €4,000–€6,000.

But it’s the quirky little things that catch the eye. And the sale could be the answer to Christmas shopping predicaments.

What to get the man who has everything? Well, how about a bronze model of Napoleon’s Sarcophagus estimated at €300–€400 or, if he’s a congested old buffer, a tortoiseshell snuff box depicting two cyclists on boneshakers (€200-€300)?

If your granny is a dowager countess-type she may love a gold, spring-action lorgnette (€130-€170). And a housewife desperate to get one up on the neighbours won’t find a more exotic utensil for the dining table than a silver-mounted 18th century coconut jar (€200-€300).

And why not lure your whingeing weanlings away from the perils of wicked Wii and numbskulling Nintendo by introducing them to the joys of taxidermy? A glass-cased,mounted display of five squirrels (€600-€750) would certainly produce squeals of delight on Christmas morning.

Elegant smokers would swoon over a rectangular silver presentation cigarette box apparently given by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall York (later King George V and Queen Mary) to a ship’s captain during a tour of the colonies in 1901 (€800-€1,200).

Ladies seeking the X-factor look (of Lady Mary Crawley – not the Tesco diva, Mary Byrne) – will find inspiration among an unusual collection of vintage fashion which features a Victorian mourning dress (€200-€250); an 1880s evening gown by Pim’s of Dublin (€200-€250); and evening bags and parasols from the collection of Kitty Kiernan Cronin who was once the fiancée of Michael Collins (only €100-€200).

Chaps hoping to look the part of an officer and a gentleman will find a naval officer’s epaulettes in gold and silver bullion thread, stored in their original velvet-lined, fitted metal case (€400-€600).

If you’re overwhelmed by it all or just want to toast a big purchase, don’t forget to raise your paddle – and spirits – with a bid for Lot 315. What better way to end the day out than by cracking open the 1976 Chateau d’Ýquem, 1er Grand Cru Classé from a private collection of wine, port and whiskey.

Two bottles of the fine wine – which has a “nose” as snooty as Gérard Dépardieu’s in Cyrano de Bergerac – are on offer, estimated at €600-€800.

Viewing at Mealy’s new auction galleries in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny begins tomorrow afternoon and the two-day sale begins on Tuesday morning, November 30th. Most commendably, children under 12 are barred. Quite right too. They’ve got Hamleys.