An antique table is for life, not just for Christmas. On the other hand, ’tis the season when you can use all the extra serving surfaces you can get your hands on – whether it’s for the big sit-down dinner on Christmas day, or casual arrangements of drinks and snacks in odd corners at all hours.
The good news is that you haven’t left it too late. Adam’s “At Home” sale tomorrow at the auction house’s St Stephen’s Green premises features a fabulous selection of centre tables, side tables, sofa tables, serving tables, library tables, Pembroke tables and wine tables, many of them at very affordable prices and all beautiful enough to act as people magnets and talking points right through the party season.
One of the most appealing – and among the most expensive – is a George III circular mahogany rent table on a turned centre pillar and tripod splayed legs, its top inset with green leather (lot 258, €2,000-€3,000).
Thanks to their association with landlords, rent tables have a forbidding history; but their chunky solidity and practical design ensure that they sit well with even the most contemporary interior. This one is encircled by six clever hinged drawers which would once have operated as a sort of filing system for the rent collector, being labelled with the days of the week – but can now be repurposed as sneaky storage for everything from phone chargers and TV remotes to napkin wraps.
Another generously-proportioned centre table is lot 263 (€2,000-€3,000), an octagonal table on an “X” stretcher with a spill-proof marble top. Among the dining tables in the auction are lot 313a (€2,000-€4,000), an octagonal Victorian rosewood table, and lot 309 (€1,500-€2,000), a D-end three-pod mahogany table from the George III period, while those lucky enough to have the space for a large serving table can choose between an early 19th-century Cork side table with raised panel back and reeded rim (lot 251, €1,500-€2,500), or a George IV serving table with arch panel back and moulded rim, raised on leaf-carved cabriole legs with paw feet (lot 386, €600-€800).
Side tables can take centre stage during the festive season, and among the many attractive examples in the sale are lot 452 (€500-€800), a Victorian walnut and crossbanded Sutherland table, lot 337 (€800-€1,200), an ebony Louis Philippe folding-top card table with ormolu banding, lot 318, a foldover card table with canted corners and tapering supports (€600-€900), and lot 217, the perennially-useful circular occasional table, this one with a tapering centre pillar, bun feet and a plain rosewood top (€300-€400).
For storing bottles and drinks paraphernalia in style, wooden cellarets are another very useful item at this time of year and there are a number of styles to choose from, including lot 240 (€500-€700), which dates from circa 1825, has a lined interior and sits on a turned centre column with brass toecaps and castors, and lot 293 (€600-€1,000) a sarcophagus design which has a compartmented interior.
But it would be misleading to suggest that the auction is all about dining furniture: it also contains a large selection of jewellery, silver, porcelain, clocks and decorative objects to tempt seasonal bidders.
For exceptionally smart service, there’s a George III Irish silver salver (lot 106, €1,000-€1,500) made in Dublin circa 1770 and bearing the mark of Matthew West. If you’ve always fancied a long-case clock, lot 220 is a classic Irish Victorian example made by Patricia Donegan of Dublin (€800-€1,200). For a spot of antique Russian exoticism it would be hard to beat a silver rabbit with garnet eyes, made in Moscow around 1890 by the Fabergé silversmith Julius Alexandrovich Rappoport (lot 115, €1,000-€1,500). And a Georgian red leather despatch box, with its brass handle and royal cipher (lot 470, €600-€800) would look very elegant indeed, placed on one of those aforementioned Georgian tables.
Among the mirrors are a Victorian carved giltwood overmantle mirror of horizontal form (lot 247, €2,000-€3,000), an upright version, also in giltwood (lot 218, €1,000-€1,500), and an early 19th-century oval girandole wall mirror (lot 262, €1,000-€1,500).
For resting tired feet, a late Georgian mahogany and needlework footstool (lot 219, €300-€400) can be whisked into place on its obliging brass castors – while a William IV mahogany-framed three-seater settee, complete with traditional lotus-carved turned legs and casters (lot 382, €1,000-€1,500), has been given a contemporary spin with an eye-catching zebra-print upholstery fabric.
Or may that should be “hip holstery”. How cool could that settee look, accessorised with a pile of luxurious monochrome cushions – and a row of comfortable, happy people?
Adam's, 26 St Stephen's Green, Dublin 2. At Home, Sunday, December 16th, 11.30am. A timed online auction of lots 550 to778 is currently ongoing, and ends tomorrow at 2pm. See adams.ie