Guinness auction highlights include unique books and rare manuscripts

Pocket book of 18th-century Prince of Wales among Furness House lots for sale on Tuesday

In 1789, while the revolting French were sharpening the guillotine for plump aristocratic necks, in London an untroubled Prince of Wales was enjoying his sumptuous new home, Carlton House on Pall Mall.

The prince gave a gift of a pocket book containing designs of the palatial house to his friend Thomas Conolly, of Castletown House, Co Kildare.

More than 225 years later, the charming memento has turned up for auction among the contents of Furness House, to be sold on Tuesday.

Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers described the pocket book as "superbly bound in red straight-grained Morocco and gold, stamped with the insignia of the Prince of Wales, containing six cards", each of which is about 7.5cm x 12cm.



One bears a message from Sir

Thomas Dundas

(a councillor of state to the prince), dated May 2nd, 1789, presenting the prince’s compliments to Mr Conolly; the other five show detailed plans of the house, in watercolour and pen, by

Henry Holland

, its renowned architect.

Pedants will be intrigued, and infuriated, to note the architect refers to “Carleton” House, a reference to a previous house on the site owned by Baron Carleton.

The pocket book, Lot 617, described as “unique and of the utmost importance”, is estimated at €8,000-€12,000.

Furness House is the home of Patrick Guinness, a seventh-generation direct descendant of Arthur Guinness, and his wife Louise. The couple are downsizing and selling the contents.

Viewing takes place from noon today at the 13-bedroom mansion, near Naas, Co Kildare, and continues tomorrow, Sunday, and Monday; the auction takes place at the nearby Killashee House Hotel on Tuesday.

The library at Furness is especially interesting. Documents relating to Carton House, Maynooth, Co Kildare (former home to the dukes of Leinster, now a luxury hotel and not to be confused with the aforementioned Carlton House in London) are of historical significance.

Lot 628, the “Carton Library Manuscript Library Catalogue”, estimated at €3,000-€5,000, was drawn up circa 1815 and consists of 175 pages. It is described as “a unique record of a highly important library, which was disposed of over a series of sales, principally in the 1940s and 1960s”.

Lot 629 is the 265-page “Inventory of Carton Manuscript Catalogue: Inventory of Furniture etc of Carton House and Offices . . . 1818” and estimated at €6,000-€8,000.

Lot 651, a copy of volume one of Smollett’s The History of England, published in 1796 and signed by the original Arthur Guinness, is estimated at €500-€700.

The auction includes a huge range of items, from an 18th-century carriage to a rickshaw and from garden statuary to taxidermy, as well as, inevitably, Guinness wooden barrels.

The top painting is Figure of Erin by Daniel Maclise, estimated at €50,000-€70,000, a big drop in price since it last appeared at auction (and failed to sell), at Adam's two years ago, with a top estimate of €160,000.

Battle of Waterloo

Not all Lots are the property of Mr and Mrs Guinness. Some are being sold on behalf of other unnamed clients but are also on view at Furness, including Lot 512, an important grandfather clock, reputedly the Speaker’s Clock at the Old Irish Parliament on College Green (estimated at €70,000-€90,000); and Lot 577, a rifle used at the Battle of Waterloo (€20,000-€30,000).

If “Guinness” provenance is of critical importance to bidders, the best advice is to check with the auctioneers in advance of the sale.