Art&Antiques: A return to treasure foraging for collectors and casual browsers

National Antiques, Art and Vintage Fair to open on October 22nd in Limerick

Foraging for treasure at antiques fairs has been a distant memory for most bargain-hunters since Covid hit, but they finally have a significant date for their diaries.

The biggest gathering of antique dealers since March 2020 will get under way in the Great National South Court hotel in Limerick, when the National Antiques, Art and Vintage Fair opens on October 22nd.

Almost 70 dealers are showing their wares at the fair, which has been extended to three days to cater for expected pent-up demand. And they will all be open to a bit of negotiation, according to the fair’s organiser Robin O’Donnell.

"Our dealers are so anxious and keen to get back to earning their living again," he says. "It has been an absolute nightmare for the antique fair business. Therefore Limerick and the National Antiques Art and Vintage Fair has never been quite as anticipated as it is this time around."


This year’s event will appeal to everyone from serious collectors to casual browsers.

“It does not matter if you have only €20 in your pocket or €20,000, you will still be spoilt for choice.”

Items on offer will include jewellery, furniture, Persian and Turkish rugs, vintage fashion, porcelain and china, rare stamps, coins and banknotes, and fine art.

Bombe Commode

Some of the antique dealers are new to the fair, such as French furniture specialist Neville Duke of Ashbrook Antiques in Roscrea. Among his offerings is an attractive French Louis XV-style light green Bombe Commode with painted chinoiserie decoration. It has a dappled pink marble top over two drawers and comes with an asking price of €1,750.

He is also offering a 19th century French bird’s eye maple and rosewood Wellington chest/Semainier (€950). This piece, topped with white marble, is in very good condition and all seven drawers still have their original working locks and key.

In days long gone the semainier (from semaine, the French word for week) was used to sort ladies’ linens and lingerie into weekly supplies. The new owner of this semainier may not have storage needs for corsets or bustiers but no doubt the seven drawers will come in useful for more modern storage requirements.

Weldon's of Dublin will be bringing some fine pieces of jewellery to the fair. Among the highlights is a very special 2.4 ct F colour emerald cut diamond ring described by James Weldon as "a stunning example" of original Art Deco jewellery.

“So many Art Deco-style rings are contemporary copies, it’s fabulous to see a fine original example,” he says. The asking price for that piece is €35,000.

A pair of Edwardian diamond drop earrings (.95ct diamond suspended from a .66 ct diamond) is priced at €14,500, while an eye-catching diamond and demantoid garnet dress ring in the form of a leaping fish, on a gold band, circa 1905, is on offer for €7,500.

Cartier brooch

It’s a good month if you are looking for that special piece of jewellery. O’Reilly’s auction rooms on Dublin’s Francis Street will hold a 48-hour online auction on Wednesday, October 20th, when almost 600 lots of diamonds, watches, silver and fine jewellery will go under the hammer.

They include a yellow diamond line bracelet (Lot 201), estimated at €24,000-€28,000. The diamonds, weighing 15ct, are mounted in 18ct yellow gold.

There are many beautiful bracelets, necklaces and rings for sale, but Lot 278 is one of the more unusual offerings. This whimsical 1950s Cartier novelty duck brooch with an emerald eye, diamond detail and coral feet is guiding €4,000-€5,000.

Unusual furniture

Victor Mee is also holding an online auction on Wednesday, October 20th, and Thursday, October 21st, but the lots on offer could not be more different. His Irish Vernacular, Pine Furniture and Collectibles Sale is showcasing 18th and 19th century furniture which was built by ordinary people from whatever wood and materials were available. They include settle tables and chairs and early 19th century hedge, or famine, chairs.

Lot 271 is an unusual three-legged elm famine chair from Northern Ireland, estimated at €400-€600. Lot 310 is a rare find – a mether – which was used for storing butter or curds. This late 15th century vessel came from Co Fermanagh, and is estimated at €3,000-€5,000.

The auction also includes some very interesting pieces from a pub, grocery shop and apothecary in Co Monaghan. There are many relics from the past, such as lot 773, a Murattis cigarettes mahogany dispensing cabinet (€2,500-€5,500). Highlights from the range of original advertising mirrors include lot 777, from the Dublin Whiskey Distillery (€3,000-€6,000). And lovers of chocolate and nostalgia will be drawn to lot 166, a rare 19th century Cadbury’s mahogany and glass floor display cabinet (€3,000-€4,000).

The National Antiques Art and Vintage Fair opens to the public from 11am-6pm on Friday, October, 22nd to Sunday, October 24th.