Catching a new generation of antiques’ shoppers – on Sundays
Adam’s ‘At Home’ sale has a mix of furniture styles and art suitable for big rooms and smaller spaces
Lot 208, a set of 18 Georgian mahogany dining chairs
The Irish art and antiques market had its best year in a decade in 2017 as the economic recovery gathered pace and, if current business and consumer optimism continues, then salerooms should have another good year.
The parallel improvement in the property market is also boosting business. House clearances provide much of the stock for auction salerooms and, in turn, house buyers need furniture, decorative items and art for their new homes.
This confluence of supply and potential demand is evident in the catalogue for Adam’s Auctioneers “At Home” sale in the St Stephen’s Green saleroom next Sunday (February 25th). Many of the items have been consigned from a recently-sold townhouse in Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin 2. According to Adam’s, the property had been used as upmarket office space with a two-storey apartment above, its furniture supplied over the years by “ some of Dublin’s best-regarded antiques dealers”.
The top lots from the house include furniture suitable for a very large dining room: Lot 208, a set of 18 Georgian mahogany dining chairs “in the Gothic taste” with the auction’s highest estimate of €7,000-€10,000; and Lot 207, an earlier (William IV) mahogany extending dining table – which is more than 13ft long and over 4ft wide (€6,000-€8,000).
Also suitable for a very large room is Lot 261, a Georgian breakfront bookcase – almost 13ft wide and almost 9ft high – with open shelving above a base fitted with four cupboards on a platform base (€6,000-€10,000). Lot 302 is a Georgian mahogany and satinwood inlaid “rent table” (€4,000-€6,000) of a type used by landlords when tenants came to pay the rent; the drawers beneath the top are initialled and the centre of the table has a small lidded well, into which the clerk could put the rent money which would be held safely in the base of the table.
Lot 206 is a dramatic-looking large Victorian console table with a marble top on a central support in the form of an eagle with outstretched wings in giltwood (wood painted gold) raised on a stepped platform base (€5,000-€8,000). This table would match Lot 170, an Irish Regency giltwood convex mirror also surmounted by an eagle with outspread wings and described by Adam’s as “stunning” (€4,000-€6,000).
A very different look is on offer with Lot 157, a French Empire-style giltwood overmantel mirror with a frieze painted with signs of the Zodiac (€2,000-€4,000). Fans of art deco will be drawn to Lot 470, an art deco walnut-cased radiogram, “Ether Conqueror K129 model”, with a rectangular twin top, lifting to reveal a record deck and control gauge, (€700-€1,000).
Among the art, highlights include a painting of dogs, Lot 211, entitled At the End of the Day by the appropriately named Wright Barker, an English artist best-known for his paintings of animals and hunting who died in 1941. (€3,000-€5,000).
The auction also features silver, glass, porcelain, china and oriental items including Lot 187, a Chinese “Sancai” glazed horse and rider group described as “in the Tang Dynasty style, decorated in yellow, cream and blue tones and standing on a plinth base” approximately 15 inches high (€500-€800). The provenance for this piece, incidentally, is the collection of the late Anne Bullitt (of Palmerstown House, Co Kildare, whose estate – minus the missing pistols – continues to be dispersed in dribs and drabs).
The silver section is extensive with various lots of cutlery, including Lot 61, a 100-piece “Old English” pattern mahogany inlaid canteen (€1,500-€2,500). Lot 57, a Georgian silver fruit basket, dating from 1742 and described as “an immensely elegant object”, was made in London by master silversmith John Luff almost three centuries ago, is estimated at €6,000-€8,000.
Irish provincial silver is regarded as very collectible because of its scarcity and there’s a good example from Cork in Lot 68, a two-handled cup and cover made by silversmith Carden Terry circa 1775 (€2,500-€3,500). Lot 109, designed to brilliantly illuminate a dining table or sideboard for a very formal occasion, is a pair of Victorian silver-plated candelabra, each with 10 candle sconces on scrolling branches (€2,000-€3,000).
These Sunday sales are proving hugely popular with an increasing number of younger buyers
Sunday auctions are not traditional but were launched by Adam’s to target new, and crucially younger, clients who, even if interested, simply don’t have the time to go to viewings or auctions during the week.
James O’Halloran, the managing director of Adam’s, said “these Sunday sales are proving hugely popular with an increasing number of younger buyers who enjoy the spectacle and the opportunity to purchase unique furnishings and artworks for their homes. The present trend of mixing styles and eras suits the auction-goer well, as these sales are an eclectic mix of furniture and decorative effects of all ages, from diverse parts of the world and at all points in the price range.”
So what about more affordable items? The auction has over 520 lots and the online catalogue has a facility to allow prospective bidders to view lots with estimates from low to high as well as the other way round.
Bargains are in the eye of the beholder but among the modestly-priced lots that might appeal to people looking for unusual decorative items are Lot 142, a Victorian copper bedpan warmer with a turned stain wood handle (€40-€60); Lot 342, a 19th-century Venetian engraved glass flask (€50-€100); Lot 118, a set of 12 Victorian silver-plated fruit knives and 12 forks with mother-of-pearl handles (€50-€80); Lot 320, a Georgian rosewood and mother-of-pearl inlaid tea caddy (€80-€120); Lot 508, a set of three cut-glass decanters (with stoppers) described as “probably Irish, circa 1840” (€60-€100); and, Lot 517, an Edwardian inlaid mahogany candle box in the 18th-century style (€80-€120).