A €15.9m 1933 Double Eagle coin among record-breaking sales

Strong six months in antiques and fine art industry despite Covid and lockdowns

Despite Covid and lockdowns, it has been a strong six months in the antiques and fine art industry, with some notable results.

An extremely rare Irish unofficial farthing sold for 10 times its pre-estimate, achieving a new record of £2,976 (€3,489) including premium, at Dix Noonan Webb in May, while a 160-year-old Irish £1 note found behind a cooker sold for €1,400 at Niall Mullen's sale in April, which was 70 times its opening price. Sotheby's Three Treasures sale of Stuart Weitzman set a new record for a coin at auction when the 1933 Double Eagle $20 coin achieved $18.9 million (€15.9 million), and also setting a record was the 24-cent inverted Jenny Plate Block postage stamp which sold for $4.9 million (€4.14 million).

Whyte’s Eclectic Collector sale in May grossed €600,000, with 90 per cent of lots sold. The sleeper of the sale was a publicity booklet for the White Star Line ships Olympic and Titanic, which achieved €5,800 against a lower estimate of €200. Fonsie Mealy’s Killoughter House sale achieved €500,000 on the hammer, and James Arthur O’Connor’s Travellers on a Woodward Path sold for €12,000. The very rare Augsburg silver chalice, from circa 1650, achieved €10,200 through O’Donovan & Associates in May, which was originally listed with a €4,000-€6,000 estimate.

Paul Henry

At Whyte's May art sale, which grossed just under €900,000, Muldoon and Rattlesnake, by Jack B Yeats, achieved €10,000 over its top estimate, selling for €160,000, and a world record was set for an oil by Patrick Leonard, when Loughshinny, 1943 sold for €34,000. Sean Keating's Thinking Out Gobnet achieved €58,000, and an ink-drawn illustration by Harry Clarke sold for twice its pre-sale estimate, at €12,000. RJ Keighery in Waterford secured €4,750 for a 1952 Triumph Mayflower, €2,800 for a Husqvarna ride-on lawnmower, while a pair of forged iron gates from 1870 achieved €2,700 and a Bantam motorbike with no keys sold for €2,000.


Adam's of St Stephen's Green Important Irish Art sale in June saw Paul Henry's Cottages in Achill take the top lot at €210,000, and the Irish Proclamation achieved €170,000 in a sale that grossed €1.3 million. Adam's fine jewellery sale, also in June, grossed €1 million, with an 85 per cent sold rate. One of the most masterful peer-to-peer portraits ever consigned – Lucian Freud's portrait of David Hockney – achieved £14.9 million (€17.4 million), and Sylvia Plath's letters and personal belongings doubled their pre-sale estimate to achieve £780,000, both through Sotheby's.

Meanwhile, Christie's sale of the BJ Eastwood collection had some notable results earlier this month, when the artworks sold for more than double their pre-sale estimates to achieve a total of £14.8 million (€17.4 million). Top lots were The Vagabonds, Alfred Munnings £1.942 million (€2.28 million) and Summer Day, Jack B Yeats £1.162 million (€1.36 million), and a new record was set for Paul Henry when Mountains and Lake, Connemara sold for £622,500 (€730,199) against a £120,000-£180,000 (€140,760-€211,000) estimate.

All UK sale prices include premiums