An ugly bird with a pretty high price

An anthropomorphic tobacco jar with an estimate of €15,000-€25,000 will appeal to niche collectors of “Martinware”

Lot 165, a late Victorian glazed pottery tobacco jar with detachable cover, will be auctioned at Adam’s

Lot 165, a late Victorian glazed pottery tobacco jar with detachable cover, will be auctioned at Adam’s

 

There are scores of beautiful objects for sale in Adam’s Fine Period Interiors auction in Dublin tomorrow – furniture, silver, bronzes and clocks – but the top lot is a long way off pretty.

Lot 165 is a late Victorian glazed pottery tobacco jar and cover, 24cm high, modelled in the form of a standing bird with detachable head on an ebonised base. Despite its ugly mug it has an estimate of €15,000-€25,000 .

It was made by the Martin Brothers in Southall, London, in 1895. The potters specialised in making jars in a style known as anthropomorphic; the birds were modelled on well-known characters in Victorian society. They’re keenly sought after by niche collectors of so-called Martinware.

Kieran O’Boyle of Adam’s said: “Martin Brothers’ fantastic pieces have had a long history of collectability, and prices have recently achieved great heights,” citing a bird jar modelled as Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th-century British prime minister, that sold in New York last year for $190,000.

The jar figure at Adam’s has not yet been identified, but hawk-eyed bidders, who think they know who the bird may be modelled on, may swoop and make a killing.

Viewing is under way today, and the auction takes place at noon tomorrow in the Adam’s saleroom at 26 St Stephen’s Green. Other highlights include an 18th-century Queen Anne walnut veneered bureau cabinet, €5,000-€8,000; an Irish George II mahogany grandfather clock by William Ross, Cork, €4,000-€6,000; and a set of Victorian silver candlesticks by London silversmiths Langley, Archer and West, €3,000-€5,000.

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