Forthcoming auction offers Blunden sisters’ family heirlooms

1956 Remington typewriter owned by Lady Pamela among old curiosities for sale

A 1956 Remington typewriter owned by Lady Pamela Blunden (€100-€150) is among the items up for  auction

A 1956 Remington typewriter owned by Lady Pamela Blunden (€100-€150) is among the items up for auction

 

Sheppard’s Auction House in Durrow will hold a sale on June 25th and June 26th next to include the residue of the contents of Castle Blunden on behalf of the Blunden sisters. Since the death of their mother, Lady Pamela, in 2017 at the of age 94, the estate has passed to their nephew though the primogenitor line to the firstborn male in the family.

The “residue” is what the sisters were left, and are a reflection of their childhood at Castle Blunden, which they describe as “the humbler, more interesting pieces that contributed to the charm and atmosphere” of their upbringing.

Included in the Sheppard’s sale of 1,200 lots, are 120 items from Castle Blunden including a wind-up gramophone, of which the sisters say: “It once played Mozart from a kitchen chair placed in the middle of the pond, while our parents skated around it on thin ice.” The skates also form part of the sale.

Ruby and Gilt Bavarian decanters, €200- €300
Ruby and Gilt Bavarian decanters, €200- €300
The barograph presented to Prof John Purser on his retirement from Trinity College Dublin, €500-€800
The barograph presented to Prof John Purser on his retirement from Trinity College Dublin, €500-€800
The Blunden sisters’ doll house, which was electrified by their grandfather, Prof John Purser, €200- €300
The Blunden sisters’ doll house, which was electrified by their grandfather, Prof John Purser, €200- €300

Also featured is their dolls’ house which was electrified by their maternal grandfather, Prof John Purser. “I remember he put tiny lights into each room with a different switch for each light,” recalls Jane Blunden of a time when electricity had just been introduced to Ireland.

Prof Purser, held the position of Chair of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at Trinity College Dublin, and during his tenure the number of students quadrupled, and the course was extended from three to four years. A Dublin barograph, presented to Prof Purser on his retirement from the Chair of Civil Engineering at Trinity in 1957 is also featured.

Some family portraits are also listed in the catalogue, including those of Lord and Lady Glengall – Viscount and Viscountess Cahir – and another, an engraving of Prof Purser who was a partner of the Guinness Brewery in the mid-19th century.

Lithograph of John Purser who was a partner in the Guinness Brewery, €200- €300
Lithograph of John Purser who was a partner in the Guinness Brewery, €200- €300
Metal trunk inscribed Lieut Commander William Blunden and bearing a Gieves of Portsmouth label, €150-€250
Metal trunk inscribed Lieut Commander William Blunden and bearing a Gieves of Portsmouth label, €150-€250
George III cross-banded mahogany Pembroke table, €800-€1,200
George III cross-banded mahogany Pembroke table, €800-€1,200
Sterling silver pocket watch by Ganter Bros Dublin, €100-€150
Sterling silver pocket watch by Ganter Bros Dublin, €100-€150

An old curiosity is the 1956 Remington typewriter, which was owned by Lady Pamela Blunden and on which Jane and Caroline – both accomplished writers – learned to type in the 1960s, along with their 18th century writing bureau.

The late Lady Pamela met her husband Sir William in Ceylon, and worked in naval intelligence in the Women’s Royal Naval Service, while he worked in the navy during the war. His naval trunk, inscribed with Lieut. Commander William Blunden and bearing a Gieves of Portsmouth label, is listed, as are Pamela’s bedside pedestal tables with tray tops which have the highest estimate in the Blunden sale at €3,000-€5,000.

Another interesting lot is a Regency telescopic dumb waiter, which has graced the diningroom of Castle Blunden for more than 200 years, and the way it operates signifies the first mechanisation of furniture (€300-€500).

Along with the many treasures from Castle Blunden, are a significant number of Regency and Georgian items of furniture and art from other collections. The top lot in the auction is The Fisher Girl, an oil on canvas by Robert Gemmell Hutchinson which is listed at €15,000-€20,000. See sheppards.ie

Elizabeth Birdthistle visits Castle Blunden to meet the sisters, last of the great adventurers. Read her article here

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