Daniel O’Connell portrait and cracked jug add spice to Mealy’s eclectic sale
Rare German 1920s ‘Bonzo Bank’money box also among highlights
A large oil painting of Daniel O’Connell, measuring 5ft 4in by 3ft 5in, is attributed to the artist Nicholas Joseph Crowley and estimated at €2,000-€3,000.
As the commemorations for Ireland’s Independence continues, the focus of public attention has, understandably, been the major personalities of the 1912-1922 period. Towering figures of 19th-century Irish life have been somewhat forgotten. Now, a major collection of Daniel O’Connell memorabilia has come on the market and will go under the hammer at Mealy’s two-day auction, for which viewing begins tomorrow.
Daniel O’Connell – known as ‘The Liberator’ – was born in Co Kerry in 1775 and died in Italy in 1847. Dublin’s principal thoroughfare (formerly Sackville Street) was renamed in his honour and is dominated by a sculpture of him by John Henry Foley. O’Connell was the leading Irish politician of the first half of the 19th century; the ‘voice of Ireland’ in the House of Commons in Westminster; and, is chiefly remembered for securing Catholic Emancipation.
Mealy’s said an unnamed private Irish collector has consigned various items to the auction including, most strikingly, Lot 507, a large oil painting of Daniel O’Connell depicted seated in an interior, wearing a dark, double-breasted jacket and white bow tie.
The painting, measuring 5ft 4in by 3ft 5in, is attributed to the artist Nicholas Joseph Crowley and estimated at €2,000-€3,000.
Lot 504 is a large silver salver, weighing about 2,100g, in a fitted oak case, that belonged to Daniel O’Connell and is engraved with his crest (€5,000-€7,000). Lot 502 is an early 19th-century English porcelain jug, probably Davenport, of unusually large size (13 inches high and 15 inches wide), profusely decorated with colourful flowers, stored in a glazed wooden display case.
The estimate is €2,000-€3,000 despite the jug being cracked – caused by boiling water being poured into it. But it comes with an all-important letter of provenance which states the jug was presented to Daniel O’Connell while he was in prison and he later gifted it to a friend.
In all, the auction has more than 960 lots and Daniel O’Connell aside, there’s an interesting and very eclectic mix of items. One of the top lots will be walked on by anyone attending the viewing but that’s what it’s for. Lot 441 is a very large Donegal carpet, with floral pattern, in a design attributed to Gavin Morton and GK Robinson, estimated at €7,000-€11,000].
Among the art, Lot 414 is a pair of late 19th-century Italian oil paintings, in attractive gilt frames, by Guiseppe Mazzolini – one called Peaceful Slumber depicting a woman looking over her infant in a cradle, the other, Maternal Cares, depicting a woman holding an infant on a window sill (€2,500 – €3,500).
Anyone wishing to create a nostalgic Downton Abbey-style look for the Christmas dining table this year could hardly find anything more impressive than Lot 640, an Edwardian silver épergne (an ornamental centrepiece for a dining table, typically used for holding fruit or flowers) made by silversmiths James Dixon & Sons in Sheffield in 1906, in the rococo style.
The auctioneer said it needed a good clean (which will require considerable elbow grease) but will look “stunning”. Made with 6,912g of silver, the piece is 21in (54cm) high, 24in (61cm) wide, 16in (41cm) deep and is estimated at €6,000-€10,000.
A more affordable way to create a country house look is to make Victorian style-puddings and jellies using Lot 904, a collection of eight 19th-century pewter food and jelly moulds with an impeccable provenance – Lissadell House (€80-€120).
Need a Christmas gift for a banker? Check out the wonderful Lot 807, a rare ‘‘Bonzo Bank’’ mechanical money box by Saalheimer & Strauss, an important toy maker in 1920s’ Germany. The tin money box, just 7in high, is stamped with the company’s logo – the rather unfortunate, interlocking letters ‘‘SS’’. The moneybox features the face of ‘Bonzo’ the dog – when a lever is pressed the dog’s tongue appears; the coin placed on it and it can then be swallowed into the bank. These toys are very collectible and the estimate is €1,500-€2,000.
A gift for stressed new parents (with a good sense of humour) is Lot 333, an antique child’s toilet training armchair made of elm and ash (€70-€90).
Also suitable for a nursery is Lot 939, a set of 60 coloured prints, The Enid Blyton Nature Plates, by Eileen Soper, the renowned 20th-century English illustrator of children’s and wildlife books who often collaborated with Enid Blyton – author of various children’s classic series including Noddy, The Famous Five and The Secret Seven.
The prints, featuring achingly nostalgic images, are contained in a folder and most are in superb condition, but they really ought to be framed and displayed. An absolute bargain at just €200-€300 for the lot.
- Mealy’s, Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny: The Winter Sale, Tuesday and Wednesday, November 7th and 8th, at 11am daily. Online catalogue and bidding details at mealys.ie. Viewing in the saleroom tomorrow, Sunday (November 5th) from noon to 5pm and Monday (November 6th) 10am-5pm.