Exotica galore in Castlecomer


MEALY'S fine and decorative art sale next Tuesday and Wednesday includes hundreds of items from the ongoing disposal of the art and antiques collection of the late Tony Ryan, founder of Ryanair. But the catalogue also features a range of rare and wonderful lots from other private Irish collector.

A selection of oriental art was consigned "from a gentleman's private family collection, brought out of China before the onset of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937". Two rhinoceros-horn items are among the lots already attracting international interest. While international trade in rhino horn has now been outlawed - for conservation reasons - these pieces are worked specimens acquired before June 1st, 1947 and thus exempt from the ban. A Chinese Qing dynasty rhino-horn libation cup is estimated at €30,000-€40,000, while a horn carved with images of a man and child by a flowering lotus tree is €20,000-€30,000.

Fans of exotica will also find African tribal masks, a Kenyan elephant foot stool (€350-€550) and a leopardskin rug (€250-€350).

Irish silver, previously unseen and recently removed from a bank vault, includes a set of four figural table candlesticks, made in late 18th-century Dublin by John Walker (€15,000-€25,000).

Pictures include an 1862 oil-on-canvas view of Dunbrody Abbey, Co Wexford, by Henry Richard Graves, at €5,000-€7,000, and a watercolour by GL Hall, dated 1869, titled, controversially, Rare View of Island of Rockall, Scotland(€400-€500).

Weight-watchers might like an American shop scales, by the Walling Scales Co of Chicago, with a coin slot inscribed: "How much do you weigh?" Its estimate is €500-€700.

Viewing begins at noon today in Mealy's Auction Gallery, Kilkenny Road, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny.