Adam’s auction features exotic items with ‘empire swagger’

Plenty of interesting lots on view in Country House Collections in Slane Castle

Three days of viewing begin this morning at Slane Castle, Co Meath for Adam's annual Country House Collections auction which takes place on Tuesday, October 13th.

Highlights include "splendid Georgian pieces" of furniture such as Lot 371, a neo-classical giltwood mirror by Booker Brothers of Dublin, described as a "tour de force" (€40,000-€60,000) and, among the paintings, Lot 244, a late 18th century oil of a mother and child by Nathaniel Hone (€20,000-€30,000). Lot 92, is "an Italian carved white marble group depicting five putti musicians standing on an oval base, raised on a green marble fluted column" , attributed to Ferdinando Vichi in late 19th century Florence and estimated at €15,000-€25,000.

There are also exotic silks, porcelains, jade and various “objets” from the Indian sub-continent brought home by “naval adventurers . . . for us island dwellers to marvel at” and which “complete the sense of empire swagger apparent in this sale”, according to Adam’s. Among them are Lot 115, an Anglo-Indian ‘Vizigapatam’ engraved ivory casket (€3,000-€5,000) and Lot 116, a “Mysore ebony cabinet with its royal emblem of Tipu Sultan” (€4,000-€6,000).

Unusual items

Lot 202, a Chinese jade seal in a polished horn case, was brought home by 19th century British naval officer Captain Edward Westby Vansittart, who served aboard HMS Bittern in the North China Sea. It's now being sold by his descendants who live in Ireland. The estimate is €3,000-€5,000, but, as always, Chinese antiques are utterly unpredictable.


Among the more unusual items is a 19th century memento of Northern Ireland's Orange Order. Lot 36 is "a painted pine Grand Master's Chair for Loyal Orange Lodge No 579, Portstewart Lighthouse" and is described as "a chair of considerable rarity", estimated at €2,000-€3,000.

Among an interesting selection of photographs is Lot 550A, a folio of 10 late 19th century views of St Stephen’s Green, Dublin by renowned photographer W Lawrence in an album inscribed, “To My Dearest Wife, A, 1882” – which is from St Anne’s, Clontarf, a former Guinness home (€300-€500). Rather more expensive is Lot 596, an album of photographs from the 1860s with images of India, Ceylon, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Honolulu and the Niagara Falls (€3,000-€5,000).

‘Cowboys and Indians’

Vintage toys are very collectible, and Lot 544 is likely to appeal to men who recall the era of “cowboys and Indians” . The collection of cast-lead figures features “cowboys with pistols, lassoos, typical cowboy attire, including horses, campfire musicians and tree stump; the Indians complete with headdresses, some carrying rifles, some with bows and arrows, some in crouched, crawling position, some seated, also including bareback horses and a canoe” (€200-€400).

Vintage luggage is also sought-after by collectors and examples include a large Edwardian metal-bound travelling trunk, with the inscription “The Charles Rudebusch Co” (€500-€800), and a 19th century crocodile-skin suitcase (€400-€500).