Arts&Antiques: Hollywood vision of Ireland on offer in collectors’ sale

Other auction highlights include signed Harry Potter books and a diamond ring

Though mostly binned after the final credits have rolled, cinema posters have become valued items for collectors, with some achieving astronomical prices in recent years.

The highest price fetched at auction to date was for an original three-sheet German/international poster for the Fritz Lang classic Metropolis, for which actor Leonardo DiCaprio paid $690,000 in 2006.

From its salesrooms in Castlecomer – which ironically is located in the old Deen cinema – Fonsie Mealy’s collectors’ online sale on Wednesday, March 3rd features some old favourites.

Lot 648 (€100-€150), is the promotional poster for Walt Disney's 1959 production Darby O'Gill and the Little People, portraying the simple tale of an old man's battle of wits with the King of the Leprechauns, starring Janet Munro, Albert Sharpe, Jimmy O'Dea and the then little-known Sean Connery.


While filled with paddywhackery, cliches and a theme tune that is hard to get out of your head, this film helped catapult Connery into his eventual role as James Bond, where he played fictional agent 007 seven times in the adaptations of Ian Fleming's novels.

After a foray into the worlds of football and bodybuilding, Connery was cast as Michael McBride in the film, and, despite being described by the New York Times as "merely tall, dark and handsome", he caught the eye of Albert and Dana Broccoli, who were looking to cast a young unknown in Dr No.

At the time, Fleming wasn't convinced, describing Connery as "an overgrown stuntman" but was persuaded by his then girlfriend Blanche Blackwell, who remarked that Connery had the requisite sexual charisma. In a statement by James Bond producers after Connery's death last year, Barbara Broccoli said that he had "revolutionised the world with his gritty and witty portrayal of the agent" and was "largely responsible for the success of the film series".

The Quiet Man

Other Irish film posters include The Field, where Richard Harris gave one of his most outstanding screen performances as the Bull McCabe (€60-€80); David Lean's Ryan's Daughter starring Robert Mitchum, which is accompanied by nine photographs from the set (€200-€300); and a French poster for L'Homme Tranquille (The Quiet Man) with John Wayne grabbing a tempestuous-looking Maureen O'Hara by the hair (€200-€300).

Of interest to bibliophiles will be the collection of Harry Potter first-edition books by JK Rowling, the highlights of which are lot 160, a signed deluxe first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (€4,000-€5,000), and lot 161, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, signed by both Rowling and artist Cliff Wright (€3,000-€4,000).

Of German interest are two fragments of the Berlin Wall, each mounted on wooden plaques (lot 457, €80-€120) and a rare sword dating back to the 17th century (lot 463, €700-€900).

For fans of Irish artist Harry Clarke, lot 376 is an untitled study for Edgar Allan Poe's Landor's Cottage. The final artwork of this was published in Poe's book Tales of Mystery and Imagination – a copy of which is included. One of Clarke's most expansive illustrations, Landor's Cottage was exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy exhibition in 1920 (€1,200-€1,600).

Chinese Chippendale

On February 27th, Sean Eacrett will hold an online sale of 900 lots. The highlight of the sale is lot 634, an early 20th-century Chinese Chippendale-style cabinet that Eacrett estimates could fetch up to €5,000, as he thinks that it could be by Hicks of Dublin.

“It’s not signed by Hicks, but that was common at the time; but it has all the features of the middle-generation Hicks cabinets.”

Another piece that will be of interest to collectors with a penchant for horology is a lovely 19th-century watchmakers’ cabinet with ivory knobs (lot 125, €100-€200).

Art includes works by Con Campbell, a number of watercolours by Isobel George and what Eacrett describes as a "chancy" lot: an 18th/19th-century coloured, unframed engraving on paper laid on canvas, with the signature E Landseer.

"If the provenance is correct it could be worth about €1,000," Eacrett says, as it is thought to be by Sir Edwin Landseer.

Cutlery urns

February 28th marks the start of Hegarty’s sales in Bandon, Co Cork. Highlights from the online sale of furniture, jewellery and collectables include a lovely vintage yellow sapphire and diamond ring (lot 7, €5,000-€7,000). There is also a wonderful matching pair of 19th-century mahogany-inlaid cutlery urns.

Explaining their estimate of €8,000-€10,000, Nóirín Collins of the auction house says: “These would have been used in the ‘big houses’ to store and protect the family silver. Each has a locking escutcheon to the front and, apart from how unusual it is to find a matching pair, they are also beautifully designed.”

Lot 11 is a pair of 19th-century mahogany cutlery pedestals that match the urns perfectly (€4,000-€8,000).

Running this weekend, February 20th and 21st, is a general clearance online sale by Damien Matthews. With more than 1,300 lots including everything from a Rolex Submariner gentleman's watch (lot 612, €6,000-€9,000) to a box of silk scarves (lot 16, €30-€50), 95 per cent of the lots have no reserve, so there may well be bargains available.